Minnesota Legislature Introduces Separate Bills to Modify Sexual Harassment Standard

The Minnesota Legislature is considering two bills related to the standard for sexual harassment claims under the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).

On March 21, the Minnesota House passed H.F. 10, which seeks to change the definition of “sexual harassment” under the MHRA. The proposed language provides that conduct need not be “severe or pervasive” to constitute sexual harassment. A similar bill was introduced in 2018 and failed. If the proposed bill is successful, it will lower the threshold for actionable sexual harassment claims.

Additionally, this month, the Senate introduced S.F. 2295, which would modify the precedential effect of certain case law regarding what conduct constitutes sexual harassment. The proposal purports to clarify legislative intent for sexual harassment claims under the MHRA by stating that Minnesota courts “should not be bound by prior federal case law” regarding sexual harassment claims and specifically identifying certain Federal cases. It also appears to modify the standard for holding employers liable for harassment by supervisors established in Frieler v. CMG (Minnesota Supreme Court 2018).

Takeaway: This legislation will dramatically affect how sexual harassment cases are litigated in Minnesota. If this is of importance to you or your business, you should contact your local senators and representatives.

Authored by: Kristin (Emmons) Simonet and Greg Stenmoe

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 March 25, 2019, in Discrimination and Harassment, Employment Policies and Agreements, Litigation, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Minnesota Legislature Introduces Separate Bills to Modify Sexual Harassment Standard.

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