Frieler v. Carlson Mktg. Group, Inc.

Here, the appellant, Judy Frieler, sued the respondent for violating § 363A.03(43) and § 363A.08(2) of the Minnesota Human Rights Act (MHRA), “based on a hostile working environment due to sexual harassment by a supervisor.” Ms. Frieler worked part-time and was interested in a full-time position in the shipping department. She expressed her interest and was referred to Ed Janiak, the supervisor of that department. Ms. Frieler alleged that Janiak had verbally abused her and on three to four occasions lured her into a locked room, pressed himself against her and made sexual advances towards her. Ms. Frieler reported the incident to her employer (respondent) but before a full investigation could take place, Janiak resigned from his position. Janiak was made aware of the allegations just a few days before his resignation, and he denied them. Ms. Frieler subsequently sued her employer under § 363A.03(43) and § 363A.08(2). The trial court and court of appeals dismissed her sexual harassment claims for failing to raise an issue of material fact as to whether the employer knew about the harassment and whether Janiak was Ms. Frieler’s supervisor for vicarious liability purposes. The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed and remanded the court of appeals’ ruling. The court held that: 1) a plaintiff does not need to prove that his or her employer knew about the harassment in order to maintain a claim under the MHRA; 2) employers are not strictly liable for sexual harassment claims; 3) “an employer is subject to vicarious liability for an actionable hostile environment created by a supervisor with immediate authority over a victimized employee;” and 4) in this case, there was a material issue of fact whether Janiak was Ms. Friedler’s supervisor at the time of the harassment.

Year 

2008

Avon Center work product 

ID 

533