It's ugly, it's prominent, and let's be serious -- it's not going away: sexual harassment. That does not mean we shouldn't take steps to curb sexual harassment and work towards improving the workplace environment. You can be in Little Canada or Vadnais Heights or Edina, it doesn't matter where you are because the elements are present for sexual harassment to occur.
The Minnesota Human Rights Act defines sexual harassment as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:(1) submission to that conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing;
(2) submission to or rejection of that conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual's employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing; or
(3) that conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive employment, public accommodations, public services, educational, or housing environment.
Minn. Stat. Section 363A.03, subd. 43.
Definitions are helpful, but so are examples. These instances are taken from appellate opinions in Minnesota affirming sexual harassment occurred:
Repeated saying to another: "Here, let me show you how a real man takes it"
An employee revealed intimate details of his sex life to another and asked her twice if she would be interested in taking nude photographs of him.
A single occasion when an employee grabbed another's butt by placing both palms on her buttocks and squeezing.
An employee left a note on another employee's windshield which said: "I Deeply Love you and always will forever--My Love." Shortly thereafter, he went to see he went to see her, asked to look at her work schedule, stepped behind her, and began massaging her neck and shoulder.
An employee asked another when the other employee last experienced an orgasm, displayed a wind-up toy penis to another employee while at work, and collected money in an attempt to encourage an employee to shake her breasts.
To be taken from these examples is that a harassment can occur in a single incident, over many incidents, and not all the harassment need be directed at a single person.
Employers can mitigate their risk and even eliminate it with proper policies and swift action against the perpetrator. I provide hour-long seminars for employers and help investigate allegations of misconduct. Employers must pay attention and must be proactive in curbing this behavior.
The material contained herein is provided for informational purposes only and is not legal advice, nor is it a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney. Each situation is unique, and you should not act or rely on any information contained herein without seeking the advice of an experienced attorney. All information contained in links are the property of the linked site.