Minnesota DHS sued over ‘discriminatory’ behavior toward anti-CRT employee

Norgren, a Christian who's 50% Native American, opposed a training titled "How to Be Anti-Racist."

Upper Midwest Law Center President Doug Seaton speaks at a press conference in September at the Minnesota Capitol. (Center of the American Experiment/YouTube)

A civil liberties legal group is suing the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) over ostensibly “discriminatory” behavior toward an employee who objected to mandatory trainings saturated with critical race theory (CRT) and “gender identity” politics.

Last Friday the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota DHS and Commissioner Jodi Harpstead on behalf of former employee Joseph Norgren, who worked as a security counselor at the Minnesota Security Hospital.

The lawsuit alleges Norgren’s supervisors denied his request for a religious exemption to two mandatory trainings, which led to his “constructive discharge” on Jan. 6, 2021. The DHS disputes the “constructive discharge,” saying the 27-year veteran planned to retire after his 30th year of employment, but Norgren argues the discriminatory treatment and threat of termination made his employment untenable and that he had “no choice but to retire.”

Norgren, a Christian who’s 50% Native American, opposed a training titled “How to Be Anti-Racist” for multiple reasons, but he “specifically voiced his objection” to a supervisor over another training titled “Understanding Gender Identity and Expression: Moving Beyond the Binary.”

“Norgren 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,” the complaint says. “Norgren never treated any DHS employee or patient differently at the Security Hospital because of his personal, sincerely held religious beliefs.”

But when Norgren sought a religious exemption, a supervisor passed him off to other DHS employees, who subsequently gave him the runaround treatment as well. He later learned from the DHS’ director of equal opportunity and access that his religious exemption was denied.

The complaint also alleges Norgren noticed a “difference” in how he and his son, who also worked at the Security Hospital, were treated and that he “avoided his supervisors for fear of termination.”

“The Minnesota Department of Human Services discriminated against Mr. Norgren using racist CRT and anti-Christian ideology,” said UMLC President Doug Seaton. “CRT and identity politics are creating racial division and destroying civil rights in our schools and places of employment. It must stop. Government employers simply can’t discriminate against employees to chase so-called equity.”


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.