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Minnesota’s Stance on Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is often a contentious issue for many states, and Minnesota is certainly no exception. The North Star State has its own unique approach to workplace discrimination and sexual assault, and these laws have been at the center of a fierce debate for many years. If you have suffered from sexual harassment in Minnesota, you may be slightly confused about how to proceed.

Of course, even a relatively “minor” instance of sexual harassment at the workplace in Automba can be extremely disturbing, and it can be difficult for someone to deal with these experiences mentally, physically, and emotionally. If you have experienced any type of sexual harassment at the workplace, it’s important to get help from a qualified attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer who has a firm understanding of employment law, civil rights, and Minnesota’s specific legislation on sexual harassment can assist you as you strive for justice.

Minnesota’s High Standards for Sexual Harassment

Because of the phrasing of its legislation, the state of Minnesota is known for having relatively high standards for what may constitute sexual harassment. The words that are debated time and time again in the North Star State are “severe” and “pervasive.” According to the laws, the harassment suffered by an employee must be “severe or pervasive” in order to warrant punitive legal action. The problem is that many people believe that this is setting the bar too high. What is “severe” and “pervasive” sexual harassment? Isn’t all sexual harassment “severe?” This is the question that many people asked throughout recent years, especially in 2019 with the rise of the #MeToo movement.

Over the years, Minnesota has made concerted efforts to amend its sexual harassment laws. In 1993, the laws were clarified to some degree with the addition of the “reasonable person” concept. This stated that all instances of sexual harassment should be viewed through the hypothetical eyes of a “reasonable person.” In other words, if a “reasonable person” would view an incident as “severe or pervasive,” then it would constitute sexual harassment.

Minnesota’s Supreme Court Ruling on Sexual Harassment

Unfortunately, this still wasn’t enough to satisfy a number of people who had serious concerns about the state’s legislation. In 2020, Minnesota’s Supreme Court attempted to clarify the laws once again with a new ruling. Those who were concerned about the laws probably weren’t too happy about the Supreme Court’s ruling that “to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment, sexual harassment must be more than minor.” This means that courts would essentially turn a blind eye to “minor” instances of sexual harassment.

However, concerned individuals were probably more encouraged by the next ruling, which stated: “[f]or the severe-or-pervasive standard to remain useful in Minnesota, the standard must evolve to reflect changes in societal attitudes toward what is acceptable behavior in the workplace.” In other words, what might have been considered acceptable behavior in the past could potentially classify as severe or pervasive under a more modern set of standards.

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