of Appeals Office of Appellate Courts
R. Williams, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for appellant.
L. Segal, Minneapolis City Attorney, Sarah McLaren, Sharda
Enslin, Assistant City Attorneys, Minneapolis, Minnesota, for
L. Lienemann, Culbreth & Lienemann, LLP, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for amicus curiae Employee Lawyers Association of
the Upper Midwest.
T. Rochel, Phillip M. Kitzer, Teske, Katz, Kitzer &
Rochel, PLLP, Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Frances E. Baillon,
Baillon Thome Jozwiak & Wanta, LLP, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, for amicus curiae Minnesota Chapter of the
National Employment Lawyers Association.
exclusivity provision of the Minnesota Workers'
Compensation Act, Minnesota Statutes section 176.031 (2018),
does not bar claims for disability discrimination brought
under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minnesota Statutes
sections 363A.01-.44 (2018).
interlocutory appeal, we consider whether an employee-who was
injured while working and received workers' compensation
benefits-may bring claims for disability discrimination
against his employer under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
Appellant Keith Daniel, a firefighter for the Minneapolis
Fire Department ("Department"), sued respondent
City of Minneapolis ("City"), alleging that, while
he was working for the Department, the City discriminated
against him by failing to accommodate his disability and
retaliating against him for seeking an accommodation.
City moved for summary judgment, arguing that Daniel's
claims are barred by the exclusivity provision in the
Minnesota Workers' Compensation Act. The district court
denied summary judgment, the court of appeals reversed, and
we granted Daniel's petition for review.
effect to the plain language of the workers' compensation
act and the human rights act, we hold that an employee can
pursue claims under each act because each act provides a
distinct cause of action that redresses a discrete type of
injury to an employee. The human rights act holds employers
liable for discrimination, a public harm that violates a
person's civil rights and self-worth; the act affords
broad relief, including equitable, compensatory, punitive,
and public remedies for unlawful workplace discrimination. By
contrast, the workers' compensation act holds employers
liable for work-related, personal injuries; it requires
employers to pay monetary compensation to employees to help
injured employees recover physically and financially.
Therefore, for the reasons explained below, we overrule our
decision in Karst v. F.C. Hayer Co., 447 N.W.2d 180
(Minn. 1989), reverse the decision of the court of appeals,
and remand the case to the district court for further
this case appears before us on the City's motion for
summary judgment, we view the evidence in the light most
favorable to Daniel, and resolve all doubts and factual
inferences against the City. See Rochester City Lines,
Co. v. City of Rochester, 868 N.W.2d 655, 661 (Minn.
2015). Daniel worked as a firefighter for the Minneapolis
Fire Department for 14 years. While employed, Daniel suffered
numerous work-related injuries, including many injuries to
his right ankle and to his shoulders. His complaint focuses
on the Department's response to his request for a
performing rescue duties in August 2014, Daniel injured his
right ankle. After this injury, Daniel's doctor gave him
a prescription for supportive "tennis shoes with arch
support high rescue boot high ankle" to reduce pain
and improve ankle stability.
filed a claim petition for workers' compensation benefits
to pay for the cost of the shoes and inserts prescribed by
his doctor, as well as for lost wages. As part of the claim
process, a doctor conducted an independent medical
examination for the City. The doctor concluded that
Daniel's ankle issues were "aggravated by his . . .
need to walk on uneven surfaces wearing heeled shoes at
work." He recommended that Daniel wear flat shoes but
opined that Daniel could work full time without restrictions.
