Minnesota Legislature Considers Changes to Sexual Harassment Law

The Minnesota Legislature has been considering H.F. 4459, “a bill for an act clarifying the definition of sexual harassment” under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA). The bill would amend Minn. Stat. § 363A.03, subd. 43, which defines sexual harassment in employment, education, housing, and public service contexts.

Currently, Minnesota courts require that sexual harassment be “severe or pervasive” to be actionable under the MHRA. See Rasmussen v. Two Harbors Fish Co., 832 N.W.2d 790, 796 (Minn. 2013). This definition of actionable sexual harassment also mirrors the definition of sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The proposed bill would add language to Minn. Stat. § 363A.03 providing that “an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment … does not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive.” If passed, the amendment would apply to sexual harassment claims after August 1, 2018.

If the bill is successful, it will arguably lower the bar for actionable claims in Minnesota which could in turn significantly increase the number of claims faced by employers. Recent reports state that the bill is stalled in the Senate due to concerns from the business community.

Takeaway: Stay tuned for updates to Minnesota’s sexual harassment law. If you want to express concerns about this proposed legislation, contact your legislators.

About Kristin Emmons

Kristin Emmons is an associate in Briggs and Morgan's Employment, Benefits and Labor section. Kristin earned her law degree with a concentration in business law from the University of Minnesota Law School, magna cum laude, where she served as an admissions ambassador, and was active in the Business Law Association, and the Litigation and Trial Advocacy Group. While in law school, she participated in Intellectual Property Moot Court as a director and competitor, and won the Regional Moot Court Competition in 2017. She earned a bachelor of business administration in management and a bachelor of arts in political science from the University of North Dakota, both summa cum laude, where she was involved in Student Senate, University Senate, and was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society and the Phi Beta Lambda organization. Kristin was a 2016 summer associate at Briggs.

Posted on May 4, 2018, in Discrimination and Harassment, Employment Policies and Agreements, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Minnesota Legislature Considers Changes to Sexual Harassment Law.

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