As a general concept, “harassment” is not something that the courts will do anything about. North Carolina is an at-will employment state, which generally means that the courts will not interfere with how an employer treats his or her employees unless there is a specific law that makes it illegal.
However, if the harassment is based on a protected class, such as sex, age, color, disability, national origin, race, or religion, it is covered by the same federal laws that prohibit discrimination against those classes. Click on the links in this paragraph or in the menu to see those laws.
In order for harassment to be actionable, the following criteria must be met:
- The victim must be a member of a protected class (as noted above);
- The offender engaged in unwelcome conduct;
- The unwelcome conduct was based on the victim’s protected class;
- The conduct either (a) affected a term of employment, or (b) had the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the work environment or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. (Whether this criteria is met is based on a “reasonable person” and “actual offense” test.)
For more information on the laws prohibiting discrimination against employees based on their protected classes, please see the links on this page.
For answers to your employment harassment questions and to set up a consultation, call a Hensel Law attorney today at (336) 218-6466.