The City accepted liability for Daniel's workers'
compensation claim in January 2015.
captain told Daniel that he could wear black tennis shoes in
the station house, Daniel purchased black tennis shoes and
fitted them with special inserts. The City compensated Daniel
for the black tennis shoes, orthotic inserts, supportive
rescue boots, and lost wages. Daniel then wore the tennis
shoes at the station house for about 6 to 8 weeks, until May
2015, when the Deputy Chief told him that he could no longer
wear them because they did not comply with the
Department's policy for station shoes.
asserts that wearing the tennis shoes "did not
re-aggravate his ankle injury," but after he reverted to
wearing station shoes, his ankle started to "swell"
again and "exacerbated his pain." Two months after
being told that he could not wear his prescribed tennis
shoes, Daniel reinjured his ankle and soon thereafter
seriously injured his shoulder when he lost his footing
climbing down from a fire truck.
Department placed Daniel on light-duty status after the
shoulder injury. While working on light-duty status, the
Department did not allow Daniel to wear his prescribed tennis
shoes. Because Daniel claimed that not being able to wear the
prescribed shoes made the light-duty job fall outside of his
physical restrictions, the Department placed him on leave.
The Department told him that he could return to work if his
work restrictions allowed him to wear shoes that complied
with the Department's footwear policy.
on injury leave, Daniel and the Department engaged in
"numerous" meetings to discuss a shoe that would
comply with the Department's uniform policy and
Daniel's footwear prescription; they never agreed on an
acceptable shoe. The Department informed Daniel that if he
wished to receive workers' compensation benefits for his
injury and continue his employment, he would have to comply
with the Department's uniform guidelines.
then sued the City in December 2015, asserting claims under
the Minnesota Human Rights Act, Minn. Stat. §§
363A.01-.44 (2018), and the Minnesota Workers'
Compensation Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 176.001-.862
(2018). He claims that the City violated the human rights act
by not allowing him to wear doctor-prescribed tennis shoes
inside the station house, which, he alleges, was a reasonable
accommodation. He also maintains that the City retaliated
against him for seeking an accommodation.
month after he sued the City, Daniel completed a
functional-capacity examination for the City. The examination
revealed that he was "not able to reach shoulder level
with his left arm" and that "he could only carry 40
pounds seldom and only 20 pounds over his head seldom."
These examination results prompted the City to seek early
retirement benefits for Daniel.
accepted the early retirement benefits in March 2016, ending
his employment with the City. In a deposition, he stated that
he could have had surgery for his shoulder injury and not
retired early, but he agreed to early retirement because he
was told that even if he had the surgery, "the fire
department did not have a position for [him] to wear tennis
2016, Daniel settled his workers' compensation claims for
about $125, 000. The settlement agreement identified and
covered specific work-related, physical injuries that Daniel
sustained between 2001 and 2015, including his ankle
City moved for summary judgment on the remaining claims 2
months later, arguing in part that the exclusivity provision
of the workers' compensation act bars Daniel's claims
under the human rights act. Daniel also moved for summary
judgment. The district court denied both motions, concluding
that (1) the claims under the human rights act were not
barred because the workers' compensation act does not
provide a remedy for the discrimination claims that Daniel
alleged under that act, and (2) factual disputes precluded
summary judgment on Daniel's claims.
City filed an interlocutory appeal,  asserting that the district
court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over Daniel's
claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act because the
exclusivity provision of the Minnesota Workers'
Compensation Act bars such claims. The court of appeals agreed
and reversed the district court's decision to deny
summary judgment on the human rights act claims. Daniel
v. City of Minneapolis, No. A17-0141, 2017 WL 6418220,
at *5 (Minn.App. Dec. 18, 2017). The court remanded the case
for the district court to address Daniel's remaining
claims. Id. at *6. Daniel petitioned for review,
which we granted.
consider whether the district court has subject-matter
jurisdiction over Daniel's claims under the human rights
act. McGowan v. Our Savior's Lutheran Church,
527 N.W.2d 830, 832-34 (Minn. 1995). The court has no
subject-matter jurisdiction over claims barred by the
exclusivity provision of the workers' compensation act.
Id. An order denying summary judgment based on
subject-matter jurisdiction is immediately appealable.
Id. at 833. Subject-matter jurisdiction is a
question of law that we review de novo. Nelson v.
