Skip to main content

In wake of high-profile cases, sexual harassment bill proposed to protect victims


With two high-profile sexual harassment cases being investigated at Minnesota universities, state legislators are looking at changing state law to offer victims more protections when making a report.

They're looking at the issue after the resignations of University of Minnesota Athletic Director Norwood Teague and Winona State University's men's basketball coach Mike Leaf, both of whom are being investigated for sexual harassment.

Teague resigned after two female employees claimed he sexually harassed them, and at least four more additional complaints have now been filed.

Leaf resigned after reportedly making unwanted sexual advances toward one of his players.

University officials are investigating both cases. But State Sen. Terri Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, tells WCCO she thinks employees who report sexual harassment need more protections.

Bonoff told the Pioneer Press she has spoken to whistle blowers who reported harassment and lost their jobs, despite the fact they're supposed to be protected against retaliation.

Bonoff said it's still early in the process of crafting the bill, but her goal "the kind of whistleblower protections that allow [victims] to come forward without having it hurt their career." The measure would go beyond just protecting employees in public universities, she told the Pioneer Press.

Bonoff talked with WCCO's Esme Murphy Sunday.

This embed is invalid

Filing reports

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights investigates sexual harassment and discrimination charges. It defines sexual harassment as:

"[W]hen someone makes unwelcome sexual advances towards you. And these advances happen often enough to create a hostile environment for you at your job, in school or other protected area where the harassment is happening."

The Department of Human Rights offers resources for employers as well as employees.

Minneapolis attorney Lori Peterson tells the Pioneer Press increased funding for the department would be helpful.

The newspaper reports at the end of June, the department has 390 active cases, and the average determination takes 266 days.

The Star Tribune debunks some myths on workplace sexual harassment, noting, "Sexual harassment in the workplace is an actionable legal offense. Period."

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.