Unlike federal law, the Minnesota Human Rights Act includes sexual orientation as a protected category.261 Sexual orientation discrimination (sometimes known as “affectional preference” discrimination) is also prohibited under Minneapolis and St. Paul city ordinances.262

The Human Rights Act defines sexual orientation as “having or being perceived as having an emotional, physical or sexual attachment to another person without regard to the sex of that person or having or being perceived as having an orientation for such attachment, or having or being perceived as having a self-image or identity not traditionally associated with one’s biological maleness or femaleness.” This definition does not require employers to provide restrooms to transgender persons based upon their self image; employers may restrict such facilities according to biological gender.263 “Sexual orientation” does not include a physical or sexual attachment to children by an adult.264

Unlike some of the other protected categories, several exceptions apply to sexual orientation as a protected category. For example, religious associations are not prohibited from taking any actions on matters related to sexual orientation and employment.265 In addition, non-public service organizations that primarily serve minors do not commit unfair discriminatory employment practices if they have qualifications for employees or volunteers based on sexual orientation.266 Finally, nothing in this category is to be construed to authorize or permit the use of numerical goals or quotas, or other types of affirmative action programs, with respect to homosexuality or bisexuality in the administration or enforcement of this category.

261. Minn. Stat § 363A.08, subd. 1 (2007).
262. Minneapolis, Minn. Ordinance Ch. 139.40 (2007); St. Paul, Minn. Leg. Code Ch. 183.01, 183.02(26) (2007).
263. Goins v. West Group, 635 N.W.2d 717 (Minn. 2001).
264. Minn. Stat. § 363A.03, subd. 44 (2007).
265. Minn. Stat. § 363A.26 (2007).
266. Minn. Stat. § 363A.20, subd. 3 (2007).
267. Minn. Stat. § 363A.08, subd. 2 (2007).