Maryville, TN asked in Civil Rights and Education Law for Tennessee

Q: A college professor put their hands within inches around my neck during class joking about choking me. Is this legal?

I was only asking the professor at the time if an outline was necessary since I knew I probably wouldn't finish if I had to write one. He then proceeded to inform me that I had to do it and that it was something I was supposed to have learned in comp. Mind you that I never said I could not write an outline to the professor. I then said that I might not finish in time if I do and he proceeds to tell me if I do this, I won't run out of time since it takes more time without an outline. Trying not to argue, I submit and agree to the absurd standards, to which he smirks and places his hands within inches of my throat, but still on my person in front of the students since I was in the front row before walking back to his desk for us to write. I acknowledge this teacher comes from a hispanic background, but my rights as a female student and a right to privacy should also come into play here, right?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Marjorie A Bristol
Marjorie A Bristol
  • Education Law Lawyer
  • Goodlettsville, TN
  • Licensed in Tennessee

A: It is legal if he did not harm you, but merely put his hands on you as long as those hands were not in an area that would be considered a sexual touching. That being said, it may not have been appropriate conduct for a professor. You should report the incident to the college authorities. Based on the facts you described, I am not sure what race, ethnicity or gender has to do with the situation, but if you felt uncomfortable, report it to someone you trust on campus.

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