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Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Revisor of Statutes

SF 1352

as introduced - 87th Legislature (2011 - 2012) Posted on 02/23/2012 10:00am

KEY: stricken = removed, old language.
underscored = added, new language.

Current Version - as introduced

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A bill for an act
relating to employment; prohibiting abusive work environment practices and
establishing remedies; proposing coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes,
chapter 181.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA:

Section 1.

new text begin [181.987] ABUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT.
new text end

new text begin Subdivision 1. new text end

new text begin Definitions. new text end

new text begin (a) The definitions in this subdivision apply to this
section.
new text end

new text begin (b) "Abusive conduct" means conduct, including acts or omissions, that a reasonable
person would find hostile, based on the severity, nature, and frequency of the conduct.
Abusive conduct may include repeated infliction of verbal abuse, such as the use of
derogatory remarks, insults, or epithets; verbal or physical conduct of a threatening,
intimidating, or humiliating nature; the sabotage or undermining of an employee's work
performance; or attempts to exploit an employee's known psychological or physical
vulnerability. A single act is not abusive conduct unless the act is severe and egregious.
new text end

new text begin (c) "Abusive work environment" means an environment in which an employer or
employee acts with malice to subject an employee to abusive conduct so severe that
it causes tangible harm to the employee.
new text end

new text begin (d) "Adverse employment action" includes a termination, constructive discharge,
demotion, unfavorable reassignment, failure to promote, disciplinary action, or reduction
in compensation.
new text end

new text begin (e) "Constructive discharge" means circumstances in which: (1) an employee
reasonably believes the employee was subjected to abusive conduct; (2) the employee
resigned because of that abusive conduct; and (3) before resigning, the employee brought
to the employer's attention the existence of the abusive conduct and the employer failed to
take reasonable steps to correct the situation.
new text end

new text begin (f) "Malice" means the intent to cause pain, injury, or distress to another.
new text end

new text begin (g) "Physical harm" means the material impairment of a person's physical health
or bodily integrity, as established by competent evidence.
new text end

new text begin (h) "Psychological harm" means the material impairment of a person's mental health,
as established by competent evidence.
new text end

new text begin (i) "Tangible harm" means physical harm or psychological harm.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 2. new text end

new text begin Prohibited employer conduct. new text end

new text begin An employer must not:
new text end

new text begin (1) subject an employee to an abusive work environment; or
new text end

new text begin (2) take an adverse employment action or otherwise retaliate against an employee
who opposes subjecting an employee to an abusive work environment or who makes a
charge, testifies, assists, or participates in an investigation or proceeding under this section,
including internal complaints and proceedings, arbitration and mediation, collective
bargaining, or civil actions.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 3. new text end

new text begin Prohibited employee conduct. new text end

new text begin An employee must not subject a
co-employee to an abusive work environment. It is an affirmative defense for an employee
to establish that the employee acted under the direction of the employer and under threat
of an adverse employment action.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 4. new text end

new text begin Employer vicarious liability. new text end

new text begin An employer is vicariously liable for a
violation of subdivision 3. If an alleged violation does not include an adverse employment
action, it is an affirmative defense for an employer to establish that:
new text end

new text begin (1) the employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct promptly any
actionable behavior; and
new text end

new text begin (2) the complainant employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of appropriate
preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 5. new text end

new text begin Affirmative defenses. new text end

new text begin It is an affirmative defense that:
new text end

new text begin (1) the complaint is based on an adverse employment action reasonably made for
poor performance, misconduct, or economic necessity;
new text end

new text begin (2) the complaint is based on a reasonable performance evaluation; or
new text end

new text begin (3) the complaint is based on a defendant's reasonable investigation about potentially
illegal or unethical activity.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 6. new text end

new text begin Remedies; procedures. new text end

new text begin (a) If a defendant is found to have violated this
section, a court may enjoin the defendant from engaging in a violation and may order any
other relief that is deemed appropriate, including reinstatement, removal of the offending
party from the complainant's work environment, back pay, front pay, medical expenses,
compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages, and attorney fees.
new text end

new text begin (b) If an employer is found to have violated this section and the violation did not
culminate in an adverse employment action, the employer's liability for damages for
emotional distress may not exceed $25,000, and the employer is not subject to punitive
damages. This paragraph does not apply to individually named employee defendants.
new text end

new text begin (c) This section may be enforced solely by a private action.
new text end

new text begin (d) An action under this section must be commenced no later than one year after the
last act that constitutes the alleged violation of this section.
new text end

new text begin Subd. 7. new text end

new text begin Remedies cumulative; effect on other laws. new text end

new text begin (a) Subject to paragraph (b),
the remedies available in this section are in addition to any remedies available under
other law and this section does not relieve any person from a liability, duty, penalty, or
punishment provided by any other law.
new text end

new text begin (b) If an employee receives compensation under chapter 176 for medical costs for
the same injury or illness for which compensation is paid under this section, or for wages
for the same period of time that the employee did not work as a result of a compensable
injury or illness resulting from a violation of this section, the payments under chapter 176
must be reimbursed from compensation paid to the employee under this section.
new text end