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Gender Discrimination (Sexual Harassment)

Title VII protects employees from gender discrimination at work. For example, it is illegal for an employer to take a “tangible employment action” against an employee (like firing or demoting them) because of the employee’s gender. It is also illegal for an employer to subject an employee to a “hostile work environment” because of the employee’s gender.

Sexual harassment is a common form of gender discrimination. Title VII prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Providing examples is the clearest way to define harassment. The following are common types of sexual harassment:

  1. Your supervisor pressures you for sexual contact by threatening a negative consequence (like a demotion or termination) or offering a positive consequence (like a promotion or a bonus) and/or
  2. You are subjected to severe or pervasive sexually charged language and/or sexual touchings at work.

Harassment that contributes to a hostile environment can be any type—written, verbal, or physical.

Most sexual harassment claims are asserted by women, but men also experience sexual harassment, and men can also assert claims under Title VII.

If you prove a Title VII sexual harassment claim, you may recover lost wages, emotional and punitive damages (subject to limits based on the company’s number of employees), and attorneys’ fees.  State tort law may also protect employees from sexual harassment at work. For example, an employee who has been harassed might have civil claims for assault and battery. Other torts like negligent hiring or supervision can allow you to hold your employer responsible when it knew or should have known about the harasser’s tendency to sexually harass people at work.

If you are employed by a state or local government and are sexually harassed at work, you also have an Equal Protection claim. Unlike Title VII claims, Equal Protection claims do not have caps that limit the amount of emotional and punitive damages that you can be awarded.

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, please call (470) 823-4000.


Every federal statute that prohibits discrimination in the workplace has an anti-retaliation provision. As such, it is unlawful for an employee to be retaliated against for opposing perceived discrimination or participating in an EEOC investigation regarding such discrimination. In other words, if you believe you were discriminated against and you complained to your supervisor about such discrimination and then the employer took an adverse employment action against you because of that report, that retaliatory act is unlawful. The same is true for co-workers who report discrimination or otherwise provide information regarding discrimination on behalf of a fellow employee. If you successfully demonstrate that your employer unlawfully retaliated against you, you are entitled to lost wages, compensatory and punitive damages (that may be capped depending on the number of employees), and attorneys’ fees.


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