If a state agency violates MN Statutes 43A.11 (which gives preference to hiring military veterans in some circumstances), can the Minnesota Attorney General open an investigation under MN Statutes 8.31?

MN Statutes 8.31 subd 1. title said "Investigate offenses against provisions of certain designated sections". So I wasn't sure if this also apply to MN Statutes 43A.11.

1 Answer 1


The relevant language says:

The attorney general shall investigate violations of the law of this state respecting unfair, discriminatory, and other unlawful practices in business, commerce, or trade, and specifically, but not exclusively. . . .

This particular statute probably doesn't apply, since the preference applies to state government hiring practices, and not to "practices in business, commerce, or trade".

The state AG almost surely has the authority to investigate allegedly illegal hiring practices of the state government under some other statutory provision, but this statute is not the source of that authority.

Apart from the government v. business, commerce or trade problem, the fact that the statute in question isn't mentioned specifically isn't a problem, because the statutes identified specifically are expressly stated to be only examples of the statutes to which it applies. So if there are "unfair, discriminatory, or other unlawful practices" prohibited by another statute, the fact that it isn't mentioned specifically isn't the problem.

Also, the use of the world "shall" in this statute is misleading.

While this is stated as a mandatory obligation, in fact, this statute merely authorizes the state attorney general to do so. It does not create any legally enforceable duty to actually investigate any particular violation. This is, in fact, a matter of prosecutorial discretion that is completely up to the internal policies and procedures of the current holder of the office of state attorney general.

In the sense used, "shall" is a word allocating authority rather than creating a mandatory obligation.

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