North Carolina Sexual Harassment laws & HR compliance analysis

North Carolina Sexual Harassment: What you need to know

Under the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act, it is the public policy of the state to protect and safeguard the right of all persons to seek, obtain, and hold employment without discrimination based on sex (NC Gen. Stat. Sec. 143-422.2 et seq.). The Act applies to all private employers of 15 or more employees. Employers with 15 or more employees are also covered by the federal fair employment law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits sexual harassment.
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A federal court in North Carolina ruled in favor of an employee based on evidence that her former employer failed to correct her supervisor's sexual harassment and then retaliated against the employee (Tate v. First Citizens Bank, No. 5:07-CV-492-BO (E.D.N.C. 2009)). The evidence showed that following the employee's complaint of harassment, her employer conducted a 1-day investigation and reported inconclusive results. The employer then asked the employee to transfer to another location, away from the supervisor. After a few years, the alleged harasser again became the employee's supervisor, and the offensive conduct resumed. The employee complained, and the employer investigated and reported inconclusive results. The employee subsequently was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and took a medical leave, after which her employer told her she could return to work for the same supervisor, retire, or be fired. The court concluded that there was sufficient evidence of sexual harassment, retaliation, and constructive discharge for the employee to proceed to trial.
Practical tip: Employers should take seriously complaints of harassment and conduct thorough investigations. After a complaint has been filed, ...

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