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Workplace harassment based on immutable characteristics such as sex, race, or disability is against the law in Georgia, as well as the rest of the country. Federal and state laws protect employees from experiencing intimidation or hostility in the workplace based on those immutable characteristics.
A Georgia workplace harassment lawyer can help you assert your rights and obtain compensation for any damages you may suffer from harassment while on the job.
Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the workplace – and one that many people recognize as illegal. But what some may not know is harassment based on other immutable characteristics may be just as illegal.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the basis for most sexual harassment complaints. It and similar federal and state laws also provide protection from harassment based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, and disability.
If workplace harassment based on any of these characteristics becomes serious enough, an employee may have grounds for filing a claim against their employer with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity. Investigations by either entity can lead to a settlement with an employer or authorization to sue for damages in court.
Harassment must usually be either severe or pervasive to form the basis for a complaint and civil action, and it must generally be “intimidating,” create a “hostile work environment,” or be considered “offensive” to reasonable people.
Although actions that amount to minor annoyances or slights are generally not enough to sustain a workplace harassment claim unless they are part of a sustained pattern of behavior, name-calling, insults, threats, offensive statements and images, unwanted physical contact, and interference with work can all be illegal if they are severe or pervasive enough.
There is a common misconception that illegal workplace harassment can only be committed by a supervisor or other person in a senior position, but this not the case. Most workplace harassment laws, including Title VII, prohibit workplace harassment by anyone, regardless of their position.
Different standards of liability usually apply depending on the position of the person engaging in the behavior, however.
An employer is generally liable for harassment committed by a supervisor if the employer knew about the harassment but took no steps to prevent it, unless the employee refused to participate in corrective or preventive measures devised by the employer.
Employer liability for non-supervisor actions depends on whether the employer knew about, or ought to have known about, the harassing behavior and did nothing to stop it.
If you are suffering from workplace harassment, you should not be afraid to protect your right to work free of the humiliation and grief harassment can cause.
Most workplace harassment laws prohibit employers from retaliating against a person who complains of harassment, whether they do so internally or through official complaint procedures, such as those required by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
In fact, harassment based on an employee’s assertion of their workplace rights can form the basis of an illegal harassment claim in and of itself.
Harassment in the workplace is something you do not have to tolerate, and it is something that your employer is legally obligated to stop or prevent if it is based on sex, race, age, or another protected characteristic. If your employer will not act, then you should – and we can help. A knowledgeable Georgia workplace harassment lawyer can help you end workplace harassment and strive to get the compensation you deserve.