There have been a lot of stories in the news lately about sexual harassment in the workplace.  Very rich, very powerful men have been exposed (no pun intended) for their behavior – Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, and Harvey Weinstein just to name a few.  But most of us know that sexual harassment is not committed by only the Hollywood elites or media moguls.  Theirs are the stories that make headlines, but sexual harassment happens in workplaces throughout Knoxville and East Tennessee.  But what is sexual harassment, really?  I mean, what does the law say it is?   The answer may surprise you.

First, sexual harassment is discrimination.

It is a form of gender discrimination, which Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes illegal.  Though this concept seems simple on its face, it becomes more complicated when addressing matters of male-on-male sexual harassment or female-on-female sexual harassment.  One reason for this complexity is because the harasser is in the same legal class as the victim (i.e. both male or both female), which can cause problems for employment lawyers who handle sexual harassment claims.

But even more problematic is that not all sexual harassment is illegal!

Its legality is measured against other factors such as whether the harasser is a supervisor or coworker, whether the harassment is connected to the victim’s employment (i.e. sexual favors in exchange for promotion, for example), the severity of the harassment, and its prevalence.  Imagine a horizontal line.  On the far left side is a coworker’s single, subtle comment that someone could interpret as having sexual overtones; on the far right side is a manager’s explicit threat to terminate the woman unless she accepts his sexual advances.  The closer the behavior gets to the right side of this line, and/or the more prevalent the sexually inappropriate behavior is, the more likely a court will consider it illegal gender discrimination.

So how is a person to know whether they’ve experienced sexual harassment – or more precisely, illegal sexual harassment?

Call an employment lawyer experienced in handling sexual harassment cases.  The employment lawyers at the Nelson Law Group will help you understand the law and will counsel you through it.  If you or a family member have been a victim of sexual harassment, call the employment lawyers at Nelson Law Group right away.