Sexual harassment is considered an intentional tort in Georgia. It has long been the law that a person who has been assaulted or raped can bring suit against the wrongdoer and ask a jury to award general and punitive damages. Georgia recognizes a common law action for sexual harassment — which can either be an assault or classified as intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Atlanta sexual harassment attorneys at McAleer Law have been very successful in defending the rights of sexual harassment victims.
Sexual harassment most commonly arises in the context of an employer-employee relationship. The workplace unfortunately may foster an environment more prone to such assaults or harassment because it offers a captive victim to the wrongdoer, and the victim may be fearful of speaking out because they are worried about losing their job or being demoted or looked over for promotions.
Filing Sexual Harassment Claims in Georgia
Though one single act can form the basis for a sexual harassment claim, the truly egregious cases involve a long history of such harassment in the context of an employer turning a blind eye to such conduct. Such victims often feel humiliated, embarrassed, and frightened. These feelings give rise to a cause of action for damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress. Such damages can be extremely high due to the outrageous nature of the wrongdoer's conduct.
Examples of Sexual Misconduct
Examples of conduct that gives rise to a cause of action for sexual harassment include:
- Making lewd and obscene comments and gestures
- Making repeated sexual advances
- Touching the plaintiff in private areas or even non-private areas when coupled with lewd and suggestive statements
To form the basis of a strong complaint for sexual harassment, these advances must be unwanted. If the plaintiff never objects to such conduct and even occasionally participates in such exchanges, this will give rise to a defense of consent. Speak to a sexual harassment lawyer in Georgia to find out if you have a strong sexual harassment claim under State or Federal laws.
Holding Wrongdoers Accountable for Sexual Harassment in Georgia
An employer can be held responsible for an employee's behavior in such cases if the employer ratifies the behavior or if the employer is found to be negligent in allowing such conduct to take place. If it can be shown that an employer, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known of an employee's reputation for making unwanted advances which amount to sexual harassment — and it was also foreseeable that the employee would sexually harass a fellow employee but was allowed to continue working with the employer — the employer can be held responsible for the plaintiff's damages.
If evidence is introduced that suggests that the employer did not care about the employee's complaints and did nothing to come to the employee's aid, punitive damages can be awarded against the employer.
Georgia superior courts can hear state law claims for sexual harassment and may also hear federal law claims as well. Federal law does not override state law claims for sexual harassment. If you are the victim of sexual harassment, you should speak to an attorney now to put an end to such malicious behavior.
Call McAleer Law at 404-622-5337 for a free assessment of your Atlanta sexual harassment claim.