Schlener, 859 N.W.2d 288, 291 (Minn. 2015).
general, "unless a statute provides that its remedy is
exclusive," a party may bring claims that arise out of
the same set of facts under different statutes. Abraham
v. Cty. of Hennepin, 639 N.W.2d 342, 346-47 (Minn.
2002). Daniel has asserted claims under two acts, both of
which contain exclusivity provisions: the Minnesota
Workers' Compensation Act and the Minnesota Human Rights
Act. The exclusivity provision in the workers'
compensation act states: "The liability of an employer
prescribed by this chapter is exclusive and in the place of
any other liability to such employee . . . on account of such
injury or death." Minn. Stat. § 176.031. Similarly,
the exclusivity provision in the human rights act states:
"as to acts declared unfair by [the human rights act],
the procedure herein provided shall, while pending, be
exclusive." Minn. Stat. § 363A.04.
previously considered the relationship between these two
exclusivity provisions in Karst v. F.C. Hayer
Company. There, an employee who had received
workers' compensation benefits for work-related injuries
brought a discrimination claim under the human rights act for
the employer's refusal to rehire him. 447 N.W.2d at
182-83. We held that the exclusivity provision under the
workers' compensation act barred the employee's
claims for disability discrimination under the human rights
act. Id. at 186.
reaching this conclusion, we rejected the employee's
argument that he could bring claims under the human rights
act because discrimination was an injury "separate and
distinct" from the loss of employment. Id. at
184. We concluded, without explanation, that "[a]lthough
the injuries suffered by Karst as a result of [the
employer's] refusal to rehire him may be conceptually
distinct from his work-related injuries, any difference is
of focusing on the "exact nature and cause of these
injuries," and whether the injury from
disability discrimination fell within the coverage of the
workers' compensation act, we considered whether that act
provided the employee a "remedy" for the
employer's refusal to rehire the injured employee.
Id. After determining that a remedy existed under
the workers' compensation act, we noted that when that
act applies, we have been unwilling to extend existing
"narrow" exceptions to its exclusivity clause
absent clear legislative intent. Id. at 184-85.
next to the human rights act, we acknowledged the
Legislature's policy declaration to" 'secure for
persons in this state, freedom from discrimination . . . [i]n
employment because of . . . disability.'"
Id. at 185 (quoting Minn. Stat. § 363.12, subd.
1 (1988)). We further acknowledged that the plain language of
the act could reasonably be read to cover "people
disabled as a result of work-related physical injuries."
Id. Without first finding any ambiguity in the
act's language, we reviewed the legislative history of
the human rights act. Because the legislative history did not
discuss the likely impact of the reasonable-accommodation
provision on the workers' compensation act, we
interpreted this legislative silence to mean that the
"legislature did not intend to authorize virtually every
injured worker who is not rehired to bring a disability
discrimination action." Id.
further determined that because the two acts were
substantially amended in the same legislative session, we
could not resolve the conflict that existed between each
act's exclusivity provision by looking at which one was
enacted last. Id. at 186. Concerned with the
potential for an employer's dual liability and persuaded
by the reasoning of a single case from the Wisconsin Court of
Appeals,  we "decline[d] to interpret the Human
Rights Act as applicable here." Id.
the parties dispute whether Karst is good law and
whether this case is distinguishable from Karst. The
City argues that we must follow Karst under the
doctrine of stare decisis because the Legislature has not
amended either act in response to Karst. Reasoning
that this case is indistinguishable from Karst, the
City asserts that Daniel's claims under the human rights
act are barred by the workers' compensation
urges us to overrule Karst and hold that the two
exclusivity provisions do not conflict. He contends that he
can pursue his claims under the human rights act because they
relate to discrimination, an injury that is separate and
distinct from a workplace injury that may precede the
discrimination. Alternatively, even if we continue to adhere
to Karst, Daniel argues that his claims are
distinguishable because Karst is limited to claims
for an employer's refusal to rehire a disabled employee