In a much-anticipated decision, the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 3, 2020, declined to abandon the requirement that harassing conduct be “severe or pervasive” to be actionable under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).
Articles Discussing Sexual Harassment Claims In Minnesota.
Earlier this month MIOSHA released a new Fact Sheet entitled Eyewashes and Safety Showers. Briefly, this Fact Sheet states the general requirement that:
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.
A Michigan appellate court denied an attempt by an employee to receive a severance jackpot based on a drafting mistake made by his former employer. Notwithstanding the employee’s entitlement, based on the terms of his separation agreement, to receive approximately $81 thousand dollars per week for 34 weeks, the State of Michigan Court of Appeals upheld the lower court’s decision to reform the contract, resulting in the employee receiving a total of $81 thousand over 34 weeks. The case highlights, among other things, the importance of proofreading.
That alleged sexually explicit behavior was directed at both men and women is irrelevant in determining the existence of a hostile work environment under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Supreme Court has held. Rasmussen v. Two Harbors Fish Company d/b/a Lou’s Fish House et al., No. A11-2178 (Minn. May 22, 2013). The Court further ruled that employees need not offer evidence of a loss of pay or benefits to establish a hostile work environment claim. Finally, it held that an employee whose conduct subjects the employer to vicarious liability for hostile work environment sexual harassment claims cannot be held individually liable as an aider and abettor under the MHRA.
Explaining that whether sexual harassment occurred is a legal determination under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed a trial court’s dismissal of three employees’ suit for hostile work environment against their employers. Rasmussen v. Two Harbors Fish Co., No. A11-2178 (Minn. Ct. App. July 23, 2012).