North Carolina law and workplace sexual harassment

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The nation watched in horrified fascination last fall as prominent, powerful male media and political figures nationwide were fired or forced to resign amid credible accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace. What about North Carolina? How does state law treat workplace sexual harassment?


According to IT services company BLR, “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.”


In November, a story in the Raleigh News & Observer accused the North Carolina state government of being oblivious to the problem of sexual harassment across North Carolina’s state agencies . A spokesperson for the NC Office of State Human Resources told the News & Observer that tracking workplace sexual harassment is impossible under the current system of how state workers are disciplined and reported. ““The process (of tracking sexual harassment) is really decentralized because each agency would handle any grievances of that type,” she said. “Of course they have EEO guidance from us, but they have their own EEO policy and plans.”


The NC State Human Resources Manual clearly says the “State of North Carolina prohibits in any form unlawful workplace harassment or retaliation based on opposition to unlawful workplace harassment of State employees or applicants. The state also requires that “every agency shall develop strategies to ensure that work sites are free from unlawful workplace harassment, including sexual harassment discrimination and retaliation.” The current situation as described above highlights the difficulties of tracking cases of sexual harassment among state employees and dealing appropriately with such cases.


Let’s hope North Carolina will step up its efforts to enforce the policy spelled out in its own HR manual: “All employees have the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassing conduct. No State employee shall engage in conduct that falls under the definition of unlawful workplace harassment, including sexual harassment discrimination, or retaliation, and no employment decisions shall be made on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age, color, disability, or genetic information.”


Richard Manger, principal of Manger Law Firm, has extensive experience in litigation and settlements, with a focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury law. We are proud of the strong relationships of loyalty and trust we develop with our clients. We go above and beyond to achieve the best possible outcome in your case. You can contact Richard Manger via email at, or by calling (336) 882-2000.

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