The St. Paul school district recently announced that it has settled a federal racial discrimination lawsuit.
The suit was brought by the families of three former students at Heights Community School against the school district, school principal and a sixth grade teacher. The complaint alleges that the teacher disparaged black children and subjected them to discriminatory treatment, including allegedly requiring them to sit facing the wall in the back of the classroom.
Full details of the settlement have not been disclosed due to a confidentiality order by the court. However, the school district claims it responded to the families’ concerns promptly. In addition, the sixth grade teacher resigned after the suit was filed.
Although this story involved students, it serves as an important reminder that federal and state laws prevent discriminatory treatment based on race in Minnesota’s workplaces and schools. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer from making employment decisions based on the protected categories of race, color, gender, national origin, pregnancy, and religious beliefs. In addition, Minnesota’s Human Rights Act offers additional workplace protections.
During all phases of employment, the policies and practices used by Minnesota’s employers should be equal between workers of different racial backgrounds. By following applicable employment laws, Minnesota employers will benefit from having a diverse workforce and the accompanying breadth of talent that is present when ability, rather than racial stereotypes, is the guiding principle.
For workers who are subjected to unlawful and discriminatory treatment, an experienced employment attorney will know how to bring a claim under applicable federal and state laws. In many instances, such a claim begins by filing an administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Source: MPR News, “St. Paul schools settle discrimination lawsuit,” Jan. 29, 2013.