Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Raleigh
Fighting Workplace Sexual Harassment in North Carolina
Despite incredible progress in employment laws and gender equality, sexual harassment remains a widespread issue in workplaces across the country. Though sexual harassment still occurs, local, state and federal laws provide victims strong protections, and the right to hold their harassers and employers accountable.
At Edwards Kirby, our attorneys know that sexual harassment can make a work environment impossible, severely affect a worker’s well-being, and cause psychological suffering that harms their quality of life. We also know that victims can be intimidated by reporting sexual harassment and experience retaliation when they do courageously report it. If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, or retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, you may be entitled to compensation for your harm and losses.
Our team can help you explore your rights and fight back to hold employers and other at-fault parties accountable for harassment, misconduct, hostility, and inexcusable failures of oversight.
Why Trust Edwards Kirby Attorneys?
- Recognized Among The Best Lawyers in America®
- Over 170 Years of Legal Experience
- Record-Setting Results & Millions Recovered
- Personal Service, Prompt Communication
Edwards Kirby is comprised of proven trial attorneys who have secured numerous multi-million and record-setting results – including the largest workplace violence verdict in U.S. history. To discuss a potential sexual harassment lawsuit in Raleigh or North Carolina, contact us to speak with a lawyer.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment can take many forms, including unwanted touching, sexual advances, comments or verbal abuse, or exchanging sexual favors for advancement in the workplace. Victims may be of any gender, whether victim and harasser are a woman or man, or of the same sex.
When sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Although the law does not explicitly prohibit offhand comments, teasing of a simple nature, or isolated, non-serious incidents, it does make harassment illegal when:
- Harassment is frequent and severe enough to create an offensive or hostile work environment; or
- When harassment results in a victim being terminated (fired), demoted, or subject to another adverse employment action.
Sexual Harassment Definition
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance, request for favors of a sexual nature, or other physical or verbal sexually-oriented conduct when:
- A person’s employment requires them to tolerate such conduct (whether the condition is explicitly stated or implied);
- Employment decisions are based on whether a victim tolerates or rejects the harassing conduct;
- The sexually harassing conduct unreasonably interferes with the victim’s productivity and work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
The key issue in sexual harassment is the word unwelcome, which means the conduct is not mutually agreeable to both parties. In addition to involving any gender, sexual harassment can be instigated by a victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another division or department, a co-worker, or a third party, such as a customer.
Sexual Harassment Examples
At work, sexual harassment can take on many forms. Common examples include:
- Unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.
- Visual conduct of a sexual nature, such as leering, making sexual gestures, and displaying suggestive objects or pictures.
- Verbal conduct of a sexual nature, such as use of derogatory comments, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, and sexually suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations.
- Unwelcome physical conduct of a sexual nature, such as touching, brushing against a person, assault, and impeding or blocking movements.
- Sexually suggestive jokes or sexual innuendos, in some circumstances.
Are There Different Sexual Harassment Claims?
Although there are many different forms of sexual harassment and harassing conduct, there are generally two types of sexual harassment claims:
- Quid pro quo: The exchange of employment benefits for sexual favors (i.e. promotions, keeping your job, and other employment decisions being based on a victim’s willingness to tolerate or submit to the harassing conduct).
- Hostile work environment: When conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider hostile, offensive, intimidating, or abusive.
Sexual violence in the workplace is also a form of illegal harassment, whether it involves engaging in unwanted sexual acts by physical force, sexual acts against someone unable to understand the nature of the act (i.e. due to disability, intoxication, or intimidation), and abusive contact.
Can I File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against My Employer?
Your ability to pursue a sexual harassment lawsuit depends on facts and context. Generally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (federal law which prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace) applies to private employers, educational institutions, public agencies, and labor groups with 15 or more employees. States and local entities may also have their own laws that protect individuals from sexual harassment in the workplace. The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act, for example, prohibits discrimination based on sex.
Your employer’s liability will also depend on various factors, including the type of harassment and who committed it. For example:
- Employers are legally responsible for sexual harassment committed by supervisors that results in a tangible employment action (i.e. being fired, demoted, or given an unfavorable assignment), or harassment that creates a hostile work environment.
- Employers may be liable for sexual harassment committed by co-workers if the employer knew or should have known about the harassing conduct and failed to take appropriate remedial measures.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
Sexual harassment claims may allow victims to recover financial compensation and various remedies for their damages, including:
- Back pay / lost wages
- Reinstatement, hiring, or promotion
- Other monetary losses, such as the value of employment benefits
- Compensation for future losses
- Compensation for pain and suffering
- Punitive damages (in matters of egregious employer conduct)
- Costs associated with legal fees
Edwards Kirby: Raleigh Workplace Harassment Attorneys
Employers bear responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace. If you have questions about a potential case, your legal rights, and available options, Edwards Kirby is here to help. Call or contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation.