Atlanta Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment may be the most common form of sex discrimination in the workplace. Unfortunately, it often goes unchecked because victims are afraid to report it for fear they will be fired if they do. If you find yourself in the difficult position of being sexually harassed on the job, experienced Atlanta employment discrimination attorneys at Hall & Lampros, LLP are standing by to help and provide you with a free, confidential consultation.
Federal law offers victims of sexual harassment the most protections and remedies. Georgia law does very little protect employees against sexual harassment in the workplace. While the State recognizes that sexual harassment is wrong, it does not have laws on the books that specifically address sexual harassment. However, employment discrimination attorneys at Hall & Lampros are experienced in using all the available legal tools to get victims the justice and compensation they deserve.
Hall & Lampros attorneys have recovered millions for sexual harassment victims. One example is the $1 million dollar settlement in Brantley et al. v. City of Jesup, Ga., a federal case based on allegations of sexual harassment against the Chief of Police in Jesup, Georgia. While every case is different and the results in your case may differ, Hall & Lampros are Atlanta sexual harassment attorneys know how to evaluate your case, advise you appropriately, and represent you effectively to maximize your recovery.
Federal Law Prohibiting Sexually Hostile Work Environments
Sexual harassment is also a federal civil rights violation. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment that creates a sexually hostile work environment, and employers who violate this law may be liable for large damages awards. In order to bring a successful sexual harassment claim under Title VII, you will need to prove the following elements:
- You were subjected to unwanted or unwelcome harassment;
- The harassment was based on your sex;
- The harassment was sufficiently serious to create a hostile work environment;
- There is a legal basis for holding the employer liable for the sexual harassment.
The Conduct Was Unwelcome
You will need to show that you did not welcome the conduct you identify as being sexual harassment, which means that it was not solicited, invited, or encouraged. One of the most important steps you can take to stop sexual harassment and be able to pursue a claim later is reporting the harassment to your employer. Having a complaint on file sends a strong message that the sexual harassment in question was not welcome, and prevents the employer from later claiming that it did not know you were being harassed.
The Conduct Was Based on Your Sex
You will need to show that the conduct you identify as sexual harassment would not have occurred if you had not been the sex that you are. If, for example, you are a woman, and a heterosexual man asks you for sexual favors at work, talks about your body in a sexual way, or touches you inappropriately, this demonstrates that the harassment is based on your sex.
The Conduct Was Sufficiently Serious
The conduct that you identify as sexual harassment must be sufficiently serious, or “severe or pervasive,” to effectively change the terms of your employment. Several factors are relevant to this determination, including:
- The frequency of the harassment;
- The severity of the harassment;
- Whether the harassment was humiliating, physically threatening, or both; and
- Whether the harassment unreasonably interfered with your ability to do your job.
While physically grabbing someone in a sexual manner is a clear example of sexual harassment, repeatedly making comments that are sexually suggestive, full of innuendo, or otherwise offensive can also create a sexually hostile work environment. Other acts of sexual harassment might include sending sexual text messages or email or displaying sexual images or video to an employee, making inappropriate sexual jokes, or inviting an employee to engage in sex acts or go on dates or spend time alone.
There Is a Basis for Your Employer’s Liability
Being sexually harassed on the job is not enough to prevail on a sexual harassment claim under Title VII. You must be able to demonstrate that your employer bears some legal responsibility, such as vicarious liability, in the matter. For example, if the person harassing you was another employee and you did not report the harassment, the employer could avoid liability. But if you reported the harassment and the employer failed to take appropriate corrective action, it would be liable for the harassment.
Additionally, if the person harassing you was a supervisor and the harassment led to a significant change you in status at work, the employer will be liable. Such changes can include losing a promotion or benefits, being demoted, or being fired.
Sexual harassment on the job can have serious financial consequences – in addition to being emotionally scarring – and you can seek compensation for both.
Using the State Law in Georgia to Fight Sexual Harassment
Even though Georgia law does not specifically protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, there are tools that Hall & Lampros attorneys can use to fight for you.
For example, assault and battery are torts, or civil wrongs, under Georgia law, and many instances of sexual harassment constitute assault and battery. Assault is when a person intentionally causes another person to reasonably expect immediate unlawful physical contact. Battery is when that unlawful physical contact actually happens—when a person intentionally and without the consent that other person subjects them to an offensive touching.
Sexual harassment in the workplace may also amount to intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is when someone engages in conduct that is “extreme and outrageous” and “beyond the bounds of acceptable conduct in a civilized society,” and the person intended to cause or should have expected to cause severe emotional distress to the victim, and severe emotional distress actually occurred as a result. Georgia courts have recognized that a pattern of unwanted sexual conduct in the workplace can meet this standard because employment involves a special relationship in which one person has control over another, and so this kind of conduct can become outrageous in the workplace.
A person who commits assault and battery may be liable to the victim, but it can be more difficult to hold an employer liable when the harasser is the victim’s co-worker. In these situations, there must be a legal basis of liability for the employer. The employer may be liable for the sexual harassment committed by one employee against another if it ratified the sexual harassment, or if it negligently hired, retained, or supervised an employee who it knew or reasonably should have known had a propensity to engage in that kind of misconduct. Hall & Lampros employment discrimination attorneys know this law and can help you navigate it to hold your employer accountable for exposing you to sexual harassment.
The damages you can recover as a victim of sexual harassment include compensatory damages, including damages for pain and suffering and emotional distress. In cases of intentional torts, you may also be able to recover punitive damages, which are damages intended to punish, penalize, or prevent the conduct from happening again. Punitive damages may be awarded in cases in which it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant’s actions showed willful misconduct, malice, fraud, wantonness, oppression, or that entire want of care which would raise the presumption of conscious indifference to consequences. The employment discrimination and injury attorneys at Hall & Lampros have successfully presented these kinds of cases to juries, and can help you win at trial.
Turn to an Experienced Atlanta Sexual Harassment for the Legal Guidance You Seek
If you have been sexually harassed on the job, the compassionate Atlanta employment law attorneys at Hall & Lampros, LLP, understand the serious nature of your claim and are well equipped to skillfully advocate for your legal rights – in pursuit of your rightful compensation. For more information about how we can help, please contact or call us at 404-876-8100 today.