Sexual harassment is barred by Title VII, a federal law that prohibits several forms of discrimination or harassment and it protects individuals from being subjected to such offenses. Discrimination can be of race, nationality, color, disability, age and sexuality, and Title VII applies to both private and public employers with 15 or more employees. This includes local, state and federal governments, labor organizations and employment agencies. See the EEOC website for more
Sexual harassment is classified into two basic forms: hostile work environment and quid pro quo. See the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) website for additional information on these forms of harassment and other details. link broken
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Hostile work environment is a form sexual harassment based on sex and it subjects an employee to explicit or implicit conduct of a sexual nature. It can be verbal or physical and it unreasonably interferes with an individual’s employment and work performance by creating a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. Examples of a hostile work environment are unwelcomed sexual advances, posting pictures with sexual content, and allowing/tolerating behaviors that are sexually suggestive.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo is a reciprocal form of sexual harassment. It requires an employee to succumb to unwelcome sexual conduct. For example, requesting sex, in exchange for anything related to employment, such as threatening to alter the terms of employment, including any tangible benefits, a promotion or requirement to maintain an individual’s current position. One example where a superior would be at fault for quid pro quo sexual harassment is if he or she tells you that you will not be considered for a promotion unless you have sex with him or her.
Criteria for Legal Violation
It is illegal for an employer or person at fault for harassment to carry out any form of retaliation against an employee/ complaining party for making a complaint or seeking legal action for sexual harassment. In addition, there are three general criteria that must be met for the sexually harassing behavior to be considered a violation of the law.
First, the complaining party/ employee must show that the behavior was offensive, unwelcome and sufficiently severe or pervasive. These criteria would not be met in instances where the complaining party participated in creating the hostile work environment, such as telling a dirty joke, or evidence can prove that he or she was engaged in a consensual relationship with a co-worker with whom he or she claims quid pro quo sexual harassment.
The second requirement is that the complaining party/employee show that his or her employer knew or should have reasonably known about the sexual harassment. In cases where the harassment occurred in the presence of a supervisor or is a repeat offense, the complaining party/employee may have not been required to complain about the sexual harassment to recover. The third is to establish that prompt remedial action was not carried out by an employer.
If you are the victim of sexual harassment, contact Atlanta Sexual Harassment Attorney J. Stephen Mixon, at Millar and Mixon, LLC today for a free initial consultation.
Making a Sexual Harassment Complaint
There are several guidelines to follow in regards to sexual harassment and the workplace. First, you have a right to maintain a private life separate from your workplace and dating another employee does not permit other employees to harass you. Should you encounter misconduct at the workplace, be sure to object right away and at any time you find the conduct to be offensive or significant. If there is company policy on sexual harassment at your work place, be sure to follow it precisely.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment by a co-worker or supervisor, or even a customer, it is your duty to report the misconduct to Human Resources, a supervisor or other person with authority at your place of work. When making a complaint, be sure to do so in writing whenever possible and keep a copy. Also be sure to make a note of their exact response.
Under some circumstances, such as severe physical or verbal assault or if your employer is involved in the harassment, it may be more appropriate to make your complaint to the police or the EEOC.
Your employer is legally obligated to investigate your allegations and attempt to resolve the issue in a reasonable manner. Be aware that the harasser may not be fired based on the seriousness of the misconduct and if it is his or her first offense. After corrective measures have been made, yet they are not working after a period of time, notify your employer that additional action needs to be taken.
Failure to report that you were harassed by a co-worker will cause you to lose your sexual harassment claim. If your employer fails to nothing in regards to your complaint, it is your right to file sexual harassment charges with the EEOC.
If you think you have been sexually harassed, take immediate action. You have 180 days to file from the last date of discrimination. Contact Our Employment Lawyers now at 770-955-0100.
After you File a Sexual Harassment Complaint
After you file a complaint of sexual harassment, it is not unreasonable to expect a defense from your employer. Your employer may deny knowing anything about the alleged sexual harassment or deny that it ever occurred. He or she may also state that you welcomed the sexual conduct or argue that it was an insignificant incident. In such cases, you may need to show that your employer improperly addressed your complaint. Some examples are if your employer ignored previous complaints made by you or other employees or if your employer showed favor for some employees and made exceptions to the sexual harassment policy. Other examples are if your employer did not distribute a sexual harassment policy – even if it was adopted; hinders or thwarts an employee’s ability to make a complaint or previously retaliated against a complaining party/employee.
Damages You Are Entitled To If You Prove Unlawful Sexual Harassment
If you prove your complaint as unlawful sexual harassment, you may be entitled to damages in several forms. First, you may be granted job reinstatement and injunctive relief at your workplace. Injunctive relief is relief in which a court orders the workplace’s harassment and discrimination policies or practices be stopped and/or new ones implemented. Monetary damages may include compensatory and punitive: the amount necessary to make you feel whole and the amount awarded to you to serve as a punishment and deterrence for the misconduct. You may also be entitled to front pay and back pay, as well as any expenses or fees incurred by hiring an attorney.
Compensatory Damage Limits
- $50,000 limit (Employers with 15-100 employees)
- $100,000 limit (Employers with 101-200 employees)
- $200,000 limit (Employers with 201-500 employees)
- $300,000 limit (Employers with more than 500 employees)
*These limits do not apply to the other damages available to you.
If you think you have been sexually harassed, take immediate action as you only have 180 days to file from the last date of discrimination. Contact Our Sexual Harassment Lawyers now at 770-955-0100.
This information included is not intended to serve as a substitute
for consultation with an attorney. Specific legal issues, concerns
and conditions always require the advice of appropriate legal professionals.