The Georgia sexual harassment lawyers at SMITH LAW have successfully represented numerous individuals who have been sexually harassed at the workplace by co-workers, supervisors or presidents/owners. There are two types of sexual harassment: (1) hostile work environment sexual harassment; and (2) tangible employment action sexual harassment.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment
Isolated comments or jokes of a sexual nature do not create a hostile work environment because the sexual harassment must be severe or pervasive in order to constitute a hostile work environment. Generally, non-stop sexual comments, jokes and innuendos, and repeated unwelcome sexual advances create a hostile work environment. A one-time intentional touching of an intimate part of the body may be sufficiently severe to create a hostile work environment.
Tangible employment action sexual harassment
Tangible employment action sexual harassment arises where a supervisor, manager or president/owner sexually harasses a subordinate. When the subordinate rejects the unwelcome sexual advances, the supervisor, manager or president/owner uses their position to take an adverse employment action against the subordinate (e.g., demotion or termination).
Typically, a claim for tangible employment action sexual harassment is easier to win because the employer is strictly liable for the actions of the supervisor, manager or president/owner. By contrast, an employer may be able to avoid liability for hostile work environment sexual harassment if the employer has a policy and complaint procedure to prevent/stop sexual harassment and the victim fails to report the sexual harassment in keeping with the complaint procedure.
Whatever the type of sexual harassment, an employee should report the sexual harassment to management immediately or file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”). If your employer fails to take prompt corrective action to stop the sexual harassment, you may be able to assert additional claims against your employer. Moreover, if your employer takes an adverse employment action against you for reporting the sexual harassment (e.g., you are demoted and/or terminated shortly after you complain) then you may be able to assert a retaliation claim against your employer.
Please note that if you believe you have been sexually harassed and/or retaliated against, it is important to take prompt legal action in order to preserve your claims against your employer. You must file a charge of discrimination and/or retaliation with the EEOC within 180 days of the last discriminatory act or adverse employment action. If you fail to do so, you may be precluded from pursuing your claims.
An employee who prevails on a claim for sexual harassment and/or retaliation may recover compensatory damages, which include out-of-pocket expenses (e.g., back pay and benefits that the employee would have received if he or she had not been terminated, medical expenses, etc.), and emotional distress damages (i.e., mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.).
Sexual harassment claims are very fact-specific. Accordingly, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. Witnesses and contemporaneous documents concerning the sexual harassment (e.g., diary entries, emails, faxes, letters, notes, medical records, etc.) are necessary to avoid a “he-said/she-said” situation.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, the Georgia sexual harassment attorneys at SMITH LAW can help you. Our investigation team goes the extra mile in order to get you the best result possible.