By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A former employee of St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter testified Wednesday that the Mayor’s office discriminated against her because of her disability.

At a Minnesota Senate hearing, 23-year-old Hope Hoffman gave a testimony, as well as others with disabilities.

Hoffman has spina bifida which makes walking difficult. For five months she worked in St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s office where she says she repeatedly asked for information about the amount of walking she would have to do when accompanying the Mayor.

“After my request was ignored my managers treatment changed towards me and the kinds of work I was asked to do changed,” Hoffman said. “I was asked to clean up conference tables with trays and pictures they knew I couldn’t carry and then embarrassed me in front of other employees berating me to ask them for help.”

She even brought up her concerns to the Mayor.

“The mayor said he would look into it and there was no follow up on his end,” Hoffman said.

In October, Hoffman quit.

Recently, she filed a discrimination complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Sitting next to Hope at the Senate hearing her father, Democratic State Senator John Hoffman, wants the state to examine how it treats those with disabilities.

Others with disabilities also testified about their on-the-job isolation and difficulties, resulting in an apology from the Republican Committee Chair.

“I am so sorry for the challenges this panel has expressed today,” Senator Jim Abeler said.

Senator Hoffman says for this upcoming legislative session, he will propose a bill to make it easier for those with disabilities to apply for and receive accommodations.

And he says he already has bipartisan support.

Carter has ordered the City’s Department of Human Rights to initiate a 3rd party investigation into Hoffman’s departure.

Esme Murphy

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