North Carolina Sexual Harassment Law
If you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels at work and aren’t getting where you want to be, it might be your fault – but it might not. There are times when you can hit a glass ceiling not because of who you are or what you are capable of, but because of what your gender is. If you are the victim of discrimination – or worse, sexual harassment – and it is keeping you from well-deserved advancement or being promoted, you do not have to remain silent or fear retaliation. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee in North Carolina, both at the state and federal levels.
The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act makes it illegal for anyone to be discriminated against according to their sex when they either seek to be hired or to hold onto their position. The Act governs any employer with more than 15 workers; those with fewer than 15 are under the jurisdiction of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. So, you do have several outlets to make the discrimination or sexual harassment stop. It is explicitly prohibited, according to the Civil Rights Act, to engage in sexually harassing behaviors in the workplace.
In North Carolina, what behaviors constitute sexual harassment?
Although there are several different behaviors that could be considered sexual harassment, in general, harassment is considered to be any misconduct that either threatens or intimidates someone to the point of prohibiting their sense of security or their work performance. It isn’t just about someone telling an off-color sexual joke once. For it to be sexual harassment, the behavior has to be pervasive and systematic enough to make the work environment hostile to workers. It also has to be “reasonably” offensive. In legal terms, “reasonable” is a construct that means that it isn’t just offensive to one person, but that any reasonable person would also be offended by the behavior.
Behaviors that constitute sexual harassment are varied, but some examples would be: inappropriate sexual touching, derogatory remarks or comments about sex, lewd sounds, unwelcome sexual advances or explicitly sexual material.
There are times when sexual harassment can consist of one single episode. In quid pro quo sexual harassment cases, someone with authority or power over your position makes a sexual request and makes it known – either explicitly or implicitly – that if you do not comply with the request your position might be in jeopardy. In the same way, they make it known that if you do something sexual for them, they will advance your position at work. These are both are examples of “quid pro quo” sexual harassment.
How you can make it stop
The first step to take if you are the victim of sexual harassment is to make both your employer and the harasser aware of the misconduct and demand that it stop and be dealt with. Most employers will have protocols in place about how to handle sexual harassment claims. Since it is imperative that you follow the process accordingly, it would behoove you to hire a North Carolina sexual harassment lawyer to assist you from start to finish, just in case the harassment doesn’t stop and you need to file a formal complaint.
You will also want to file a claim at the federal level through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Your North Carolina sexual harassment attorney can walk you through the process of making a federal claim, in addition to making your employer aware.
Can I file a lawsuit to hold my employer liable?
If you can prove that you made both your harasser and your employer aware of the misconduct and that they did nothing to ameliorate the situation, and you suffered damages as a result, then yes, you might be able to hold them liable for compensatory – and in some cases, punitive – damages. But since sexual harassment is not always easy to prove in a court of law, the best place to start is to contact USAttorneys.com and get connected with an experienced North Carolina sexual harassment lawyer who can ensure that you are handling the case properly, and can help you get the harassment to stop and get you back to a productive work environment.