Minnesota DHS: Misuse of pronouns may warrant discipline

DHS was sued over "discriminatory" behavior toward an employee who objected to mandatory trainings on critical race theory (CRT) and "gender identity" politics earlier this month.

The Andersen Building in St. Paul, Minnesota, which houses the Department of Human Services. (Minnesota Department of Administration/Flickr)

The Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) is warning employees against intentional misuse of pronouns and saying it could constitute discrimination or harassment.

A source told Alpha News that DHS employees were presented a “Policies and Discipline” document last year concerning pronouns. A screenshot of the document was shared with Alpha News.

In part, it states the intentional misuse of pronouns could “constitute discrimination or harassment based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression in violation of DHS Prohibition of Discrimination and Prohibition of Sexual Harassment policies. Inappropriate pronoun use could also violate DHS’ Respectful Workplace policy.”

DHS then lists examples of inappropriate ways to use pronouns, such as mockingly writing “human” or “grammatically correct” in the signature line of an email.

“Your perception of grammatical rules [is] not an excuse to be disrespectful to someone’s identity,” the document says.

Other examples listed include:

  • Responding to people sharing pronouns by saying “I don’t care” or making a joke like “you can call me anything as long as you don’t call me late for dinner.”
  • Intentionally calling a person by the wrong name or pronoun.

DHS told Alpha News it strives to create a workplace where all employees feel they belong.

DHS employees were presented with this document on the appropriate use of pronouns.

“Like many employers, we provide staff the option of using pronouns that best reflect them in their DHS email signature block,” said a spokesperson for DHS. “We have developed background information for staff about the use of pronouns and instructions for how to include preferred pronouns in their email signature block if they choose to do so.”

Alpha News asked DHS about the consequences that employees of certain religious beliefs could face if they object to using preferred pronouns.

“Intentional misuse of pronouns, whether in an email or otherwise, may constitute a violation of DHS’ Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation policy; Sexual Harassment Prohibited policy, and/or Respectful Workplace policy,” DHS responded.

Earlier this month, DHS was sued over “discriminatory” behavior toward an employee who objected to mandatory trainings on critical race theory (CRT) and “gender identity” politics. The lawsuit alleges supervisors denied the employee’s request for a religious exemption to the trainings.

The complaint says the employee “believes that God created only two sexes and two genders, male and female. Thus, the concepts of nonbinary gender and the belief that one can choose their gender or sex is contrary to his sincerely held religious belief.”


Pafoua Yang

Pafoua Yang is a reporter for Alpha News. She has worked as an on-air reporter for stations across the Twin Cities.