Lawmakers look at sexual harassment in Tennessee music industry

Two state legislators have put forward a bill that would extend protection from sexual harassment to independent contractors. Scandals emerging from the state's music industry prompted them to take action to help members of the workplace who fall through loopholes in employment law because they are contractors instead of employees. Current law only allows contract laborers to file complaints about sexual harassment if their contract specifically addresses the topic. Without legal protection, a contractor could risk a career to come forward with an allegation against an employer.

Although the proposed legislation applies to many types of contract employees, the bill carefully worded the definition of contract workers to encompass songwriters, dancers, musicians, singers and technical workers. The state's music industry employees many contractors in these positions, and a flurry of recent allegations against influential individuals in the music industry exposed the extent of harassment experienced by these workers.

At the end of 2017, multiple men and woman accused a prominent Nashville publicist of operating a hostile workplace where verbal and physical harassment occurred regularly. One country singer accused the publicist of drugging him and assaulting him. If the bill becomes law, its provisions would expand the legal definition of employers and employees and reduce the number of situations unprotected by employment law.

A person seeking support with a sexual harassment problem could ask an attorney for advice and representation. An attorney may evaluate evidence about unwanted sexual advances, sexually explicit materials in the workplace or sex discrimination and inform the person about how to pursue a complaint. An attorney might communicate the grievance to the employer and ask for a settlement. When necessary, this effort might include filing a lawsuit that pursues compensation for lost wages and other financial damages to a career.

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