Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment

by Chris Kuhlman on December 29, 2015

The Minnesota Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act make it illegal for employers to discriminate against their employees because of their gender, which includes sexual harassment.

If sexual harassment in your workplace has become so pervasive that it has changed the nature of your working environment, making it intimidating, hostile, or offensive, you have protections under the law.  A hostile work environment can occur when a supervisor or an employee makes sexually inappropriate remarks or comments, inappropriately touches, or sends sexually suggestive emails, pictures, texts, that makes it unreasonably hard or difficult for an employee to perform hir or her job.

A court is more likely to decide that sexual harassment has made a work environment hostile if some of these factors are present:

Nature of the Conduct

  • The conduct is outright hostile or clearly offensive;
  • There is unwanted physical contact such as groping or grabbing;
  • The sexual language used by the harasser is particularly aggressive or insulting;
  • Supervisors, or others with power in the workplace, take part in the harassment; or if
  • More than one person is a victim of the sexual harassment

The Frequency of the Conduct

  • Courts will often look at how frequently the offensive conduct occurred. Conduct that happens on a daily basis is often considered more egregious than sexual harassment that occurs once a month;
  • More than one person is the harasser; or
  • there are multiple victims of sexual harassment.

If an employer fails to prevent a hostile work environment predicated on sexual harassment, they can be held liable and ordered to pay damages to victims of sexual harassment for their negligence in remedying the ongoing problem.  Courts and juries tend to award larger damages to victims of sexual harassment if the employee can show that he or she clearly reported the sexual harassment to the employer, and the employer still did nothing to make the harassment stop.

What to do if you have been subjected to a hostile work environment

If you or a loved one has been victimized by sexual harassment and subjected to a hostile work environment, it is important to keep a record of the ongoing harassment as well as any evidence of it such as pictures, e-mails, or text messages.  A journal of all of the sexual harassment that occurred can be very helpful in assisting your sexual harassment attorney in evaluating and pursuing a sexual harassment claim.  Once you have gathered your documentation, contact a Minnesota sexual harassment lawyer immediately.

In Minnesota, it is illegal for your employer to fire you because you reported sexual harassment

Often times, victims of hostile work environment fear that their boss or supervisor will retaliate against them or they will lose their job if they report sexual harassment or a hostile work environment.  Employees who report sexual harassment have job protection under both Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act and the Minnesota Human Rights Act.  If the employee and her lawyer can demonstrate that they were fired for reporting sexual harassment, the employee can bring a lawsuit on that basis alone and seek lost wages, future lost wages, emotional harm damages and punitive damages (damages to punish the employer for their violations of the law).

Don’t be a victim anymore.  Stand up for yourself and Take Action

If you or a loved one have been subjected to a hostile work environment through sexual harassment, the first step is to take action and decide not to be a victim anymore.  Call experienced Minnesota sexual harassment lawyer, Christopher Kuhlman at Kuhlman Law, PLLC today.  We have helped and fought aggressively for victims of sexual harassment to obtain the justice they deserve and to hold their employers accountable for the harm they have caused.  Contact us immediately as there are statutes of limitation which limit your ability to bring or pursue claims.  Call us today for a free and confidential consultation at (612) 349-2747.

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