A Guide to Montana's Human Rights Laws
Montana's Discrimintation Laws
Montana's discrimination laws can be found in the Montana Human Rights Act (Title 49) and in the Montana Governmental Code of Fair Practices.
These laws make it unlawful to discriminate in:
- State and Local Governmental Services and Employment
- Insurance (sex and marital status only)
- Public Accommodations
- Familial Status (housing only)
- Marital Status
- National Origin
- Physical or Mental Disability
- Political Beliefs or Ideas (governmental services and employment only)
- Sex (including pregnancy, maternity and sexual harassment)
These laws also make it unlawful to retaliate against a person for opposing unlawful discriminatory practices or for participating in a human rights proceeding.
Enforcing Montana's Discrimination Laws
A. Phase One - The Human Rights Bureau
- Provides technical assistance concerning discrimination law;
- Accepts discrimination complaints;
- Attempts resolution of each case;
- Conducts impartial investigations and issues determinations on merits of the case;
- Attempts conciliation of complaints when preponderance of the evidence supports that discrimination has occurred.
B. Phase Two - The Hearing Bureau
- Conducts a formal or informal public hearing when conciliation is not possible;
- Issues a decision on the case;
- Orders any reasonable measure to correct discriminatory practices and correct harm to persons discriminated against.
C. Phase Three - The Human Rights Commission
- Hears appeals from decisions of the hearings examiner;
- Hears objections to decisions of the HRB to dismiss a complaint.
Time Limits For Filing Discrimination Complaints
Generally, complaints must be filed within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination under Montana law.
If a complaint has followed a written grievance procedure established by a collective bargaining agreement, contract, or written rule or policy to resolve the dispute, the complaint must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discrimination.
Issues That Are Not Within The Authority of the Bureau
The Bureau does not handle:
- Hiring and firing decisions which do not relate to discrimination based upon the factors listed above, such as termination without good cause under the Montana Wrongful Discharge Act;
- Access to and confidentiality of personnel files;
- Smokers rights; Indoor Clean Air Act (except when a physically handicapped non-smoker alleges handicap discrimination based upon the smoking of others);
- Matters related to arrest, criminal convictions, or sentencing;
- Matters related to divorce proceedings, child custody and child support;
- Matters related to decrees issued by courts;
- Veterans preference;
- General unfair treatment not based upon one of the protected classes listed above;
- Unlawful discrimination alleged to have been committed by the federal government or by tribal governments.