Sexual harassment and employer liability

On Behalf of | Mar 24, 2016 | Sexual Harassment |

People in Minnesota go to work and expect to be treated fairly. However, this is not always the case. Many people face adverse conditions at work that can amount to an illegal hostile working environment. Sexual harassment, in particular, can be devastating to employees. In the right circumstances, sexual harassment can be degrading, humiliating and offensive.

Employers in these situation have a responsibility to prevent sexual harassment, or else they can be held liable under state or federal law. The liability of the employer often depends on who was committing the sexual harassment.

If the sexual harassment was committed by a coworker, an employer can be held liable if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment but did not take immediate corrective action to stop the sexual harassment from occurring. In other words, if the employer allows the sexual harassment to continue, the employer can be held liable for damages.

If the sexual harassment was committed by a superior, then an employer can be held liable in two situations. First, if the sexual harassment resulted in a hostile working environment, then the employer is liable for damages. Additionally, if the sexual harassment resulted in a tangible employment action, then the employer can be liable. A tangible employment action can include a demotion, negative changes in the work environment or a termination.

Employers may have defenses to sexual harassment charges. It is important that Minnesota residents understand when their employers may be held liable for sexual harassment. An attorney can help to explain the situation and advise what people need to do to exercise their legal rights. Employment laws should be taken seriously, and Minnesotans should exercise their right to compensation should they face sexual harassment at work.