Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Memphis
Zealous Advocates for the Rights of Workers
Sexual harassment is a form of gender/sex discrimination. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, we at Donati Law, PLLC can take swift and decisive legal action on your behalf. We are zealous advocates for workers who have been mistreated or harassed in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can include a variety of conduct, such as:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Quid pro quo (offers of advancement or continued employment in exchange for sexual favors)
- Verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature.
Schedule an initial consultation online or call (901) 209-5500 now!
What is Sexual Harassment?
Harassment is continued and unwanted behavior that targets an individual or group. It can include a number of harmful behaviors, from suggestive comments to inappropriate touching. It also can include retaliatory actions taken against an employee that reports sexual harassment.
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Remarks or comments of a sexual nature, especially if they refer to a person’s appearance or genitalia.
- Inappropriately touching another person.
- Making requests for sexual activity or going on a date with another employee.
- Forwarding or spreading images that are sexually explicit or provocative.
- Disseminating literature that is sexually explicit or provocative, including personal stories, jokes, and other material.
What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like at Work?
As an employee, your employers, supervisors, and managers have a responsibility to watch for signs of sexual harassment and take steps to address it. They also are responsible for creating and enforcing policies that will prevent sexual harassment and provides a procedure for reporting and investigating claims, if necessary.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment may include:
- Submission to a sexual advance is a condition of being hired or keeping a job, whether stated explicitly or implied.
- A supervisor makes personnel decisions based on an employee’s submission to or rejection of sexual advances, whether their own or another person’s.
- Sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee's work performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or ineffective workplace. The victim of sexual harassment does not necessarily need to be the target of sexual conduct but can be a bystander.
While the EEOC provides a clear-cut definition, sexual harassment often doesn’t begin with blatant action. There are many smaller actions that can lead to sexual harassment. Supervisors should watch for these signs, but they can be easy to miss. If you are an employee who notices these behaviors, or who has been subjected to these behaviors, notify your manager. They may not be aware, but once their attention has been directed toward the behaviors, they may be able to prevent further harassment.
What Can I Do About Sexual Harassment at Work?
Typically, a victim of sexual harassment would file a complaint with their employer. They also may be able to file a claim against the harasser for assault or battery. The employer may also be held liable if the company or supervisors took retaliatory action against the person who reported the harassment, such as denying them a promotion they had earned or wrongfully terminating them.
What Are Remedies for Sexual Harassment?
If you decide to speak with an attorney about your matter and start a case, there is no need to show physical injuries. In fact, the most common injuries are emotional ones. If your lawsuit is successful, some of your remedies may include that your employer creates policies or initiates training to proactively stop sexual harassment in the workplace.
Other remedies for sexual harassment include:
- Damages for emotional distress
- Compensation for your attorney’s fees and court costs
- Back pay (multiplied by three) if you lost money or were denied a raise
- Reinstatement of your job, if you were wrongfully terminated
Have you experienced sexual harassment in the workplace? Speak to a Memphis sexual harassment attorney from Donati Law, PLLC to learn about your options. Call (901) 209-5500 when you are ready.
Understanding the Tennessee Human Rights Act
According to the Tennessee Human Rights Act, employment practices that discriminate on the basis of sex are considered unlawful. This type of discrimination also includes sexual harassment. This act covers private employers and public employers with eight or more employees.
The Tennessee Human Rights Act is interpreted similarly to federal law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Tennessee Human Rights Commission adopted the federal regulation which defines sexual harassment.
Under this adopted regulation, sexual harassment is any request for sexual favors, unwelcome sexual advances, and other physical or verbal conduct of this nature when:
- Rejection of or submission to sexual conduct is used as the basis for work-related decisions
- The sexual conduct has the effect or the purpose of unreasonably interfering with a person’s work performance or creating a hostile, offensive, or intimidating environment
- Submission to the sexual conduct is made a condition or term of employment
Borderline Sexual Harassment
Some behaviors border sexual harassment, but can still cause significant stress and discomfort to employees who are uncertain if the behaviors legally constitute sexual harassment. For employers and employees alike, this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. How far does a behavior need to continue before it is considered sexual harassment?
Often, nipping these borderline inappropriate actions in the bud can contribute to a safer workplace, and prevent sexual harassment claims from occurring. Here are some behaviors that may be considered inappropriate, though not strictly illegal:
- Holding conversations while standing too close to the victim, or ignoring their efforts to create space between themselves and the speaker.
- Jokes that are off-color, or even outright dirty.
- Requests to meet outside of work.
- Making frequent or repeated comments about one’s appearance, whether positive or not.
- Asking too many questions about one’s personal life, preferences, or other details.
While it should never fall to employees to handle sexual harassment, you may be able to discourage inappropriate conduct from crossing the line. If you suspect that your particular situation is legally defined as sexual harassment, don’t hesitate to make the report to your superior, or a higher-up in the company if needed. Similarly, don’t hesitate to report inappropriate behavior or seek legal advice before it becomes more of an issue.
Speak with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer in Memphis at Donati Law, PLLC. Contact us online or call (901) 209-5500 to make an appointment.
Things to Remember About Sexual Harassment
- The victim or harasser can be a man or a woman. The victim may be of the same sex as the harasser.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, but they may also be an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or even a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the subject of the harassment, just someone who is affected by the offensive conduct.
- Sexual harassment can occur without harming the victim’s income or employment.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
- Sexual harassment can include many actions, such as any sexual conduct or speech that interferes with an individual’s employment or work performance, or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment.
Being Harassed? Here's What You Need to Do.
To be considered illegal under the law, sexual harassment must be unwelcome, severe, or pervasive. An employee subjected to any of this conduct should tell the harasser to stop such behavior, and then report the harassment to her employer consistent with the policies contained in the company handbook. If the harassment is coming from a supervisor or owner of a company, the employee should still tell the harasser to stop and do his or her best to document the harassment and the employee's attempt to end the harassment. In addition, an employee should contact an attorney to make sure that all of his or her rights are protected.
Donati Law, PLLC: Delivering High-Quality Legal Representation
Importantly, speaking out against gender or pregnancy discrimination or sexual harassment is a legally protected activity. It is illegal for an employer to take any negative action against an employee based on this protected activity. If you need immediate legal assistance, our legal team of Memphis employment law attorneys will protect your rights and pursue justice on your behalf.
Give us a call at (901) 209-5500 as soon as possible to learn more about your options.