·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


What Behavior is Not Considered as Sexual Harassment in North Carolina?

— December 10, 2021

As soon as a person feels like their boundaries have been violated, they should report the incident to HR right away.

When serious cases and incidences of sexual harassment occur in the workplace, it can get very difficult for employees to work properly, and workplace productivity can be reduced significantly. Anyone who is being sexually harassed needs to speak up and understand that they will receive proper support if they can provide enough evidence to show the harassment took place.

There are different levels of sexual harassment, and they all almost always cause relationship problems, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychological complications that can often translate into physiological illnesses as well. The worse the harassment is, the more the victim will suffer, but also the more the victim will be allowed to file a sexual harassment claim and hold the perpetrator to account for their actions. In North Carolina, there are two separate laws that tackle the issue of sexual harassment. The first law makes workplace sexual harassment illegal and the second law orders employers to ensure they are properly educating and training their employees on the concept of sexual harassment.

Before getting into the details of what sort of behavior is considered harassment, let us take a look at that behavior which is not considered illegal. The best way to define non-sexual harassment is whether there was consensus and agreement between the two parties or not. Any act that is consensual and does not victimize a third party is considered okay. Getting romantically involved with a coworker and flirting with a coworker within their limits is all considered legally alright. However, a person should be very careful not to create any misunderstandings or cross any boundaries as the consequences for being reported, investigated, and possibly even charged are very dire.

Open plan office space with rows of people working at long desks with no barriers.
Photo by Alex Kotliarskyi on Unsplash.

Sexual behavior in the workplace becomes a serious problem when there is force or pressure on the victim, when employment benefits are linked to compliance, and when there is a hostile environment created in the workplace due to the behavior of the perpetrator.  It is important to note that some actions that may be seem okay are considered harassment as well. This includes repeatedly asking a coworker out despite their clear disapproval, making inappropriate comments, or touching a coworker against their will. 

What steps should be taken after sexual harassment occurs in North Carolina?

As soon as a person feels like their boundaries have been violated, they should report the incident to HR right away. It is always best to go with as much evidence a possible so that the management gets a better understanding of everything that has been going on. If the management fails to conduct a thorough investigation, or if they belittle a person’s concerns, individuals should get in touch with a sexual assessment attorney so they can get the legal help they need to protect themselves in their workplace. 

Join the conversation!