Minnesota Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney
Your workplace can be an intimidating environment. Sometimes, this creates an atmosphere that makes it easier for people to take advantage of others, which can often lead to workplace sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a terrifying thing to endure, and it can leave you feeling violated and unsafe in a place you regularly attend. No one should have to experience sexual harassment anywhere, including the workplace. If you find yourself suffering from workplace sexual harassment, contact a workplace sexual harassment attorney who can help you fight for your rights.
What is Workplace Sexual Harassment in Minnesota?
In Minnesota, sexual harassment is defined as uninvited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact, or other sexually motivated verbal or physical behavior or communication. Workplace sexual harassment results in three key scenarios:
- It is explicitly or implicitly communicated that the worker must submit to the behavior to retain employment.
- The worker’s submission to or rejection of the behavior is factored into decisions that influence their employment.
- The behavior has the purpose of substantially interfering with a worker’s employment or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Although many behaviors can fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment, it is generally categorized in two ways.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that translates to “something for something”. It’s a term used to characterize incidents where someone proposes to receive a favor for something in return. This form of harassment often manifests as a victim being required to perform a sex act or become romantically involved with the perpetrator in exchange for continued employment or some other work benefit.
Typically, sexual harassment involves the harasser determining whether the victim:
- Receives a job
- Keeps their job
- Is chosen for a promotion
- Gets a raise or bonus
- Gets a fair performance review
In essence, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a perpetrator expresses or indicates that agreeing to sexual acts or romantic involvement would alter or determine aspects of the victim’s employment.
Hostile Work Environment
Numerous acts of sexual harassment fall under the category of a hostile work environment. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a hostile work environment encompasses two stipulations:
- The victim must be experiencing sexual advances, innuendos, comments, or any other unwelcome conduct based on sex; and
- These actions must be severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
This type of sexual harassment can include a single incident or a series of incidents that are ongoing and cannot be ignored.
What Does Workplace Sexual Harassment Look Like?
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can occur in various ways. Both the victim and the harasser can be of any gender and the victim does not have to be the harasser’s opposite sex. The harasser could be a supervisor, coworker, vendor, client, or anyone else affiliated with the company. The victim does not have to be the harassed person; anyone affected by the objectionable behavior could be a victim. In addition, unlawful sexual harassment can occur without causing financial harm or resulting in the victim’s dismissal, but the harasser’s conduct must be unwelcomed.
Sexual harassment can include any of the following actions:
- Alluding to sexual preferences or intimacy
- Commenting on a person’s body or appearance
- Firing a person for refusing sexual advances
- Making indecent proposals
- Making sexual innuendos
- Showing sexual or obscene images
- Unsolicited or unwanted advances
- Using obscene language
Many sexual harassment cases start small and escalate over time.
How am I Protected Against Workplace Sexual Harassment in Minnesota?
Sexual harassment in the workplace is considered a form of sex discrimination, therefore prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Because of this statute, employers are prohibited from allowing anyone to be sexually harassed at work, regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation.
The goal of Title VII is to hold employers accountable for maintaining a workplace free of harassment and other forms of discrimination. Employers who permit harassment to occur are breaking the law.
As well, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting or speaking out against sexual harassment or participating in an investigation or legal action related to sexual harassment. Retaliation can be overt actions such as being fired or receiving a pay cut, but it can also be subtle such as being ostracized from your coworkers.
What Can You do About Workplace Sexual Harassment in Minnesota?
When faced with incidents of sexual harassment, it’s not always clear what you should do either as the target of the harassment or as someone who has observed the misconduct. While each situation is different, there are some general things you can do to protect yourself and exercise your rights.
Document the Incident
Keep a record of any offensive conversations, emails, or messages with the perpetrator. Remember to note the time and frequency of these occurrences and any witnesses to the behavior.
Make it Clear the Behavior is Unwelcome
One of the stipulations for sexual harassment is unwelcomed or unsolicited behavior. It will help your case if you explicitly tell the perpetrator their behavior is unwelcome.
Report the Harassment According to Your Company’s Policy
Every company should have a policy in place for the procedures that may be followed in the case of sexual harassment. Follow your company’s procedure for reporting the incident to the necessary authority and look for them to complete an investigation and take some form of action.
Consult a Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney
While companies are required to investigate sexual harassment reports and take action against harassers, they do not always follow through and further legal action may be necessary. Talk to an attorney about your situation for them to evaluate your case and search for a viable lawsuit.
File a Claim with the EEOC
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws related to the workplace and employment. If you file a claim with the EEOC, they will conduct their own investigation into your employer.
File a Lawsuit Against Your Employer
When action isn’t being taken against your harasser, it may be in your best interest to hire a workplace sexual harassment attorney to help you file a lawsuit against your employer. It is their responsibility to keep the workplace free of harassment, therefore it’s understandable to hold them accountable for their inaction.
Reach Out to a Skilled Minnesota Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney
Working is hard enough without having to worry about someone violating your rights and safety. Under the law, you are protected from workplace sexual harassment. You are within your rights to take legal action against your employer if they allow the harassment to persist.
At Knutson + Casey we have defended thousands of clients in various cases, therefore we know how to use the law to our best advantage. If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment, you can look to us for quality representation when you’re ready to take legal action. Using our years of experience, we can help you hold your employer accountable and recover damages for all that you have suffered. To contact our firm, call us at (507) 344-8888 at or submit our contact form and we can schedule your free consultation.