Are There Sexual Harassment Protections for Freelancers? By Dan Atkerson on November 14, 2016

Gender DiscriminationIf you are a traditional employee at a company, the law provides sexual harassment protections to help you assert your right to a fair and safe workplace. Unfortunately, things are often more complicated for independent contractors and freelance professionals. Unlike traditional employees, contractors and freelancers might not have a human resources department to turn to when another employee behaves inappropriately.

The reason for these weaker legal protections is because title VII of the Civil Rights Act specifically protects employees against discrimination based on sex. Contractors lose these protections because they lack official employee status.

Despite weaker protections, these workers still face many of the difficulties that traditional employees do. There are no official sexual harassment numbers for freelance professionals, but there are many horror stories from freelancers who have endured this treatment firsthand. Many people believe that federal and state laws should do more to protect freelancers and contractors from this kind of bad behavior.

Worker Misclassification Can Be One Path to Justice

Sometimes courts recognize the issues involved here, and will rule that contractors are operating as de-facto employees. If the court makes this decision, the so-called contractor will receive the benefits of an employee, including gaining an easier path to sue for sexual harassment. There have been several recent prominent worker misclassifications cases against companies such as Uber, as we have seen the rise of the gig economy.

While there are still certainly gaps in protections for freelancers, a skilled employment attorney can still help victims navigate the existing laws to find a pathway forward, whether it’s by worker misclassification or other means.

Dan A. Atkerson is a Dallas employment lawyer who fights passionately on behalf of victims of sexual harassment, racial discrimination and other forms of workplace injustice. 

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Dan Atkerson

Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

Dan A. Atkerson has been protecting the rights of North Texas employees for over nearly four decades. He is affiliated with several prestigious legal organizations, including: 

  • The State Bar of Texas
  • The Dallas Bar Association
  • The United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit
  • Texas Supreme Court and all Texas trial and appellate courts
  • Texas federal courts for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Texas

Through aggressive, knowledgeable representation, he has helped clients all over the state reach significant verdicts and settlements. To schedule a consultation at our law firm, request an appointment online or call us at (214) 383-3606.

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