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Although people often think of management and employee relationships when sexual harassment is mentioned, this unlawful behavior can be perpetrated by a co-worker. It can be severe and pervasive enough to lead to a hostile work environment. The sexual harassment attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert have a thorough understanding of the laws that apply to Atlanta businesses and individuals. If you have a legal issue on which you need guidance or representation, we can help you.Inappropriate Co-Worker Behavior Can Create a Hostile Work Environment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from unlawful discrimination based on gender. Sexual harassment is a form of prohibited gender-based conduct. Offensive behavior of a sexual nature is unlawful harassment when the employee must submit to the conduct as an explicit or implicit term or condition of employment, when the employee’s response to the behavior is used as the basis for an employment decision, or when the conduct is intended to or actually does interfere with the employee’s performance or create a work environment that is intimidating, offensive, or hostile.
Offensive conduct does not have to be committed by management. Sexual harassment can occur when co-workers at the same level of the organization engage in offensive conduct. Generally, a claim arising from harassment by a co-worker will be based on a hostile work environment. A court will consider the conduct based on a reasonable-person standard to determine if the offensive conduct was pervasive or severe enough to warrant liability. Single incidents are usually not sufficient to constitute a hostile work environment, but the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has stated that a single incident that is very severe may be enough, such as an assault.
Federal regulations state that an employer may be liable for harassment by a non-supervisory employee if it knew or should have known about the harassing behavior and failed to take prompt corrective action.
The remedies available in a particular case will depend heavily upon the facts of that case. An employee may be entitled to an injunction, to reinstatement, to back pay, to front pay, or to compensatory damages. In some cases that are especially egregious, punitive damages may be appropriate. They are awarded in order to deter the employer or similarly situated entities from engaging in or permitting a certain type of conduct.
Title VII is administered by the EEOC, so an employee wishing to pursue a claim under this federal law must first file a charge with the agency so that it can investigate the situation. This charge must be filed within 180 days of the alleged harassment. An employee or employer with a legal issue involving gender discrimination or another type of hostile work environment should not hesitate to consult a legal professional to understand all of the legal rights and options that may be implicated.Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Concerns with an Atlanta Attorney
The employment discrimination lawyers at Parks, Chesin & Walbert have experience handling harassment cases throughout the Atlanta area and elsewhere in Georgia for both employees and employers. If you have a concern involving unlawful or questionable conduct by a non-supervisory employee, we can help you take any action that may be appropriate. Call us at 404-873-8048 or contact us online.