According to the Tennessee Human Rights Act, it is against the law for anyone to discriminate against another person in the workplace. The Act includes and makes provisions for sexual harassment and covers both private and public employers with eight or more workers. As a worker in Tennessee, you are also protected against sexual harassment at the federal level due to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So you do have many resources available to make the harassment stop; you just have to exercise your rights.
How do you know if you are being sexually harassed?
It is nearly impossible to be in a work environment and not be offended once in a while by things that someone might say. One gender-biased joke that offends you does not constitute sexual harassment. But if someone is systemically and pervasively threatening or intimidating you in the workplace, then that is legally sexual harassment. Continuous degrading and offensive behaviors that hinder your work performance or create a hostile environment that is affecting your ability to advance is sexual harassment.
Although there are many types of sexually harassing behaviors that someone can engage in, the most common ones are sexual innuendos, unwelcome sexual advances, inappropriate touching, derogatory remarks that are based on sex or gender, lewd acts or gestures, or sexually explicit images. If you can prove that it isn’t just you who is offended, but that the way someone is behaving in the office is enough to make any “reasonable” person in the same situation offended, then you might have a case to make it stop.
Sexual harassment can also come in the form of one single act. If someone with authority and power over your position at work has made a request for you to engage in sexual contact with them, and has clearly made you aware that failure to comply to their request will have a bearing on your position or status, then that is quid pro quo sexual harassment. Along the same lines, if someone is offering you something like a perk or an advancement if you do something sexually for them, that is also quid pro quo harassment.