Department of Civil Rights

Velma J. Korbel, Director

350 S. 5th St., Room 239
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone: (612) 673-3012
Fax: (612) 673-2599
TTY: (612) 673-2157

Office Hours:
8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Monday – Friday

Frequently Asked Questions 

Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity

What forms of discrimination does the Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance (MCRO) prohibit?

  • The MCRO prohibits discrimination based on:
    • Race
    • Color
    • Creed
    • Religion
    • Ancestry
    • National origin
    • Sex, including sexual harassment
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender identity
    • Disability Age
    • Marital status
    • Status regarding public assistance
    • Familial status

For more information, please see Title VII - Minneapolis Civil Rights Ordinance.

What is an Affirmative Action Plan (AAP)?

  • An Affirmative Action Plan (AAP) is a combination of policies and procedures a company utilizes to prohibit discrimination and promote employment opportunities for women, minorities and disabled individuals.

How long does it take for the city to approve my Affirmative Action Plan?

  • The city has thirty (30) days to approve an Affirmative Action plan, beginning from the date the AAP was received by the MDCR.

Does the city require my business to fill out the City of Minneapolis Affirmative Action Plan available on its website?

  • No. The MDCR accepts AAPs approved by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association (MMCA), the National Electrical Contractors Association and the City of St. Paul, provided the MDCR receives a copy of the plan and corresponding certificate of approval.

How do I know my Affirmative Action Plan has been approved?

  • The MDCR will send out an Approval Letter notifying you of: (1) the date of the approval; (2) the date the AAP expires; and (3) the corresponding MDCR contact person in the department to whom you may direct questions.

How long is an Affirmative Action Plan valid?

  • City of Minneapolis AAPs are valid from three (3) years from the date of approval.

How do I know which Affirmative Action Plan to fill out?

  • The MDCR offers three (3) Affirmative Action Plans depending on the size and location of your company. Use the Affirmative Action Plan for a company with 21 or more full time permanent employees. Fill out the Modified Affirmative Action Plan if your business employs 20 or fewer full time permanent employees. Finally, if your company is located outside the seven (7) county metro area please utilize the Non Metro Area Affirmative Action Plan. The counties included in the metro area are: Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington.

How may I know the status of my Affirmative Action Plan approval?

What if my company already has a valid Affirmative Action Plan with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights?

  • The City accepts valid Affirmative Action Plans approved by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR), the Minnesota Mechanical Contractors Association (MMCA), the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) and the City of St. Paul, provided the MDCR receives a copy of the plan and corresponding certificate of approval.

HUD Section 3

What is Section 3?

  • Section 3 is a provision of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Act of 1968 that helps foster local economic development, neighborhood economic improvement and individual self-sufficiency The Section 3 program requires that recipients of certain HUD financial assistance, to the greatest extent feasible, provide job training, employment, and contracting opportunities for low- or very low-income residents in connection with projects and activities in their neighborhoods. For more information, please visit Section 3 - Economic Opportunities.

Who are Section 3 residents?

  • Section 3 residents are: public housing residents; or persons who live in the area where a HUD-assisted project is located and who have a household income that falls below HUD's income limits.

What is considered "low income"?

  • Low income is defined as 80% or below the median income of the Minneapolis area. Very low income is defined as 50% or below the median income of the Minneapolis area.

What is a Section 3 business concern?

  • A business that: (1) is 51% or more owned by Section 3 residents; (2) employs Section 3 residents for at least 30% of its full-time, permanent staff; or (3) provides evidence of a commitment to subcontract to Section 3 business concerns, 25% or more of the dollar amount of the awarded contract.

What are the Minneapolis Section 3 goals?

  • The CCD has set goals as the following: (1) 10% of each city contract should be Section 3 businesses; and (2) 30% of new hires on each project should be Section 3 Minneapolis residents.

How can I qualify as a Section 3 business?

Where can I find certified HUD Section 3 businesses?

Small Underutilized Business Program & Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

What is the Small Underutilized Business Program?

  • The Small Underutilized Business Program (SUBP) was established to remedy the effects of discrimination on women-owned business enterprises (WBEs) and minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs). The City of Minneapolis commissioned a study conducted by National Economic Research Associates in 2010 which evidenced the wide disparities and challenges W/MBEs experience in the contracting and business sectors. The SUBP was established to ensure no business is excluded from or denied participation on a City of Minneapolis contract based on race or sex

How does the city calculate whether a business is underutilized or disadvantaged?

  • In 2010 the City of Minneapolis commissioned National Economic Research Associates to conduct a disparity study. A disparity study analyzes the current economic, socioeconomic and business climates in a region to identify whether public affirmative action programs are necessary to remedy gender, racial and socioeconomic challenges in the community. For more information, please read the NERA Disparity Study and Program Recommendations.

How do I become certified as a women- and minority-owned business?

Where can I find certified women- and minority-owned businesses?

  • The Minnesota Unified Certification Program (MNUCP) website offers an extensive list of both WBEs and MBEs that may be tailored depending on your contracting needs. Please visit https://mnucp.org/. Please note that only firms that have their principal place of business located within the City's Marketplace will count towards meeting SUBP goals. The City's Marketplace consists of the geographical area of the Minnesota counties of Anoka, Carver, Chisago, Dakota, Hennepin, Isanti, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Washington, and Wright.

How do I know if I qualify as a small underutilized business?

