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jlee@burrowlee.com

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10.0Jason Andrew Lee

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment is a very significant problem in Tennessee and women need to be protected from unlawful actions by their employers. Women should be treated with respect and no level of sexual harassment or a sexually hostile work environment is acceptable. Attorney Jason A. Lee is a Tennessee sexual harassment attorney who handles sexual harassment cases for the firm. He has had significant results in these cases and has made this a special focus in his practice.

It is very important to get legal representation from a sexual harassment lawyer as soon as this harassing conduct occurs. You need an attorney who will be aggressive and protect your legal rights when your employer is allowing a sexually harassing environment to occur. The law in this area is constantly changing and you need an attorney who stays on top of the legal issues relevant to sexual harassment. Tennessee courts often look to federal law for guidance on interpretation of Tennessee’s own discrimination statutes. That is why it is important for your attorney to keep up with the changing landscape in State and Federal law.

A sexual harassment “quid pro quo” claim in Tennessee is established using the following elements to support the cause of action:

(1) that the employee was a member of a protected class;

(2) that the employee was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment in the form of sexual advances or requests for sexual favors;

(3) that the harassment complained of was based on sex;

(4) that the employee’s submission to the unwelcome advances was an express or implied condition for receiving job benefits or that the employee’s refusal to submit to the supervisor’s demands resulted in a tangible job detriment; and

(5) the existence of respondeat superior liability.

Sanders v. Lanier, 968 S.W.2d 787, 789 (Tenn. 1998). This type of claim mainly focuses on unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. These situations are much more common than we would hope. Federal law has similar protections against this type of action in the workplace but usually the law is basically the same between the two jurisdictions.

Another type of claim under Tennessee law is a sexually hostile work environment claim. This claim is based on sexual harassment of an employee based on their particular sex. Almost always, this conduct is directed by men to women. Often, this could involve crude sexual jokes, sexual comments, inappropriate touching or grabbing and other similar conduct. Tennessee courts have provided the following as the elements required for this type of case in Tennessee:

To prevail on a hostile work environment claim in a sexual harassment case, an employee must assert and prove that:

(1) the employee is a member of a protected class;

(2) the employee was subjected to unwelcomed sexual harassment;

(3) the harassment occurred because of the employee’s gender;

(4) the harassment affected a “term, condition, or privilege” of employment; and

(5) the employer knew, or should have known of the harassment and failed to respond with prompt and appropriate corrective action.

Campbell v. Florida Steel Corp., 919 S.W.2d 26, 31 (Tenn. 1996). Generally, if a supervisor is the one who is acting, the employer will be automatically responsible for their actions (although the employer has some defenses available in certain circumstances). If co-workers are involved in creating the sexually hostile work environment, then liability of the employer is based on the knowledge of the employer and their reaction to the sexual harassment and steps they took to prevent the sexual harassment. Employers cannot simply stick their heads in the sand when there is rampant sexual harassment going on at their place of business.

If you have a sexually harassing situation or are working in a sexually hostile work environment, please contact attorney Jason A. Lee to discuss this matter.  His direct dial number is 615-540-1004.  It is important to stand up for yourself and the best way to do this is to get an attorney involved to assist you through the situation.