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Workplace Sexual Harassment FAQs

1. What Is the Definition of Sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment in the legal sense means you are enduring misconduct in the workplace that is (1) unwelcome; (2) based on your sex; and (3) is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with your job performance. If you can establish these elements, then your employer may be held legally responsible for the actions of the harasser. Sexual harassment may include requests for sexual favors, physical touching, or frequent comments about your appearance.

Curt Masker is a sexual harassment lawyer in Nashville, TN whose law practice is 100% employment litigation. If your job suffered after you experienced sexual harassment at work, immediately contact Curt at 866-931-0146 or online.


2. What Isn’t Sexual Harassment In the Legal Sense?

Simple teasing, offhand comments, and infrequent insults are always unacceptable, but alone they usually do not meet the legal definition of sexual harassment. Nevertheless, you should always document and report when this type of misconduct occurs because persistent “teasing” or insults may eventually become legally actionable.


3. What Are Examples of Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment often includes one or more of the following predatory behaviors:

  • Invading of personal space including persistent leering or staring
  • Frequent comments about your appearance/attractiveness
  • Sexually explicit text messages or e-mails
  • Sexual “jokes” or innuendos or “gag” gifts of a sexual nature
  • Displaying sexual materials
  • Solicitation of explicit pictures
  • Repeated requests for a romantic date
  • Asking about your sexual history
  • Sexual coercion such as threats or pressure for sexual favors
  • Criminal sexual conduct including physical assault and rape
  • Harassment based on your LGBTQ status

4. Am I Being Sexually Harassed at Work in the Legal Sense?

If you are being propositioned, objectified, and humiliated at work because of your sex, then you may be experiencing unlawful sexual harassment. Also, if your job suffered (fired, demoted, schedule changed, pay cut, etc.) because you rebuffed a supervisor’s sexual advances, then you may have a viable claim for sexual harassment under federal and state law.


5. What Should I Do If I Am Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

If you are currently enduring sexual harassment at work, you need to take immediate action to put your employer on notice of the misconduct by following these steps. Before doing so, it is a good idea to discuss your circumstances with an experienced employment attorney who can provide guidance on how to stop the harassment while protecting your job and legal rights.

  1. Send a respectful, written complaint. In the complaint, be helpful and professional, offer solutions to the problem, and do not threaten litigation. Sending the complaint via work e-mail is fine but include relevant dates and immediately print off a copy. You want to be calm and reasonable – remember, a jury might see the complaint.
  2. Be specific. Narrow down the key facts. Who, what, where, and when. Do not submit an excessively long complaint.
  3. Avoid legal conclusions. Do not say “this is illegal harassment.” You can say the same thing with more tact: “I feel like I’m being treated differently because of my sex….” The latter is not a legal conclusion and it is sufficient without being overly aggressive.
  4. Send your complaint to the right person. Follow the company’s reporting procedures or if the company does not have a reporting policy use your best judgment (usually human resources, or the owner in small companies). If the harasser is the owner and/or your boss and there is no one to send a complaint to, call a Nashville employment lawyer immediately to discuss your options.

6. I Was Fired After I Reported Sexual Harassment at Work, What Should I Do?

If you were fired after reporting sexual harassment at work, immediately contact Nashville-based sexual harassment lawyer Curt Masker at 866-931-0146 or online. For many harassment claims you may have as little as 300 days to file a complaint with the EEOC. Do not wait to fight back.


7. What Is the Average Settlement For a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?

The value of a sexual harassment lawsuit (settlement or jury verdict) varies significantly from case to case depending on several factors, including the severity of the harassment, how much money you have lost in wages and benefits, the type and quality of evidence, whether or not the harassment impacted your physical or mental health, and if the employer has a history of allowing sexual harassment in its workplace. To know how much your legal claims may be worth, contact a sexual harassment attorney serving Nashville for a Free Attorney Consultation.


8. Can Someone Go To Jail For Committing Sexual Assault at Work?

Absolutely. If you are sexually assaulted at work, you are well within your rights to immediately call the police or 911 and file criminal charges against the perpetrator. In addition, your employer may be held accountable in a civil lawsuit for fostering an unsafe work environment that lead up to the assault.


9. What Laws Relate Most Closely to Sexual Harassment?

In Tennessee, employees are protected against sexual harassment by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Tennessee Human Rights Act, both of which prohibit workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sex.


10. What Types of Claims Relate to Sexual Harassment at Work?

In Tennessee, the law recognizes two types of sexual harassment claims: (1) Quid Pro Quo and (2) Sex-based Hostile Work Environment. Quid Pro Quo occurs when your job becomes dependent on your acceptance of unwelcome sexual advances from a manager or other boss. For example, being denied a promotion for refusing a supervisor’s sexual advances is unlawful. A sex-based hostile work environment happens when you are subjected to unwelcome sexual advances, touching, or crude sexual language that is severe or pervasive enough to negatively impact your job performance.


11. What is the Statute of Limitations for Sexual Harassment Claims in Tennessee?

In Tennessee, you generally have 300 days from the date of the alleged harassment to pursue federal claims. Depending on how much time has passed since the harassment occurred, you may have very little time remaining before this deadline. If you miss this deadline, you will be barred from pursuing your claims in court.


12. How Do I Sue for Sexual Harassment?

The first step is to speak with an experienced employment litigator who files sexual harassment claims in court and with the EEOC. You need a lawyer who you trust and who can aggressively take the fight to your employer and the harasser. Contact Nashville-based sexual harassment attorney Curt Masker today at 866-931-0146 or online.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Curt worked diligently and maintained excellent communication with my case. He made sure to keep us updated about any and everything. I highly recommend the Masker Firm. Would give more stars if possible. Jeff
★★★★★
Curt really came through for me when a previous employer had reported my job title and hire dates incorrectly, he got it corrected within 12 hours of speaking to him about it! I would recommend him for any of your legal needs as he is quite efficient! Renee
★★★★★
Curt was very responsive from the beginning. He made it a very easy process, and he provided excellent guidance in the review of my severance agreement. Due, in part, to Curt's thoughtful suggestions in regards to changing some key language in the agreement that would protect both me and my former employer, they agreed to the changes. To protect yourself during job transition, a review of a severance agreement is a smart thing to do, and Curt will do an excellent job on your behalf. Thomas
★★★★★
Curt handled a case for me and did an unbelievable job in getting a resolution and a great settlement. I would highly recommend him to anyone. Teena