Photo courtesy Villaume Industries' website

Minnesota Department of Human Rights reaches settlement with employer for refusing to hire women

Settlement requires Villaume Industries to implement systemic reforms to create an inclusive and welcoming workplace as well as pay $90,000 in fines.

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The Minnesota Department of Human Rights today announced a settlement agreement with Villaume Industries in Eagan after learning the wood products manufacturer had a practice of refusing to hire women.

“Refusing to hire women is blatant gender discrimination. It’s akin to posting a sign that says: women need not apply here,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “This settlement agreement helps bring attention to how women continue to face both explicit and implicit discrimination in the workplace. As the state’s civil rights enforcement agency, we are committed to ensuring every woman can live with dignity and joy, free from discrimination.”  

On Nov. 14, 2019, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched an investigation into Villaume Industries after finding they refused to accept women applicants from an employment placement agency as part of a separate investigation.

Under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, sex discrimination is prohibited, and employers cannot refuse to hire someone because of their sex.

The settlement agreement ends the ongoing investigation and seeks to transform the company’s hiring practices by requiring Villaume Industries, in part, to:

  • Recruit and hire women.
  • Amend all recruitment materials to explicitly state the company welcomes and values women in the workplace.
  • Establish relationships with organizations that help employers recruit qualified women.
  • Provide anti-bias, cultural humility, and welcoming workplace training to employees.
  • Report hiring data to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights every 90 days.
  • Pay $90,000 as a civil penalty, settlement monitoring costs, and a donation to an organization that supports the advancement of women in the workplace.
  • Create, maintain, and implement workplace anti-discrimination policies that comply with the Minnesota Human Rights Act.

“We are pleased we were able to reach an agreement with Villaume Industries and are encouraged by how the company will begin to change its hiring practices,” Commissioner Lucero concluded.


The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency. If you experienced or witnessed discrimination or bias call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or submit this online form.

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