Minnesota – January 31, 2021

A former Minnesota police officer  is suing the city of Goodhue, alleging the chief of police (at the time of the incident, who has resigned) sent her images of male genitals and made sexual advances over text message, and the city failed to properly investigate the negative activity and reduced her work hours the month after she reported the inappropriate behavior.  The lawsuit claims that the Chief of Police and the City violated civil rights against sexual harassment and retaliation for terminating the officer’s employment after reporting.  The civil complaint states the “sexually derogatory comments and suggestions were implicitly accompanied by threats” if the officer did not respond favorably.  The Minnesota police department in question allowed a toxic work environment to continue and endangered conditions of employment for the victim of sexual harassment.

 Law.

The law addresses sexual harassment in the form of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature through:

  • Quid Pro Quo. Authoritative figures/bosses in the workplace demand, or require sexual acts for preferential treatment, or to avoid punitive action.
  • Hostile Work Environment. A boss or employer does not remedy a work environment where sexually inappropriate behavior is present creating intimidating, hostile and abusive work environments.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies, labor organizations, and the federal government.  If there is some reason that a victim is not protected under Title VII language, a civil rights, personal injury, or employment law attorney may be able to offer another means toward compensation when sexual harassment causes harm and damage to an employee.

Sexual harassment claims.

Sexual harassment claims cannot be made if the sexual behavior was welcomed, or occurred with mutual consent. Sexual harassment is illegal when it is so frequent, or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision, such as a victim being fired, transferred, or demoted.  The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Legal recourse.

Victims of sexual harassment have legal options against sexual harassment, and seeking legal counsel is the first thing a victim  should do after reporting the abuse through the proper channels at a place of employment, or at school, or wherever the incident took place; if there are procedural guidelines set up that must be followed.

Avenues for reporting.

  •  Direct reporting.
  • Requesting mediation as an informal solution.
  • Employer grievance procedures.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the alleged sexual harassment in the workplace.

Damage recovery.

 Speak with an attorney regarding compensation.

  • Monetary damages including back pay, attorney and court fees, emotional pain, and negative effects of the harassment.
  • Equitable relief by job reinstatement, or promotion.
  • Punitive damages if actions were extremely offensive, and egregious sexual harassment misconduct.

If you, or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment, or related sexual assault, seek out a professional attorney for guidance toward legal actions that will remedy the situation.

Sources.

https://www.startribune.com/lawsuit-says-goodhue-minn-police-chief-sent-unwanted-sexual-texts-to-female-officer/600015321/

https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/26/us/harvey-weinstein-victims-settlement-approved/index.html

https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs/TitleVI-Overview

https://www.ada.gov/

https://www.justice.gov/crt/fcs/TitleVI-Overview

https://www.ada.gov/

https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/title-vii-civil-rights-act-1964

https://www.eeoc.gov/statutes/age-discrimination-employment-act-1967

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