In Minnesota, employees are protected against discrimination that is based on their marital status, sexual orientation and sex under the Minnesota Human Rights Act. The Act also protects workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature, unwanted sexual advances or asking for sexual favors in exchange for positive decisions in a person’s employment.
A former Google employee recently filed a lawsuit against the company for retaliating against him after he complained of sexual harassment. The man worked as a massage therapist in Google’s New York office. He said that during one massage session, a male engineer subjected him to unwelcome sexual advances and even masturbated during the session. When he complained to his bosses, he was fired from his job.
The former employee also alleges that in addition to his sexual harassment complaint, his termination was based in part on the fact that he took some time off work to take care of his ailing mother, something that is protected by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act.
The man says that he is protected by the New York City Human Rights Law because he is gay. He feels that he was discriminated against because he was a male complaining of sexual harassment. He maintains that if he was a female, his complaint would have been handled differently.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you would be well advised to consult with an attorney experienced in employment law.
Source: New York Daily News, “Google sued by former in-house massage therapist for alleged sexual harassment,” Deborah Hastings, May 29, 2014