Working in a hostile work environment is exceedingly stressful, especially when that hostility is fostered by sexual misconduct. Sexual assault in the workplace is an extremely serious and prevalent issue and addressing any instances of sexual assault is crucial for putting an end to this behavior. Georgia has a strong stance against any sexual misconduct of any kind, so taking legal action when faced with an instance of sexual assault can help give victims of these crimes the support they need. 

Georgia Statutes on Sexual Misconduct in the Workplace

The sexual assault laws in Georgia are distinct from many others across the country. It is unlawful for someone with authority to supervise or discipline to have sexual relations with their subordinate. This includes anyone with the power to manage or discipline someone under a person’s care or who is being held in a facility, such as a long-term care facility, nursing home, home health care facility, or hospice. It also applies to patients of mental health professionals and student-teacher relationships. Consent is not a valid excuse, and the power dynamic between the aggressor and victim is the most significant determining factor for harassment and assault claims. 

What Is The Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment? 

By making remarks or suggestions that make workers uncomfortable, sexual harassment involves establishing a hostile work environment. Discriminatory remarks concerning a person’s gender or suggestions that sexual favors are required to obtain or maintain employment are examples of harassment. Sexual assault, on the other hand, usually refers to having intercourse with someone unable or unwilling to agree. Sexual assault laws in Georgia are situation specific. When a person who has some form of disciplinary or supervisory responsibility has sexual contact with one of their charges, whether the other person is consenting or not, it is sexual assault.

Power dynamics between both parties play a massive role in determining sexual assault and harassment. For instance, even if the student was of legal age to consent, a sexual encounter between a high school student and their instructor would be considered sexual assault. A therapist would likewise be guilty of sexual assault if they had consenting sexual relations with one of their patients.

What Does Sexual Assault Look Like?

Georgia’s sexual assault laws discuss sexual battery, which is any forced and non-consensual sexual contact between two individuals. When someone consciously makes non-consensual physical contact with the intimate portions of another person’s body, they are committing sexual battery. The major genital area, anus, groin, inner thighs, buttocks, and breasts are all considered “intimate parts” according to Georgia Code Title 16: Crimes and Offenses § 16-6-3. Enhanced punishments for sexual assault on a minor under the age of 16 are outlined in this statute as well.

How To Address Sexual Assault in the Workplace

Notify the Georgia Department of Labor and file a discrimination claim describing the incident or incidents of sexual harassment or assault. Georgia does not have a state agency specifically designated to handle sexual harassment claims, so in addition to the Department of Labor, Georgia’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can receive these reports of sexual assault as well. The office that is closest to the establishment where the assault took place should be the office receiving the claim.

Seeking Help With Sexual Assault Claims

Facing unwanted sexual attention, especially in the workplace, can be particularly jarring. When dealing with this harassment and assault, speaking with an attorney about possible legal action is essential for putting an end to this mistreatment. At Lamar Law Office, our team of legal professionals handles matters of sexual assault in the workplace very seriously. They are here to support and assist those facing this assault by creating a case. For more information on our services, visit our website and contact us today.