On paper, all employees in Minnesota are protected against any form of discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment. The Minnesota Human Rights Act, clearly prohibits workplace discrimination based on sex (including pregnancy and child birth), sexual orientation, or marital status. The law applies to both private and public companies. In real life, however, sexual harassment is still very much a thing and many victims are too afraid to speak out. Talking to a lawyer is the first step to put an end to this type of abuse and shaming those who have made you suffer. Also, make them pay for what they did.
How can sexual harassment lawyers help victims of sex-based discrimination? First of all, they can help you understand if you do have a case. And, looking at recent court decisions in Minnesota it might be easier than you think.
According to the law, sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor solicits sexual favors from an employee, or when the plaintiff can prove they had to work in a hostile environment.
In recent years, there’s been a lot of debate in Minnesota about what constitutes sexual harassment and what doesn’t. If you look at the law, an employee needs to prove there was a pervasively hostile work environment and explain the type of harassment they were subjected to. This can be anything from comments on their looks, sexually-charged remarks or conversations, as well as explicit jokes shared specifically to intimidate them and make them uncomfortable. At the same time, the display of sexually-suggestive images in the workplace or repeatedly sending offensive messages also falls under sexual harassment.
One of the main problem victims of sexual harassment are faced with is proving the pervasive nature of such incidents. However, Minnesota sexual harassment lawyers have successfully challenged this notion and the judges in more than one case ruled that credibility determinations are unnecessary when it comes to sexual harassment. Basically, the court decided to eliminate the need to weigh if the incidents cited by the victim amount to a pervasively hostile work environment.
Employment lawyers say this is good news for the victims as it’s easier to prove they were sexually harassed. On the other hand, one needs to keep in mind that this doesn’t happen in all cases. It all depends on the judge and on the attorney you choose.
At the same time, sexual harassment victims need to understand that the first step in finding justice is usually filing a complaint with the Minnesota Human Rights Commission. This commission can mediate between the plaintiff and their employer and can also award damages. You will need a skilled lawyer during these negotiations, which can be very nasty as the employer and their lawyers won’t hesitate to try to destroy your reputation and credibility.
If a settlement cannot be reached through mediation, your lawyer will guide through the process of filing a lawsuit so your voice gets heard in a court of law.