Minnesota Bill Would Make It Easier to Prove Sexual Harassment

April 27, 2018

Minnesota could become the first state to eliminate the U.S. Supreme Court's "severe or pervasive" legal standard for sexual harassment allegations under its state law.  Under federal law, employees alleging sexual harassment must prove the conduct was offensive enough or occurred frequently enough to create a hostile work environment.  Under the Minnesota bill working its way through the state legislature, finding "an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment … [would] not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive."  The bill, if it becomes law, would become effective on August 1, 2018, but would only apply prospectively.  Meanwhile, according to NAVEX Global, which operates hotlines for employers, the number of harassment and discrimination reports by employees increased by 11 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 as the #MeToo movement gained momentum.