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S.F. No. 2295 - Sexual harassment definition modification
 
Author: Senator Karin Housley
 
Prepared By: Priyanka Premo, Senate Counsel (651/296-3914)
 
Date: March 14, 2019



 

This bill amends the definition of “sexual harassment” in the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA).

Background

Under the MHRA, one of the ways sexual harassment discrimination may occur is when unwanted sexual advances, conduct, or communication create an intimidating or hostile environment substantially interfering with an individual’s employment, public accommodations, public services, educational, or housing.

In interpreting this provision, Minnesota courts have adopted the federal standard used to interpret certain federal discrimination claims that require the discriminatory harassment to be sufficiently “severe or pervasive” in order to be actionable.

Summary

Article 1 provides a statement of legislative intent related to the definition of sexual harassment in the MHRA.

Article 2 removes the requirement that an environment be offensive.  Requires harassing conduct or communication to: (1) be objectively and subjectively harassing; and (2) be sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms or conditions of an individual’s employment, public accommodations, public services, education, or housing and create an abusive environment.

Severe or pervasive includes: (1) a single significant instance of harassing conduct or communication or (2) a series of instances of harassing conduct or communications.

Unless harassment results in a tangible adverse action, an employer that knew or should have known of an employee’s sexual harassment is not liable if: (1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent or promptly correct sexual harassment; or (2) the employee unreasonable failed to take advantage of preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.

Effective date. This bill is effective January 1, 2020 and applies to causes of action arising on or after that date.

 
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