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Sexual harassment is illegal when it creates a hostile work environment or results in the victim being fired or demoted. A harasser could be anyone in the workplace, including a supervisor, a co-worker, or a customer.

Although Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does not formally list sexual harassment as a form of discrimination, the Supreme Court has expanded its application to sexual harassment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is harassment because of the person’s sex. This includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. Some important things to know about Title VII:

  • Women are a protected class under Title VII.
  • In order to prevail on a sexual harassment claim, a female employee must prove that she was subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment, which was based on her sex, affected her employment, and that her employer vicariously responsible.
  • The Court applies a two-part test in determining whether the harassment affected the plaintiff’s employment.
    1. The harassment must have been so severe that it created a work environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive
    2. The plaintiff actually found the work environment to be hostile or abusive.
  • It applies to all employers with at least 15 employees.
  • A sexual harassment claim must be filed within 180 days of the harassment.

There are no laws in Georgia that deal directly with sexual harassment. Instead, lawsuits may be filed under the tort claims of assault, battery, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Under certain circumstances, victims can hold their employer responsible for harassment that occurred in the workplace. An employer can be held responsible for the conduct of employees if the employer knew or should have known about the employees’ actions, or explicitly or implicitly approved of the conduct. A tort claim brought under Georgia law can be brought within two years of the harassment.

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment, contact an experienced Georgia employment law attorney.

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