Sexual Harassment in the Hiring Process

Employment Discrimination Attorneys Serving the Atlanta Area

In today’s job market, even highly qualified candidates can have difficulty finding employment. Harassment in the hiring process may go unreported because the potential employee needs the job. At Mays & Kerr, our experienced Atlanta lawyers are familiar with the law on sexual harassment as it applies to both employees and job candidates. If you have a legal issue involving misconduct during recruitment and hiring, or would like to further understand the scope of the law, we are available to assist you.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Discrimination based on sex is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies only to employers with 15 or more employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission administers and enforces Title VII. Before a person can file a claim under this law, he or she must file a charge with the EEOC, generally within 180 days after the discrimination occurred. Victims of harassment must, therefore, act quickly to ensure their rights are protected.

Prohibited sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the person’s employment, is used as a basis for a tangible employment decision, unreasonably interferes with work performance, or creates a hostile work environment. Harassment may include sexual advances or requests, other sexual comments, or physical contact. Sexual harassment may also involve conduct that is not sexual in nature, but is instead based on the person’s sex or gender. It is a form of sex-based discrimination.

Harassment and discrimination can occur at any stage of the employment process, including selection and hiring. There are two broad types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Types of Unlawful Conduct

Quid pro quo harassment may occur when an employment decision is based on the person’s submission to or rejection of unwanted sexual conduct. In the context of the hiring process, it may involve a hiring manager or another decision maker telling the candidate that he or she will get the job in exchange for a sexual favor, or that the candidate will not get the job if he or she does not submit to the request. Employers are generally liable for sexual harassment by a supervisor if the harassment results in a tangible employment action, such as failing to hire the candidate. Amount of compensation, vacation time, or other benefits or conditions of employment that may be negotiated during the hiring process may also constitute a tangible employment action.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when the behavior is so pervasive or severe that it creates an intimidating or hostile environment. Generally, a single incident does not meet that standard, but there are some incidents, such as overt assaults, that have been so severe as to qualify. Quid pro quo harassment is more likely to occur during the hiring process, since hostile work environment claims generally require a showing of multiple incidents. Additionally, advances made during the hiring process may be perceived as having the implication that the candidate’s response will affect whether he or she is hired and the quality of the offer.

Remedies for a claimant who succeeds in a sexual harassment claim may include hiring, back pay, and front pay, as well as compensatory damages and, in extreme cases, punitive damages. Title VII places caps on the amounts of compensatory and punitive damages that may be awarded.

Discuss a Sexual Harassment Claim with an Atlanta Lawyer

The knowledgeable employment discrimination attorneys at Mays & Kerr have helped both employees and employers in the Atlanta area navigate complex issues related to sexual harassment. We can evaluate the details of your situation and advise you on how to proceed. If you have a legal issue involving conduct that happened during the hiring process, contact us online or call us at 1-877-986-5529.