The Potluck

St. Paul Park oil refinery reaches settlement with state over discrimination case

By: - February 5, 2020 11:43 am

A St. Paul Park oil refinery is in the doghouse after the company settled with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights for violating anti-discrimination laws. 

Laura Ritt with her service dog, River.

The state agency announced that Marathon Petroleum Corporation would pay a former employee $75,000 after an investigation found it unlawfully denied her request to bring her service dog, River, to work. 

“This settlement agreement sends the message that employers have important obligations to provide reasonable accommodations to ensure their employees’ dignity,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero in a statement. 

Lucero also said disability discrimination is one of the largest areas the department invesigates. 

The employee, Laura Ritt, is a veteran who became disabled during her time in the armed forces. She worked in the office of the St. Paul refinery as an administrative assistant and had requested to bring her professionally-trained service dog.

According to the Department of Human Rights, the companyrepeatedly denied her requests, even after a psychiatric nurse practitioner disclosed her diagnosis and explained how the service animal would be helpful. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the company has to reform its policies and procedures to ensure reasonable accomodations for employees with disabilities; provide anti-discrimination and anti-bias training; and also partner with the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to recruit qualified individuals with disabilities.


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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.