Historically, the laws surrounding sexual harassment have not been strict enough. This is obvious due to the fact that more sexual harassment civil claims than ever have been brought over this past year than ever before. It is clear that the legal protection for potential harassment victims is inadequate.
However, it looks this situation is about to start changing. Although it is not going to be an immediate or complete sea-change, it is important to celebrate every victory in this regard.
New Proposal for Broader Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment
According to minnpost.com, a new legislative proposal suggests a change in the definition of sexual harassment. The proposal includes an additional sentence to the definition that reads: “An intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment does not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive.”
If this law passes, it would mean that the courts hearing these cases would no longer be able to demand that an instance of sexual harassment was extreme. This makes it much easier for victims to press charges and obtain justice in criminal court.
It also means that, once the criminal prosecutions stick, it is easier in civil court to establish sexual harassment and obtain compensation.
The problem, of course, is that the case is in Minnesota, so it won’t immediately and directly impact the other jurisdictions. However, this law could signify the beginning of an important change. It is highly likely that a law like this, if it should pass, would influence the other states and ultimately lead to wider-sweeping changes.
We will keep our eye on these developments and keep you up to date on some of the important changes in the laws regulating sexual harassment in the workplace.