Eagan-based Villaume Industries pays $90K fine in gender discrimination case

After the Minnesota Department of Human Rights found the company refused to hire women, Villaume committed to reforms
Publish date:
The St. Paul office for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights

The St. Paul office for the Minnesota Department of Human Rights

After the Minnesota Department of Human Rights launched an investigation into the extent of gender discrimination at Eagan-based Villaume Industries, the company has agreed to a settlement.  

The MDH announced Monday that it opened an investigation into Villaume Industries in 2019 after "learning" it refused to hire women during a separate investigation into an employment agency. 

The wood products manufacturing company has denied violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act, but its settlement closes the investigation and forces the company to pay a $90,000 fine and commit to a series of reforms, including: 

  • Amend recruitment materials to "explicitly state the company welcomes and values women in the workplace" 
  • Recruit and hire women; report hiring data to the DHR every 90 days 
  • Provide employee training on recognizing bias, cultural humility and what makes a "welcoming workplace"
  • Issue a donation to an organization that supports the advancement of women in the workplace.

A company settling with MDHR amid an investigation is one way these cases end. In other cases, the department may progress the investigation to the point of finding probable cause, at which point the agency may reach a settlement with the company, a spokesperson for MDHR said. 

If MDH finds probable cause but doesn't reach a settlement, it may sue a company - as was the case in 2019, when the agency sued CSL Plasma for violating the state's Human Rights Acts by not allowing a transgender woman to donate plasma.

Of the complaints MDH investigates, employment-related issues are the most common. Within those employment issues, sex-based discrimination is among the most common, the MDH spokesperson said. 

“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 in a press release. “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.” 

Next Up

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 5.09.01 PM

Defense witness: Cause of Floyd's death 'undetermined'

Dr. David Fowler, former Maryland chief medical examiner, said there were a number of possible factors that could have led to George Floyd's death.

Jorge Polanco

Twins drop 4th straight game in opener of doubleheader

The Red Sox defeated the Twins 3-2 in Game 1.

Minnesota Wild

Wild score 3 power play goals in win over Coyotes

Mats Zuccarello scored twice in a 5-2 victory.

Screen Shot 2021-04-14 at 2.38.15 PM

Viral drone video of Bryant Lake Bowl to be auctioned off as NFT

Non-fungible tokens are the latest craze in consumer finance.

kimberly potter

Here's what the manslaughter charge against Kim Potter says

Activists are calling for more serious charges against the former officer.

Tim Walz

Gov. Tim Walz criticized for comments on 'thoughtful' use of tear gas

The governor is under fire for comments he made Tuesday as protests continue over the police killing of Daunte Wright.

Andrelton Simmons

Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons placed on COVID-19 list

Simmons is reportedly experiencing mild symptoms.

Screen Shot 2021-04-12 at 8.53.07 PM

Kim Potter to be charged with second-degree manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Potter was a 26-year veteran officer before she resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Tuesday.


edgewood sartell

Senior living facility discriminated against worker because she is Black

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced the settlement Tuesday.

Eagan-based CaringBridge to celebrate 15th anniversary at MOA

To celebrate, the nonprofit organization will attempt to set the world record for the most people to sign a greeting card during an event at the Mall of America Thursday. CaringBridge was founded in 1997 -- seven years before Facebook. It provides free personalized websites to help people with serious health issues stay connected to family and friends.

Screen Shot 2019-09-19 at 8.02.09 AM

Police: Scammers dupe Eagan residents out of $440K in 2019

More than $440,000 has been stolen through scams in Eagan this year.

Pepsi to pay $3.1 million to settle Minnesota discrimination complaint

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said the soda giant's policy on criminal background checks was discriminatory and adversely affected hundreds of African-American job applicants, including many in Minnesota. The company's policy was to not hire anyone with an arrest on their record, even if they were not convicted of a crime.

Roseville food company fined for paying women less than men

They were paying men more for doing the same job as women.

Armed suspect shot dead by police in Eagan after negotiation

The incident began with a domestic assault call around 6 p.m. Tuesday.