By changing a single sentence in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), the Minnesota Senate on May 1, 2014 passed a bill which, if it becomes law, will significantly change the way MHRA disputes are decided in the courtroom. Currently, the law (Minn. Stat. § 362A.33, subd. 6) provides that, “Any action brought pursuant to this chapter shall be heard and determined by a judge sitting without a jury.” However, the Senate’s version (SF 2322), which passed on a 55-0 vote, would change that sentence to read, “A person bringing a civil action seeking redress for an unfair discriminatory practice or a respondent is entitled to a jury trial.” The change would be significant, for it would drastically change the way MDHR cases — such as claims for employment discrimination — would be litigated. Generally speaking, jury trials are far more expensive and complicated than are cases tried to a judge alone. A jury of six people can also be far more difficult to predict than a single judge. The change would, however, make state law consistent with its federal counterpart (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964), which already allows for jury trials. For more information about this article, please contact me at alexandriamnlaw.com or [email protected].
MN Senate adds jury trial right to Human Rights Act
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