The Minnesota Human Rights Act was passed into law in 1973, seventeen years before the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is one of the most progressive civil-rights legislation in the country. However, when the ADA was passed in 1990, it included language that established and protected the interactive process between an employer and a person with a disability. The MN HRA does not include language that protects the interactive process; therefore, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights cannot enforce the interactive process. The amendment would add the Interactive Process language from the ADA to the MN HRA to sync the laws.
The ADA is a federal law that supersedes state law, so the interactive process is covered at the federal level. This means that if a person with a disability experiences a violation of the ADA at their place of employment regarding an accommodation request, they can go to federal agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Department of Justice. Still, state agencies, particularly the Department of Human Rights, cannot enforce the ADA. This means there are limited avenues for a Minnesotan with a disability to file a complaint and enforce their right to be included in the interactive process for accommodation. By amending the MN HRA to align with the ADA on the interactive process, this opens up options for an employee with a disability to ensure the law is enforced.
Minnesota Department of Human Rights
Because the ADA is federal law and includes the interactive process, the opposition may say it is redundant. This would also give more authority to the Department of Human Rights to make sure employers are complying with the law. MN Dept. of Human Rights can be seen by some legislatures as not being politically neutral and would oppose giving them more authority over Minnesota businesses.
Goal of Policy
The goal of the policy is to open up more state-level channels for Minnesotans with Disabilities who may have faced discrimination or did not receive adequate accommodation during the interactive process with their employer.