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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Memphis?

— February 28, 2022

It’s not just you that had a problem with a certain behavior, but any reasonable person would have thought the same. 

Sexual harassment falls under sex-based discrimination, which is strictly prohibited in Memphis under the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA)  and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Whether it’s a public or private business, you have the right to a safe workplace, free from any form of discrimination. If you believe your rights are not respected, the best thing you can do is to look up the best Memphis sexual harassment lawyers and have them review your case.

How is sexual harassment defined in Memphis?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or any other verbal or visual communication of a sexual nature. In order to prove your claim, your Tennessee sexual harassment lawyers will have to show that your situation constitutes either a quid pro quo case or a hostile work environment case.

Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning ‘this for that’ and it aptly describes those situations when an employee is harassed by someone in a management position. To put it simply, in a quid pro quo case, the supervisor or manager asks for sexual favors in return for a promotion or other job perks. The same applies if you are asked to have sex with your manager or supervisor under threat of termination.

Hostile work environment refers to those situations where an employee is harassed by coworkers. The harassment can be physical, verbal or visual. 

For instance, physical harassment describes any unwelcome touching, from a pat on the back to kissing or groping.

Verbal harassment refers to sexual innuendos, lewd comments about your looks, sexual jokes, obscene comments or the use of derogatory terms. Even if your coworkers listen to music laden with derogatory terms and offensive language, it is still harassment.

Visual harassment may refer to displays of obscene materials around the office, but also to sexually-explicit gestures or noises. 

How do you prove sexual harassment in Tennessee?

When you talk to experienced sexual harassment lawyers, the first thing they’ll want to know is whether you’ve made it clear to your coworkers you find their conduct offensive. If you don’t, this will allow them to claim they had no idea you took offense at their behavior. 

Also, your lawyers will want to know how often did such incidents occur. The law does not punish isolated incidents. If someone makes a lewd joke, you cannot claim harassment if it was a one-time thing. Likewise, if someone fancies you and asks you out, it is not harassment unless you let them know you’re not interested, but they insist.

Tom Jones and Mrs Weston, by Thomas Uwins; courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust, via
Tom Jones and Mrs Weston, by Thomas Uwins; courtesy of Birmingham Museums Trust, via

Finally, in order to have a legal case of harassment, your lawyers need to be able to show that the incidents you complain about were subjectively and objectively offensive. It’s not just you that had a problem with a certain behavior, but any reasonable person would have thought the same.

As an example, if someone says you have nice eyes many people would not find that offensive. However, if someone makes thrusting moves accompanied by suggestive moans, such behavior would be offensive to any person. 

How do I report sexual harassment in Memphis?

First, it is recommended that you inform your employer about the harassment. They are required to investigate the complaint as soon as possible and take appropriate measures.

If they don’t, your lawyers will help you file a complaint with the Texas Human Rights Commission, within 180 days from the date of the last incident. If you file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission you have 300 days. 

In case you cannot reach an agreement with your employer, you have one year to file a lawsuit.

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