Sexual Harassment and #MeToo
Recently, the #MeToo movement has made clear the extent to which sexual harassment is a problem in our society and in workplaces across the country. In Tennessee, it is illegal to harass someone in the workplace due to his or her sex. Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, pranks, jokes, touching, and offensive remarks about someone’s sex even if those remarks are not sexual in nature. If you believe that you were harmed by harassment, you should consult Nashville sexual harassment lawyer Amanda Raye Thornton to find out if you should pursue a claim for damages.Bringing a Sexual Harassment Claim
Workplace sexual harassment is prohibited under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. Sexual harassment can be perpetrated by coworkers, supervisors, clients, customers, or managers. It may involve quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment. When, for example, your boss tells you that you can only keep your job if you have sex with him, this is quid pro quo harassment. If your coworker keeps sending you pornography and grabs your body at holiday parties, and you complain to HR, but your employer brushes it off, this is actionable hostile work environment harassment. Title VII applies to employers that have at least 15 employees. It is enforced and administered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This means that you will need to first file a charge with the EEOC before pursuing damages in federal court.
If a sexual harassment attorney in Nashville can help you establish an employer’s liability under Title VII, you can recover compensatory damages. These damages could include out-of-pocket expenses, mental anguish, inconvenience, and loss of enjoyment of life. Punitive damages may be awarded for a particularly malicious or reckless discriminatory act. Punitive damages are meant to deter and punish, rather than compensate. Damages are capped based on the size of the employer, with the cap being larger for larger employers. When an employer has 15-100 employees, the cap on damages is $50,000. When an employer has 101-200 employees, the cap on damages is $100,000. When an employer has 201-500 employees, the cap on damages is $200,000. For employers with more than 500 employees, the cap on damages is $300,000.Protections Under the Tennessee Human Rights Act
The Tennessee Human Rights Act, which covers employers that have at least eight employees, forbids employment practices that discriminate based on sex. Sexual harassment is one form of sex discrimination. This law is interpreted as Title VII is interpreted. Harassment can include verbal or physical actions that are sexual if your employment is conditioned on submitting to the harassing behavior. It can also occur when your failure to submit to the harassing conduct (or your submission to it) is used as a basis for employment decisions. It can also occur if the conduct unreasonably interferes, or has the purpose of unreasonably interfering, with your work performance or if it creates a hostile work environment for you.
You would not hold individual coworkers, supervisors, or managers liable for violations of the Tennessee Human Rights Act. Instead, your Nashville sexual harassment attorney would aim to hold your employer liable for the sexual harassment.
Furthermore, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for opposing sexual harassment, whether it is harassment of you or harassment of a coworker. You should not be subjected to retaliation for helping or being involved in an investigation or hearing about sexual harassment under the law.
Under state law, you need to file your complaint of sexual harassment within 180 days of being sexually harassed. You will need to provide answers to various questions. The complaint will be filed under your name, and it will be reviewed.Explore Your Options with a Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you were harmed by sexual harassment, you should consult Amanda Raye Thornton. She represents people throughout Tennessee, including in Davidson, Williamson, Lincoln, Marshall, Maury, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Warren, and Wilson Counties. Call us at (615) 485-1584 or (615) 470-2222, or contact us via our online form to discuss your situation with a sexual harassment lawyer in the Nashville area.