The Minnesota Department of Human Rights was established in 1967, but a number of commissions preceded the department as we know it today.
The Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC), created in 1955 (Laws of Minnesota 1955, chapter 516), consisted of nine members, one from each congressional district, appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The commissioners' terms were set at five years, and at least one of the members had to be a lawyer. The commission's chairman was designated by the governor and the executive director was chosen by the commission.
The duty of the FEPC was to formulate policies to put the Fair Employment Practices Act into effect. The commission was given the power to employ attorneys; to issue, receive, and investigate complaints alleging discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin; to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, and take testimony relating to discrimination complaints; and to conduct research on discriminatory employment practices.
If a complaint of employment discrimination could not be resolved through education, conference, conciliation, and persuasion, the governor was empowered to set up a three-member board of review drawn from a panel of twelve members previously appointed by the governor. The board held public hearings and rendered a decision that could be enforced by, or appealed to, the state district court.
In 1961, the FEPC was succeeded by the State Commission Against Discrimination (SCAD), when its jurisdiction was amended to include fair housing practices (Laws of Minn. 1961, chap. 428). This new commission was given jurisdiction over housing discrimination complaints. The organization and other duties of the commission remained essentially the same. SCAD worked closely with the Governor's Human Rights Commission in areas of concern to both groups.
In 1967, the state of Minnesota created the Department of Human Rights (Laws of Minn. 1967, chap. 897) when the legislature broadened the scope of SCAD. In addition to succeeding SCAD, the department also absorbed the duties of the Governor's Human Rights Commission, the Minneapolis Mayor's Council on Human Relations, and the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women, which had been created by executive order in 1963.
[Note: History adapted from MNHS' finding aid on the Human Rights Department.]