Tennessee and federal law generally prohibits companies from treating workers differently based on their sex or gender. Furthermore, the law generally prohibits companies from subjecting workers to any type of harassment that would create hostile working conditions. Therefore, if you are a victim of sexual harassment, you may have grounds for legal action against your employer.
Defining sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is any type of inappropriate behavior that centers around a person’s body. In addition, the behavior must be either pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile working environment. For example, if someone makes a joke about how you look in a particular pair of jeans, that may rise to the level of sexual harassment if you hear that joke on a regular basis. If someone said that they wanted to have sex with you with or without your consent, that could also rise to the level of sexual harassment because of the severity of the comment.
You could be indirectly victimized
You can be a victim of sexual harassment simply by overhearing a joke or reading inappropriate material on another employee’s phone or computer screen. You may also be a victim of harassment if a colleague makes comments to you about another person that you believe to be offensive.
Dealing with sexual harassment
In some cases, simply expressing your displeasure to your colleague may be enough to get the offensive behavior to stop. It may also be possible to talk to your supervisor or anyone else who you trust about your experience in an effort to deal with the problem internally. However, if that doesn’t work, you may want to consider filing a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If you are the victim of inappropriate workplace activity, you may have the right to sue your employer. In the event that your claim is verified, your employer may be liable for financial damages and other forms of relief such as changes to company policies to prevent future instances of sexual harassment.