Montana Civil Rights Laws

The term "civil rights " refers to the rights of individuals to receive equal treatment under the law, which includes freedom from discrimination in employment and other settings. For the most part, civil rights are enforced at the federal level -- most notably the far-reaching protections provided by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

But Montana and other states typically provide additional civil rights protections within their borders. For instance, it is a violation of Montana civil rights laws for employers to discriminate against employees on the basis of one's gender identity or expression.

Examples of Civil Rights

Examples of civil rights lawsuits include

Montana Civil Rights Act

On a state level, Montana enacted the Montana Human Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in employment based on race, creed, religion, color, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, or sex (including maternity and pregnancy)

The Act applies to all employers in the state, including employment agencies and unions. Nonprofit private membership clubs are not covered by the Act.

Montana Human Rights Bureau

The Montana Human Rights Bureau is the state agency charged with the responsibility of enforcing Montana's anti-discrimination laws. The Bureau investigates complaints of discrimination filed in the following protected areas:

  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Education
  • Public Accommodations
  • Credit/ Finance/ Insurance (sex and marital status only)
  • State and local governmental agency (or municipality)

Protected Classes

  • Age
  • Marital Status
  • Physical or Mental Disability
  • Race/ National Origin/
  • Color
  • Religion/Creed
  • Sex (including pregnancy, maternity, sexual harassment)
  • Familial Status (housing only)
  • Political ideas (only in the provisions or governmental services or governmental employment)
  • Retaliation (for engaging in a protected activity)

The procedural nuts and bolts of Montana's civil rights laws are listed in the table below. For more information, see FindLaw's Civil Rights section.

Code Section 49-2-101, et seq. (Generally); 49-4-101, et seq. (Handicapped)
Agency Generally: Human Rights Bureau; Handicapped: None
Administrative Preemption? Yes
Private Lawsuit Permitted? Yes
Attorney's Fees Recoverable Yes
Time Limit to File Generally: 180 to 300 days; Handicapped: 2 yrs. (ยง27-2- 211)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Montana Civil Rights attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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