Sexual harassment is an issue that has plagued society for centuries, and unfortunately, North Carolina is no exception. It encompasses any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that affects the recipient’s ability to do their job or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Although sexual harassment itself is not a criminal charge, there are cases in which sexual harassment can cross the line and become criminal in nature.
This post is going to how accusations of sexual harassment are typically handled in our state, as well as what happens when the line is crossed into criminal behavior.
When Sexual Harassment Is Handled By North Carolina Employers
In North Carolina, an employer is responsible for creating and maintaining a work environment free of harassment. To this end, employers are legally obligated to have a clear policy on sexual harassment that outlines situations that could be considered inappropriate and establish guidelines for how complaints should be handled. Furthermore, employers in North Carolina must provide sexual harassment training to all employees.
According to the North Carolina General Statutes (Article 7B), it is unlawful for a supervisor or employer to “make employment decisions affecting an employee” on the basis of whether the employee submitted or rejected unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors.
Additionally, it is also illegal to “coerce or attempt to coerce an employee into submitting to unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or to discriminate against any employee who refuses such advances.”
Typically, sexual harassment accusations do not rise to criminal acts and will be dealt with by employers. How they are dealt with varies based on company policy, but common outcomes include verbal and written warnings, required training or counseling, suspension, or possibly the responsible party losing their job altogether.
Criminal Sexual Harassment: When Bad Workplace Behavior Is a Crime
Criminal charges for sexual harassment in North Carolina can be filed under several different statutes based on the particular action taken.
For example, if someone physically touches another person without their consent, they may be charged with sexual battery. If someone repeatedly contacts or follows another individual without their permission, they may also be charged with stalking.
Furthermore, if an employer is found to have engaged in discrimination against an employee on the basis of their sex or gender identity, this could qualify as a violation of the state’s civil rights laws.
Depending on the severity of the offense, penalties for sexual harassment can include fines and/or jail time, and all come with a permanent criminal record.
Fighting Back against North Carolina Sex Crime Charges
In North Carolina, any individual found guilty of sexual harassment could potentially face serious criminal charges, fines, and even jail time depending on their specific actions.
Because of this, it is vital for anyone accused to reach out to a knowledgeable legal professional as soon as possible. The sooner you have a sex crimes attorney on your side, the more likely you are to obtain a positive outcome in the situation and ensure that your rights and future are protected.