Judge awards $3.5 in sexual orientation discrimination case

Published 10:00 am Friday, August 12, 2016

OWATONNA — A judge in southeastern Minnesota has awarded $3.5 million to a man who said he was fired from the family banking business because he’s gay.

The attorney for Stephen Habberstad says it could be one of the largest payouts in Minnesota to a single person for sexual orientation discrimination.

Steele County Judge Joseph Bueltel recently ruled Habberstad’s family discriminated against him, retaliated after he filed a lawsuit and breached its fiduciary duty. Relatives claimed Habberstad was fired for business reasons.

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The Star Tribune says family members own a piece of the Farmers and Merchants State Bank of Blooming Prairie and Citizens State Bank of Hayfield. Their holding company is Country Bankers.

The 61-year-old Habberstad says he always knew he was gay, but kept his sexual orientation to himself until he was in his 50s.