  • The Minnesota Unified Certification Program identifies four (4) eligibility requirements:
    • The firm must be at least 51% owned by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s) who also controls the firm. The personal net worth of the individual(s) must not exceed $1.32 million.
    • The firm is a small business that meets the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) size standard
    • The firm’s annual gross receipts do not exceed $22.41 million. (Please note: size limits for airport concessions DBEs are higher.)
    • The firm is organized as a for-profit business.

For more information please visit MNUCP or the federal Small Business Administration

Do St. Paul certified businesses still count toward my contracting goals?

  • No. The City of Minneapolis only accepts MNUCP certified businesses. The only exemption is the Neighborhood Stabilization Program which will accept St. Paul certified W/MBEs.

How do I let more contractors know that my business is a certified W/MBE?

  • The MDCR directs developers, general contractors and subcontractors to utilize the MNUCP database. The CCD also frequently engages in networking opportunities for W/MBEs and underutilized businesses. For more information, contact the Contract Compliance Division at contractcompliance@minneapolismn.gov.

How do I utilize WBEs, MBEs and/or Section 3 businesses in my contracts?

  • The MDCR Contract Compliance Unit will arrange a meeting with your business to explain the pre-award review process, explain compliance policies and provide a Pre-Construction Booklet to be filled out by your business. When filling out the Pre-Construction Booklet, contractors are encouraged to contact MBEs, WBEs and Section 3 businesses to solicit bids for city projects. The CCD ensures small business participation by following-up with the businesses you include in your Pre-Construction Booklet to ensure your good faith efforts to utilize small underutilized businesses.

How does the MDCR ensure SUBP participation in city contracts?

  • The CCD conducts pre-award and post-award reviews to ensure small business participation. Prior to contract approval, the corresponding Contract Compliance Officer will contact the SUBPs listed on your Pre-Construction Booklet to ensure you made every necessary and reasonable effort to reach out to W/MBEs and Section 3 businesses. Once a contract is awarded, the CCD sends out SUBP Verification Forms that confirm contract participation and dollar amounts for each W/MBEs and Section 3 business.

Pre-Award Review

Where may I obtain more information on bidding?

How long does it take for the city to conduct a pre-award review?

  • The MCRO states the CCD has thirty (30) days after receiving notice of the proposed contract to complete the pre-award compliance review. Therefore it is important for developers and contractors to inform the CCD of impending projects. Once a Pre-Construction Booklet has been submitted, the CCD works as expeditiously as possible so construction projects may begin on time for their estimated start dates.

What is a pre-construction booklet?

  • The Pre-Construction Booklet is a document contractors fill out to identify subcontractors working on the project, employment goals and SUBP contracting goals. The Neighborhood Stabilization Project (both NSP2 and NSP3) may be found here. For other projects please use this Pre-Construction Booklet. Depending upon the size and funding mechanisms in your project, you may be required to use an alternative form. If you have questions, please contact the MDCR Contract Compliance unit at contractcompliance@minneapolismn.gov.

What happens after the MDCR approves my pre-construction booklet?

  • The Contract Compliance Officer will send a notification via e-mail that your project was approved and the CCO notifies the corresponding city department, e.g. Community Planning and Economic Development.

How do I utilize WBEs, MBEs and/or Section 3 businesses in my contracts?

  • The MDCR Contract Compliance Unit will arrange a meeting with your business to explain the pre-award review process, compliance policies and provide a Pre-Construction Booklet to be filled out by your business. When filling out the Pre-Construction Booklet, contractors are encouraged to contact MBEs, WBEs and Section 3 businesses to solicit bids for city projects. The CCD ensures small business participation by following-up with the businesses you include in your Pre-Construction Booklet to ensure your good faith efforts to utilize small underutilized businesses.

Can the MDCR reject my contract or bid proposal?

  • Yes. The MDCR may not approve any bid proposal reviewed in the pre-award approval process that fails to include W/MBEs or Section 3 businesses or any bid deemed non-compliant, or unresponsive. Contractors who fail to meet city contracting goals must prove they made good faith efforts to contract with SUBP and Section 3 businesses. For more information on good faith efforts (GFE), please see below.

What are good faith efforts (GFE)?

  • The city defines good faith efforts (GFE) as “every necessary and reasonable effort to subcontract work to W/MBEs in advance of the contract bid submittal dates or requests for proposals.

What is a good faith efforts review?

  • If the CCD determines a contractor has failed to make good faith efforts to meet city goals, it will conduct a good faith efforts (GFE) review. Factors that constitute GFE include: (1) soliciting W/MBE interest in the scope of the contract through reasonable and available means prior to bid opening; (2) contracting out portions of the work to W/MBEs, such as breaking out contract work into smaller pieces; (3) providing interested W/MBEs with adequate information in a timely manner; (4) good faith negotiations with interested W/MBEs analyzed by looking at price, scheduling, capabilities and the contract goal; (5) additional costs in using W/MBEs is not sufficient to for a bidder’s failure to meet project goals; (6) bidders must make reasonable efforts to assist W/MBEs to find funding; and (7) using community organizations to provide assistance to W/MBEs.

Does Civil Rights have to review my contract if it is less than $100,000?

  • City Ordinance tasks the CCD to review contracts “resulting in a cumulative contract award in excess of one hundred thousand dollars.” Mpls. Ord. 139.50(d). In a calendar year if a company has contracts exceeding $100,000, each contract must undergo civil rights compliance review because even though an individual general contractor may have a contract under $100,000 for a single project, the aggregate total money dispersed was above the $100,000 cumulative amount. For more questions regarding the compliance review threshold, please e-mail contractcompliance@minneapolismn.gov.

Last updated Dec 15, 2017

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