What Are My Rights in a Sexual Harassment Claim?


No matter how big or small your company is, it is possible for sexual harassment issues to arise. If you have been the victim of this harassment, it’s easy to feel powerless to fight back. You do have rights, however, and it is of the utmost importance that your rights are respected by your employer.

Sexual harassment has recently come into the greater public consciousness and we are at a critical point as a society. Slowly, victims of sexual misconduct are coming forward and pushing for greater awareness of the issue and for measures to be taken to prevent sexual harassment in the future. While many of these news stories cover claims against celebrities, politicians, and others in the public eye, it doesn’t mean that sexual harassment claims can’t occur in every work environment. No matter where you work or who you work for, your sexual harassment claim should be taken seriously.

Sexual Harassment Facts

  • Sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination. It is in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • According to the Tennessee Human Right Commission, sexual harassment is defined as any request for sexual harassment, but there are many forms of behavior that can be counted as sexual harassment.
  • Sexual harassment doesn’t have to involve physical contact. Explicit emails, inappropriate jokes or comments, and inappropriate text messages can all constitute sexual harassment.
  • No matter how innocent it may seem, unwanted touching is a form of sexual harassment.
  • Your terms of employment, job duties, or other aspects of your career are never contingent on your acceptance or rejection of sexual advances. If you are pressured to participate in sexual conduct to protect your position, gain a promotion you deserve, or be hired, this can be the basis of a sexual harassment claim.
  • Sexual harassment can affect both men and women, though women tend to be predominantly affected by sexual harassment.
  • You do not have to be the target of the offensive conduct to be affected by it. It is possible to file a sexual harassment claim even if you are not the intended victim.

Your Rights as a Victim of Sexual Harassment

As an employee, you have the right to be protected from sexual harassment. What this means is your employer is obligated to create and enforce policies against sexual harassment, respond to your claims of sexual harassment appropriately, and may not retaliate against you for making your claim. Sexual harassment is in violation of federal law.

If you have been sexually harassed, you have the right to file a complaint with your employer, using the appropriate grievance system. This will allow your company to take appropriate action to stop the harassing behavior, and may even end the problem. Ensure your complaint is filed as a written record, in case you need to take further action.

If your employer does not respond to your complaint or does not take appropriate steps to end the harassing behavior, you have the right to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Tennessee is a referral jurisdiction state, which means that you will have 300 days from the date of the unlawful conduct. The EEOC will determine if you have a legitimate case, and issue a right-to-sue letter, which will allow you to file a lawsuit.

You have the right to file a lawsuit against your employer, if the EEOC has determined that adequate steps were not taken to address your complaint. It is critical to speak with an experienced employment law attorney about your claim, especially if you suspect that your gender is the motivation for the actions. Your lawyer can advise you throughout your case and can help you fight to ensure your rights are protected fully.

If you have filed a sexual harassment claim, you also have the right to be safe from retaliation. It is illegal for your employer to take negative actions against you for filing a complaint with the company or with the EEOC, participating in a company or EEOC investigation, or otherwise supporting a sexual harassment claim. Negative actions may include:

  • Denial of a promotion
  • Demotion
  • Termination
  • A change in the duties or scope of your position
  • Transferring you or refusing a transfer request

Speak with a Memphis Employment Law Attorney Today – (901) 209-5500

Being the victim of sexual harassment can be a scary, stressful ordeal. At Donati Law, PLLC, we are committed to fighting for your rights and ensuring that you and your career are protected from repercussions. Our Memphis employment lawyers are backed by more than 100 years of collective experience, so we have the knowledge and skill to address even the most complex cases. Don’t hesitate to get the help you need.

Contact our team to schedule a consultation by calling (901) 209-5500.

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