When the unthinkable happens and people find themselves subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace, it's not uncommon for them to experience a host of emotions ranging from anxiety and disgust to anger and even frustration.
Here, this frustration often stems from the feeling that they have are essentially without recourse, as reporting the matter to human resources might not produce any sort of remedy and could even result in some sort of retaliation.
It's imperative for people in these situations to understand that they are protected under Minnesota law.
Indeed, employers are legally required to implement viable solutions as soon as possible after they are aware that sexual harassment is occurring and expressly prohibited from taking any retaliatory measures whatsoever against those employees who report the illegal behavior.
Interestingly, in the wake of the recent scandal involving former University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague, at least one state lawmaker is now arguing that these existing protections for those who blow the whistle on sexual harassment need to be expanded.
State Senator Terri Bonoff (D-Minnetonka) indicated that she is currently working with legislative staff on a proposed bill that, in its final form, will offer additional safeguards to the victims of sexual harassment. Specifically, she said it will "allow them to come forward without having it hurt their career."
According to local legal experts, while existing state law is fairly comprehensive, there is indeed room for improvement on this issue.
One example given by experts is the removal of existing legal obstacles that otherwise make it easy for a plaintiff's case to be thrown out or an increase in funding to the Department of Human Rights, the state agency tasked with investigating claims of sexual harassment.
It will be interesting to see what form Bonoff's legislation ultimately takes. In the meantime, consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible if you believe that you have been victimized by sexual harassment.