Many Minnesotans may know of the conglomerate Ernst & Young, which is identified as one of the "Big Four" accounting firms in the nation. However, the company is coming under scrutiny for its mandatory arbitration policy. The issue came to the forefront after a female employee of the accounting giant came forward with a sexual harassment claim.
Sexual harassment was a concern in every workplace in Minnesota and across the nation. The social media attention paid to "me too" with the hashtag to emphasize it has had an impact on how women are treated in terms of reducing sexual harassment. Because these behaviors can be so damaging to a person's job and career and there is often fear of coming forward, any tactics to reduce its frequency are welcome. However, although research indicates there has been an improvement, there have been side effects to the increased scrutiny on sexual harassment. When there has been any level of mistreatment at work, sexual harassment or otherwise, having legal advice is key to decide how to proceed.
Not all work places in Minnesota offer a work environment free from harassment. Despite warnings and training against sexual harassment, situations of this nature still occur in both private and public workplaces. Sometimes, the alleged perpetrator of the harassment is a person who uses their position of power to commit such acts. However, sexual harassment is against the law.
Minnesota residents may experience a range of barriers getting into the careers of their dreams. They may struggle to attain the education and experience that they need to get the jobs that they want, or they may find that there simply are not many openings in their chosen fields. Once a worker is in a position that they desire, they can face problems with regard to staying in their job.
A Minneapolis resident may go to the store with the expectation that they will have to pay for whatever goods they choose to purchase. Additionally, if they choose to enter into a contract with another party they may rightly expect that they will have to perform some form of work in order to be benefitted by the other party to the agreement. In life it is pretty common that a person will not get something for nothing, but there is one context where prepositioning actions based on others' acquiescence may be prohibited under the law.
When an employee has to choose between paying rent and being able to purchase food, and being sexually harassed and stalked in the workplace, there is a definite problem that employers need to address. Sexual harassment, hostile work environments and retaliatory behavior has been highlighted many times across the country in the wake of the #MeToo movement and Minnesota is also taking steps to address pervasive unacceptable behavior in the workplace.
Regardless of one's race, gender, religious belief or age, Minneapolis residents deserve to work in a space that is free from discrimination and one where they feel safe and respected. Providing those workplaces is an employer's responsibility, but an employer could be far-removed from the workplace. This is where managers and supervisors come into play -- they keep up with what is happening in the office and are often the ones violated employees go to in order to report a problem. When a supervisor or manager neglects to address the problem and lets discrimination continue, they may be in violation of federal laws.
Returning to work after having a baby is an emotionally difficult time for mothers -- leaving one's child behind is tough enough. But, then having to work out the logistics of nursing and pumping just adds to the complications. And, breastfeeding women have some protections at work through federal laws that require time throughout the day to pump and a space to do so, which does not include a bathroom. Even these simple accommodations make it easier for breastfeeding women to return to work.
There are a number of misconceptions about sexual harassment in the workplace that may confuse Minnesota residents who believe they are being harassed or discriminated against on the basis of their sex. This may prevent someone from calling attention to unwanted behavior that makes them uncomfortable in their office space. Therefore, understanding what sexual harassment is and what the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looks at while investigating allegations can be helpful to all employees in their individual workplaces.
While employees in Minnesota may be aware that they are protected from retaliation from their employers if they assert their right to work in an atmosphere free from discrimination. But, what is included in a protected activity: an activity that it is illegal for someone to retaliate against an employee for? And what can be considered retaliation?