Is It Sexual Harassment? The Answer Often Depends On The Particular Facts Of Each Situation

When you think about sexual harassment, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is a male boss making inappropriate comments, gestures and other sexual overtures toward a female employee. However, sexual harassment can exist in many different situations. In legal terms, sexual harassment is defined as “unwelcome conduct that creates a hostile environment based on your sex that is sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of your employment.” It may exist as the result of male conduct toward a female employee, female conduct toward a male employee, or same sex harassment.

Rather than having one specific definition, whether a claim for sexual harassment exists depends on the particular set of circumstances in each case. The bottom line, though, is that, whether you’re a man or a woman, if you are subjected to a steady stream of unwelcome and offensive conduct that is based on your sex, and you complain about the harassment to your employer, but your employer does nothing about it, you probably have a strong claim of sexual harassment.

If you have questions about sexual harassment or believe that you may have been subjected to sexual harassment at work, its important to contact a top Atlanta sex discrimination lawyer right away. A knowledgeable Georgia employment discrimination attorney can help answer your questions and determine your next steps.

A recent case looked specifically at same-sex harassment and under what circumstances such a claim is allowed. In Barrows v. Seneca Foods Corp., male food industry worker claimed that his supervisor requested a “blowjob” from him and touched his genitals.

The worker also presented evidence that female employees were not subject to the same treatment. Because the comments and actions were male-specific, the court determined that they could be considered “gender-based” and as a result, a jury could find sexual harassment existed.

An important issue in this case was that the supervisor was not considered gay and motivated by sexual desire. While showing that the same sex harasser is gay is one type of evidence that supports a finding of sexual harassment, it’s not the only one. Another way to show same sex discrimination is if the worker can establish that the harassment is so sex-specific and derogatory that it makes it clear the harasser was motivated by a general hostility to the presence of someone of the same sex in the workplace. Finally, a worker can also present direct comparative evidence showing the alleged harasser subjected members of the two sexes to unequal treatment in the workplace.

Here, by showing that females were not subjected to the same treatment the court found that enough evidence existed of same sex harassment based on the crude comments and physical gestures.

For more information or if you believe that you have been subjected to harassment please contact the leading Georgia sex harassment lawyers at Buckley Bala Wilson Mew LLP for an immediate case evaluation.