Discrimination based on sex – including sexual harassment – is unlawful under federal and North Carolina state law. Employers are liable when sexual harassment is perpetrated by a supervisor and the misconduct impacts an employee's working conditions, or if it is known by management and allowed to continue. However, North Carolina law allows an employer to defend against allegations of sexual harassment if they implemented preventative measures and took prompt action to correct any harassing conduct.
Institute Preventative Measures
Institute a formal written policy stating sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace and the employer has zero-tolerance for violations of this policy.
Provide training to all employees informing them of the policy and have them sign a document acknowledging they received a copy of the employer's anti-harassment policy and they understand the policy.
Post notices in the workplace, advising employees to promptly report any instances of sexual harassment to designated human resources officials and that such reports will be confidential.
Institute Prompt Corrective Action
Act immediately to investigate any allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. The law allows the employer to defend against claims of sexual harassment if they take prompt corrective action to stop the harassment.
Separate the harasser from the victim of harassment immediately. Reassign the alleged harasser to a work location away from the victim and instruct them not to have any contact with the victim. If this action is not plausible, the employer should consider placing the alleged harasser on administrative leave.
Investigate the allegations of harassment by taking written statements from the complaining employee, witnesses and the alleged harasser. If the employer's inquiry fails to uncover credible evidence of sexual misconduct then the employer has developed a record that would defend returning the alleged harasser to the workplace.