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But it could be the most significant update to Minnesota’s sexual harassments laws in years — one that could impact employees and employers in every industry across the state.A proposal from House Republican Majority Leader Joyce Peppin would add a single new line to the Minnesota Human Rights Act’s definition of sexual harassment: “An intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment does not require the harassing conduct or communication to be severe or pervasive.”That language would nullify in the state a decades-old “severe or pervasive” legal standard used by judges to determine if any sexual harassment case could be actionable — or even heard — in court.She argued such harassment created a hostile working environment and a form of unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.It marked the first time a sexual harassment case made it all the way to the nation’s highest court, and ultimately, the justices ruled that sexual harassment was an illegal form of discrimination.Last December, a woman tried to sue her employer, non profit Homeward Bound Inc., after she said a coworker repeatedly called her “beautiful” and “sexy” and commented on her appearance.One day he told her he would “eat her” because he likes to “eat women.” She brought the issue to her boss but an investigation found her claims “inconclusive.” She ultimately resigned because she said her employer did not allow her the flexibility to work away from the male employee harassing her.But the ruling also established the “severe or pervasive” standard, which required the conduct to be so severe that it affected the conditions of the victim’s employment and created a hostile working environment.Over the years, a clear definition of that standard never really emerged, and federal judges — particularly in the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals — applied it so narrowly that it made it nearly impossible to even get a sexual harassment complaint to the courts, said Sheila Engelmeier, an employment attorney with more than 30 years experience.

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“Our courts need to revisit the issue of what facts constitute those ‘sufficiently severe or pervasive [acts],’” Dickstein said.“We have to have some faith that the courts are going to use judgement.” When it comes to theft, the crime is graded on several factors.How harmful, how many times it occurred and the history of the offender with other victims.If it is not welcome, this should be communicated and any flirtation stop.A lot of good marriages start in the office, and I don’t think we want to immediately jump to charging harassment. This is where the employee disciplinary process should start. If so, that should never not end in a police referral.

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