Sexual Harassment Laws in North Carolina

Laws protect us from sexual harassment at both the federal and state level, allowing those who have experienced it to seek justice, as well as providing an incentive for the proper treatment of others. 


If you’ve been involved with a sexual harassment case in North Carolina, it’s important to contact an experienced attorney no matter what side of the case you’re on. 


North Carolina’s laws for sexual harassment


In North Carolina, two main pieces of legislation come into play for sexual harassment cases: 


  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:  
  • State laws on Unlawful Workplace Harassment


Since most sexual harassment cases stem from incidents in the workplace, the majority of lawsuits will cite the State’s laws. In the state of North Carolina, all sexual harassment lawsuits must be filed within six months. Because many cases involve some sort of power imbalance, for example between a CEO and a younger intern, many plaintiffs feel too intimidated to act quickly, and end up losing the chance to seek justice. 


Defining sexual harassment in North Carolina


Oftentimes there’s a grey area in what sexual harassment actually is, creating difficulties in lawsuits. The majority of cases involve incidents in the workplace, and for a plaintiff to effectively accuse someone of sexual harassment in the workplace, they have to provide reasonable proof of: 


  • Being pressured to accept sexual advances in order to keep one’s job
  • Sexual advances or hostile sexual comments that interfere with the ability to do one’s job
  • That others who didn’t capitulate to the sexual advances were punished in some way; for example being demoted, fired, or not promoted.


The workplace can obviously be a complex place involving many different dynamics and scenarios, so the courts have to reasonably categorize the incident or situation as sexual harassment. Some examples of legitimate sexual harassment in then workplace include:


  • Touching an employee or co-worker against their will, which could be anything from a “pat” to something more aggressive like full on rape or sexual assault
  • Demeaning or hostile jokes, for example calling a woman a “whore” or “slut.” 
  •  Bosses blackmailing employees into sexual relations and then punishing them somehow for not going along with it
  • Stalking 


Sexual harassment can take many different forms, but usually involves a sexual advance made against one’s will, and continues even when the aggressor is aware that it’s unwanted. Some things that aren’t sexual harassment are a single incidence of making a non-sexual compliment, asking a coworker out on a date, sending a text, or having consensual intimate conversations. Even consensual sexual relations within the workplace is not considered sexual harassment. 


Dealing with sexual harassment in North Carolina


From Redwood to Raleigh, The legal system can be complex to navigate, and with North Carolina’s time limit on filing suits, time can’t be wasted on getting the ball rolling. If you’ve experienced or been involved with sexual harassment, contact an experienced attorney now to see how you can get justice.


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