UMLC Files Reply Brief in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Minnesota Department of Human Services


Tuesday, May 23, 2023  


Chris Mulcahey 

[email protected]

UMLC Files Reply Brief in Religious Discrimination Lawsuit Against Minnesota Department of Human Services

The federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will decide whether to reverse the lower court’s case dismissal.

Golden Valley, MN – The Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) recently submitted a reply brief to the federal Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals (COA) as part of UMLC’s appeal seeking a reversal of the District Court’s decision to dismiss Joseph Norgren’s and Aaron Norgren’s lawsuits based on the department’s violations of their violating their First Amendment and federal employment rights. 

In 2022, UMLC filed two lawsuits in the United States District Court against the Department of Human Services and Commissioner Harpstead on behalf of Joseph Norgren and Aaron Norgren. The Norgrens asserted claims of religious discrimination and retaliation, among others. The claims arose in August 2020 when supervisors informed the Norgrens that they would be required to complete mandatory training on Critical Race Theory and gender identity ideologies. The Norgrens opposed these teachings, which included mandates to act in accordance with them, as contrary to their religious beliefs. When the Norgrens sought exemptions from these trainings, DHS denied them. Joseph Norgren felt forced out of DHS after 27 years of loyal service and resigned. When Aaron Norgren filed a charge of discrimination, he was then retaliated against when the DHS claimed that he was suddenly unqualified for a position it had previously invited him to apply for.

“DHS discriminated against the Norgrens because of their Christian beliefs by forcing anti-Christian training, with response mandates, on them as part of their employment,”  said James Dickey, Senior Counsel for UMLC. “They created a hostile environment for their 27-year employee, Joseph Norgren, and forced him into early retirement. They retaliated against Aaron Norgren when he filed a charge of discrimination against them. We ask the Eighth Circuit to rectify this discrimination by reversing the District Court.”

Read the entire reply brief to the Court here.


Upper Midwest Law Center is a non-profit, public-interest law firm with the mission to initiate pro-freedom litigation to protect against constitutional violations, government overreach, special interest agendas, and public union corruption and abuses. UMLC is a 501(c)(3) organization.

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