Same-Sex Harassment

Atlanta Attorneys Experienced in Employment Discrimination Issues

When people think about sexual harassment, they often assume that it involves a male targeting a female. The reality is that this forbidden behavior can occur between members of the same gender. The attorneys at Mays & Kerr have experience assisting both employees and employers in matters related to discrimination. If you have a legal issue involving same-sex harassment, you may benefit from the advice of a knowledgeable employment discrimination lawyer who has served many clients near Atlanta.

Increase in Harassment Complaints by Male Employees

In 1997, only 11.6% of the sexual harassment charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) and state and local agencies were filed by males. In 2011, that number had increased to 16.3%. There has been speculation that this rise is partly due to more frequent reporting of same-sex harassment after the Supreme Court found that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”) prohibits this conduct

Workplace Rights Under Title VII

Pursuant to Title VII, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate “because of sex.” This ban includes sexual harassment or adverse treatment based on someone’s gender. There are two forms of this conduct prohibited by Title VII: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a person’s submission to or rejection of unwelcome advances is used as the basis of an employment decision. It is often a request or demand for favors in exchange for a job-related benefit, or to avoid a threatened adverse workplace action.

Sexual harassment often does not involve a serious request or demand for favors, but instead it may consist of unwelcome conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it leads to an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. The Supreme Court has found that harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire to support an inference of discrimination. After the Supreme Court decided Onacle v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., plaintiffs no longer have to show that the alleged perpetrator in a same-sex harassment case is homosexual or attracted to members of the same gender. The relevant inquiry is not the alleged harasser’s orientation, but whether the conduct occurred “because of sex.” If the perpetrator is motivated by sexual attraction, a same-sex harassment case can be proven by using the same type of evidence as a case involving members of opposite genders.

Before filing a discrimination lawsuit under Title VII, a person must first file a charge with the EEOC within 180 days after the discrimination occurred. Remedies for sexual harassment may include back pay, front pay, and compensatory and punitive damages. A plaintiff may also be able to obtain an injunction enjoining the discriminatory conduct.

Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Claim with an Atlanta Lawyer

Although Onacle was decided in 1998, same-sex discrimination is still a developing area of law. The sexual harassment attorneys at Mays & Kerr have an extensive knowledge of the rules that affect Atlanta employers and employees. If you have a concern related to same-sex discrimination, we have the skills to help you. Call us at 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.