Workplace Free from Sexual Harassment
Every employee has a right to work in a workplace free of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, harassment related issues are prevalent in companies across the country as well including those in Tennessee. Although sexual harassment may be the most well known form of employment discrimination, it can sometimes be confusing for employees to understand, whether they have been the target of sexual harassment, or joking & simple raunchy inappropriate low class behavior.
What constitutes Sexual Harassment in Tennessee ?
Although experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can be confusing for a worker, defining sexual harassment in the workplace can be confusing. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submitting to the above form of conduct is a required condition of employment, or advancement. Quid Pro Quo
- Exposure to conduct is that is used as the basis for employment decisions,i.e. raises, scheduling.etc.
- The workplace conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s performance, or it creates an intimidating work environment, hostile work environment.
The Tennessee Human Rights act ….. (THRA) prohibits discriminatory practices. Under the law sexual harassment is considered a discriminatory practice based on the individual’s sex. The THRA provides that it is a discriminatory practice for an employer to “fail or refuse to hire or discharge any person or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of such individual’s race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.”
The Tennessee Human Rights Commission has adopted the federal regulation defining sexual harassment. Under the adopted rule, sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Sexual threats, coercion, or pressure from co-workers
- Sexually-oriented or sexually-suggestive nicknames by co-workers
- Implying that sexual favors must be given to keep your job, receive higher pay, benefits etc.
- Sexual advances, off color jokes, or rude unacceptable behavior.
- Unwanted physical contact of any kind including brushing, squeezing, tickling, etc.
- Showing sexually suggestive pictures, materials, inappropriate social media posts, etc.
- Using stereotypes or assumptions to guide decision-making about a person’s career;
- Unwelcome touching or near-touching, which can encompass leaning over, cornering, hugging, or pinching, sexual innuendos, teasing and other sexual talk such as jokes, personal inquiries, persistent unwanted courting and sexist put-downs;
- Slurs and jokes about a class of persons, such as disabled persons or a racial group;
- Distributing via electronic means epithets, slurs, jokes or remarks that are derogatory, demeaning, threatening or suggestive to a class of persons or a particular person or that promote stereotypes of a class of persons;
- Display of explicit or offensive calendars, posters, pictures, drawings or cartoons that are sexually suggestive or that reflect disparagingly upon a class of persons or a particular person; or
- Derogatory remarks about a person’s national origin, race, language, or accent. B. Hostile Work Environment Hostile work environment harassment occurs when a victim is subjected to severe or pervasive comments or conduct based on race, color, national origin, age (40 and over), sex, pregnancy, religion, creed, disability, veteran’s status or any other category protected by state and/or federal civil rights laws; resulting in a work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile.
- A hostile work environment may also be created by innuendos, touching, electronic communications or other conduct. C. Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment involves any unwelcome sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or verbal, written, electronic, or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a manager, supervisor, coworker, or non-employee (third party). Managerial harassment occurs when a manager or a supervisor gives or withholds a work-related benefit in exchange for sexual favors from the victim or takes an adverse action against an employee for refusing a request for sexual favors. In some circumstances, threatening to take such actions may also be a violation of this policy.