St. Paul (May 9,
2014) A bill passed last night by the
Minnesota State Senate will generate more lawsuits against small employers, the
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) warned today.
“We understand the
Legislature wanted to pass a bill to help working women and we have no problem
with that, but we are deeply disappointed that many majority party Senators
agreed to three new lawsuit provisions in the conference committee that were
never in the Senate bill,” said NFIB Minnesota State Director Mike Hickey.
“The Senate totally conceded to the House on these three controversial
provisions. They did a good job of not expanding litigation in their bill and
we wish they would have held firm in conference committee on these issues
involving new litigation.”
One of those provisions
would add familial status as a protected class under the state Human Rights
“Last night the Senate
chose to dramatically expand the Human Rights act to workers with children
under age 18 which is a big departure from the current law” said Hickey. “This
is a dramatic and unworkable expansion of our Human Rights Act and will likely
cause many new lawsuits to be filed against employers of all types, private,
public or nonprofit.”
Hickey explained that the Human Rights Act was
originally intended to cover traditional protected classes, such as racial,
ethnic or religious minorities and more recently sexual orientation and
disability have been added.
“The vast majority of these protected classes involve
an inherent or permanent characteristic of the person but now we are expanding
it to situations involving the person or the plaintiff and we fear this is not
Discrimination cases under the Human Rights Act can be
costly and threatening for small businesses” said Hickey.
“The cost of simply responding to a complaint can
range $5000 to $25,000. A case heard before an administrative law judge
can cost from $50,000 to $100,000, and a full trial in district court can cost
double to triple that amount,” he said.
The other two provisions, which relate to disputes
arising from the wage disclosure and nursing mother laws, would be handled
under state labor law and not the Human Rights Act, said Hickey. Those,
he said, while concerning, could hopefully be resolved in a less adversarial
and costly manner.
For more information
about NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com.