Minnesota Supreme Court will review sexual harassment case
By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle
On Sept. 27, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted a petition for further review of a sexual harassment case involving a Lake County business owner and three female employees.
Jaime Rasmussen, Jennifer Moyer and Kathe Reinhold filed their case in Lake County District Court in 2011 against Two Harbors Fish Company, doing business as Lou’s Fish House; BWZ Enterprises LLC, doing business as B&R Motel; and the companies’ owner, Brian Zapolski of Two Harbors. The case was heard by District Court Judge Michael Cuzzo.
Cuzzo dismissed the case finding that Zopolski’s behavior, saying “even if totally true,” it did not “rise to the level of unwelcome sexual harassment actionable under the Minnesota Human Rights Act.”
The Minnesota Court of Appeals disagreed with Cuzzo’s decision, saying that “Zapolski’s behavior cannot be construed as anything other than severe.”
The panel said the district court found that Zapolski made frequent sexually inappropriate comments to Rasmussen, used vulgar language in her presence and asked her about her sex life. Moyer was subjected to constant sexually harassing conduct by Zapolski and he began making offensive, sexually explicit remarks to Reinhold on her first day in his employ, the Appeals Court said.
The appellate court returned the case to the district court which was to determine the amount of punitive and compensatory damages to be paid to the women.
Zapolski’s attorneys petitioned to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which on Sept. 18 granted their request for further review.