Sexual Harassment (Title VII)

Sexual Harassment in Employment Law in Georgia

The experienced, compassionate Atlanta sexual harassment lawyers at Martin & Martin routinely successfully handle cases involving sexual harassment and retaliation in the work place and, recently, obtained the second highest jury verdict in Georgia for the year in a sexual harassment and retaliation case.

Atlanta Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Kimberly Martin and Tom Martin have a combined 35 years of legal experience in litigating federal employment laws, including sexual harassment and retaliation. They follow best practices in successfully representing many Georgia employees who have been subjected to sexual harassment at work. Recently, they obtained the second highest jury verdict for the year in Georgia for a sexual harassment and retaliation case. Kimberly and Tom are proud of their client for her courage and conviction in coming forward after not only enduring sexual harassment at work, but, being terminated after she complained about the severe sexual harassment. She knew it was not right, and she fought. And, Kimberly and Tom are honored that she allowed them to passionately fight on her behalf.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII). While most sexual harassment cases that make the news in our country include female victims, the United States Supreme Court has ruled that the term “sex” as used in Title VII, includes sexual orientation and gender identity. Therefore, every worker in the country is protected from sexual harassment.

There are two types of sexual harassment in violation of Title VII. First, Title VII prohibits a hostile/harassing work environment. Second, Title VII’s sexual harassment law prohibits quid pro quo sexual harassment which is the offer of an employment action in exchange for or in response to a demand of sexual favors. Title VII also has an anti-retaliation prohibition that makes it illegal for a company to retaliate against an employee who complains about sexual harassment.

Title VII makes it unlawful to harass an applicant or employee because of that person’s sex. This is called hostile work environment sexual harassment. It can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including unwelcome touching and sexual assault. It is important to understand that sexual harassment does not require that the harassment be of a sexual nature. It can also include offensive comments about an individual’s sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. For example, it is a violation of Title VII to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Title VII does not prohibit isolated one-time comments. However, when the offensive comments are so frequent and severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, it is violation of Title VII. Also, the harasser does not need to be the victim’s supervisor, it can be a co-worker, another supervisor, or even a person who does not work for the company like a customer or vendor.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when there is a request or demand for sexual favors in exchange for an employment action or retaliation to an employee for their refusal to agree to the request or demand. An example is when a supervisor requires sexual favors from an employee in exchange for a promotion or preferential treatment.

There are a variety of circumstances that sexual harassment can occur in the work place, including:

The harasser is the victim’s co-worker, supervisor, other supervisor at the company, the company’s client or vendor;

The harasser and victim can be the same sex and the victim can be any sex;

The harassment can be on behalf of an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity;

The victim of sexual harassment does not have to be the person targeted for harassment but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct;

Submission of the offensive conduct is a term or condition of a person’s employment; and

Submission to, or rejection of, the offensive conduct is a basis for employment decisions like reassignment, reduction in pay, denial of a promotion, or termination.

Title VII’s sexual harassment law also prohibits retaliation on the basis of complaints of sexual harassment. This means that if an employee complains about sexual harassment to the company, files an EEOC Charge of Discrimination, participates as a witness in a sexual harassment investigation, or files a federal lawsuit or demand for arbitration, the company may not retaliate against them, including termination, demotion, reassignment, changing their work hours, reducing their pay, etc. The law requires that the company have a valid sexual harassment policy in place and they must follow that policy and conduct a legitimate sexual harassment investigation when an employee complains about sexual harassment.

One of the reasons that Kimberly and Tom unapologetically aggressively litigate their Title VII sexual harassment cases is because they have learned that by the time someone reaches out to them about sexual harassment at their place of work, the harasser has been engaging in sexual harassment for years. There are almost always multiple victims and each has their own story. Companies protect harassers when the harasser is making the company profitable. In return, Kimberly and Tom battle to reduce those profits on behalf of their clients who were forced to ensure intolerable work conditions. They fight to punish a company for choosing profits over employees because if it’s not right, Martin & Martin fights!

Know The Law Martin & Martin’s Who, What, When, Why & How Information on Sexual Harassment Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

Statute: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (Title VII).

Who does it Apply to: Title VII applies to employees and employee candidates and it applies to employers who have 15 or more employees during a specific time period.

What does it Say: Title VII prohibits employers from discriminating against employees and employee candidates on the basis of sex which includes sexual harassment. Title VII prohibits a hostile work environment/harassment on the basis of sex (sexual harassment). Additionally, Title VII prohibits employers from retaliating against employees for complaining about sexual harassment, participating in a sexual harassment investigation, filing an EEOC Charge, or filing a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.

When do You have to Act: Title VII, like several other employment laws, has a statute of limitations that requires employees to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of the discrimination or retaliation. Once the EEOC issues a Notice of Right to Sue, the employee has 90 days to file a federal Title VII sexual harassment lawsuit.

Why Should You File a Claim: An employee can recover damages for violations of Title VII, including lost wages and benefits, future lost wages and benefits, compensatory damages, including emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees and costs of litigation.

How do You File a Claim: Once an individual with a Title VII sexual harassment case retains Martin & Martin, Kimberly and Tom file the Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, if it has not yet been filed, on behalf of their client. Upon receipt of the EEOC’s Notice of Right Sue, they file the federal Title VII lawsuit in federal court.

Speak with the Harassment & Retaliation Attorneys at Martin & Martin

If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or retaliation in the work place, Kimberly and Tom welcome the opportunity to speak with you. Title VII’s statute of limitations is short and it is running, so speaking with an attorney as quickly as possible is important. Therefore, Tom and Kimberly are typically available for same day free consultations. Fill out the Contact Us form or call the firm directly.

For more information about employment laws, see Employment Laws Frequently Asked Questions.