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The Times They Are A Changin’: Minnesota Bill Would Remove “Severe or Pervasive” Sexual Harassment Standard

After suffering two embarrassing departures of its members in the wake of sexual harassment complaints by staffers and female members, the Minnesota Legislature is considering amending the state’s discrimination statute to state that a plaintiff need not prove that the sexual harassment was “severe or pervasive.” To quote a well-known Minnesotan, Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A Changin’.”

Minnesota Legislature Proposes Sweeping Change to Sexual Harassment Law

On April 23, 2018, Minnesota House Majority Leader Joyce Peppin introduced HF 4459, a bill to amend the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) to change the legal standard for sexual harassment. The bill, which has wide bipartisan support and 34 cosponsors, has a companion bill in the Senate sponsored by Senator Karen Housley. If passed, the bill would do away with the “severe or pervasive” standard for sexual harassment claims, but is silent on the replacement. As drafted, the bill would likely create confusion and uncertainty for employers, employees, and the courts statewide.
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