Georgia’s Judiciary has Established an Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government

As head of Georgia’s judiciary, Chief Justice Harold D. Melton announced he has established an “Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Judicial Branch of Government.” The Committee is charged with gathering research, examining and evaluating best practices, and encouraging all classes of Georgia courts and court councils to establish policies to prevent sexual harassment. Such policies would address providing training for judges and employees on sexual harassment and other workplace harassment that is prohibited by law, and they should establish procedures for recognizing harassment and responding to complaints.

Justice Sarah H. Warren of the Supreme Court of Georgia has been appointed Chair of the Committee. Other members include:

  • Judge Carla McMillian, Court of Appeals of Georgia
  • Judge Horace J. Johnson, Jr., Superior Court, Alcovy Judicial Circuit
  • Judge Dax E. Lopez, State Court, DeKalb County
  • Judge Maureen E. Wood, Juvenile Court, Rockdale Judicial Circuit
  • Judge T.J. Hudson, Probate Court, Treutlen County
  • Chief Judge Joyette Holmes, Magistrate Court, Cobb County
  • Judge Matthew McCord, Municipal Court, Stockbridge

The Committee is due to present its findings and recommendations to the full Judicial Council, which is chaired by the Chief Justice, no later than Dec. 31, 2019.

The national Conference of Chief Justices recently adopted a resolution “In Support of Commitment to Awareness and Training on Workplace Harassment in the Judicial Branch.” Last month, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued an Executive Order “Preventing Sexual Harassment in the Executive Branch of Government.”

The Georgia state court initiative is in line with the recent push in the federal judiciary to establish and strengthen anti-harassment policies and procedures within the federal court system.

Given the direction Georgia’s Judiciary is moving in, public entity employers should turn their attention to the following steps to mitigate risk:

  1. Review and update policies regarding sexual harassment prevention. Ensure that company policies and procedures clearly outline a process for responding to complaints.
  2. Train employees and supervisory staff on harassment prevention training and the employers’ policies and procedures.
  3. Train any internal personnel charged with handling investigations on best practices in conducting ethical workplace investigations and understanding when to engage an outside investigator.

ELS attorneys have experience in conducting the following types of investigations with public entity employers: sexual harassment complaints, hostile work environment, bullying, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and workplace misconduct.

Contact Chandra Davis at [email protected] or Raquel Crump at [email protected] for assistance with workplace policies, procedures, training, and investigation.

Atlanta, February 21, 2019