Minnesota Settles Sexual Harassment Cases with Three Companies
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights office in St. Paul. Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Facebook

Minnesota Settles Sexual Harassment Cases with Three Companies

As part of a settlement with state’s department of human rights, the operator of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and two other businesses are required to adopt anti-harassment policies.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) on Tuesday announced that it has reached settlements with three businesses that failed to “provide a safe work environment free from sexual assault and harassment.” In a news release, department officials said that Mid-America Festivals Corp., Red Cabin Custard in Ely, and the Minnesota Sword Club in Minneapolis either “did not have or did not implement policies to help prevent sexual assault and harassment.” Mid-America Festivals operates the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in Shakopee.

According to the release, Red Cabin Custard and the Minnesota Sword Club did not have sexual harassment policies in place. “The only people to whom workers could have reported the repeated sexual advances were the owners themselves. And the owners were the harassers,” department officials said.

Although the Minnesota Renaissance Festival had a policy in place, the department of human rights found that it was ineffective and unenforced. The policy was not distributed to workers, and training was minimal, the department said. Like the other two businesses, the person primarily responsible for enforcing the policy was the harasser himself, according to the department. In 2017, a contract photographer accused the festival’s artistic director of rape.

The Star Tribune reported that the Renaissance Festival’s artistic director is no longer employed by the company. His attorney told the paper that the allegations against him are not true.

As part of the agreements, Mid-America Festivals Corp., Red Cabin Custard, and the Minnesota Sword Club must implement and enforce anti-harassment policies and ensure staff are trained on what constitutes sexual harassment and assault and how to address it.

In addition, staff must also have multiple ways to report harassment and/or assault.

“Every business has a legal obligation to ensure their workplace is free from sexual assault, harassment, and rape—plain and simple,” said MDHR commissioner Rebecca Lucero in the news release. “These settlement agreements require just that—structural change to ensure enforcement with strong policies toward safe and welcoming workplaces.”

To ensure compliance with the agreement and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, MDHR will monitor the three businesses. Agreements were finalized with the Minnesota Sword Club in March, the Mid-America Festivals Corporation in April, and Red Cabin Custard in May.

The settlement applies to all Mid-America Festivals Corp.’s operations in Minnesota, including the Trail of Terror in Shakopee.

The Minnesota Sword Club is now permanently closed, but the non-monetary settlement terms will apply if the previous owner returns to work.