What is Sexual Harassment?

While many workplace behaviors that are troubling or upsetting are not illegal, sexual harassment at work violates federal employment law. If you believe you have been subjected to illicit behavior from a co-worker, manager, or boss, contact a sexual harassment attorney at Miller Law Group today.

Sadly, sexual harassment is quite common. In a recent survey, more than 80% of the women asked indicated that they had experienced some form of sexual harassment, in the workplace or elsewhere. More than 40% of men also reported experience sexual harassment or assault.

What is considered Sexual Harassment by Law in North Carolina

Most people know that “quid pro quo”—demanding sex in return for a job, a promotion, or some other benefit—is sexual harassment. Unwanted touching is also clearly sexual harassment (and often crosses the line into criminal battery).

But sexual harassment can take other forms, as well. In fact, it includes all kinds of unwanted conduct or targeted bullying based on a person’s sex. Did you know these things are also sexual harassment?

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  •     Making repeated comments, or telling jokes or stories, about sexual acts or private body parts
  •     Making comments or telling offensive jokes in someone’s hearing to make that person uncomfortable
  •     Making offensive gestures
  •     Sending letters, notes, emails, or texts that talk about sexual acts or private body parts
  •     Sharing sexually charged images or videos
  •     Engaging in sex or gender-related name calling, making insulting comments about a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation, or asking intrusive questions about gender identity or sexual orientation
  •     Teasing, name calling, or other targeted conduct based on someone’s failure to conform to gender stereotypes
  •     Teasing, name calling, or other targeted conduct based on someone’s sexual orientation (whether presumed or known)
  •     Asking for sexual favors
  •     Paying excessive and intrusive attention to a person (for instance, by following them around or blocking their way)
  •     Repeatedly asking for dates, even after being denied

Keep in mind, too, that sexual harassment can occur between members of the same sex. For instance, a male waiter was bullied by his male coworkers for carrying his tray “like a girl” and generally not being masculine enough. They referred to him as “she” and called him “faggot” and “female whore.” A federal court of appeals held that this behavior was sexual harassment—the waiter was mistreated because he did not fit his coworkers’ gender-based stereotypes.

Federal Employment Laws that protect you from Sexual Harassment

Federal employment laws are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). According to the (EEOC), “Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.”


It’s not easy to win a sexual harassment claim. But if you are experiencing inappropriate, lewd, unsolicited behavior or comments sexual harassment in your workplace, and your employer is not acting to correct it, you need to protect yourself. The best way to protect yourself is to talk to an experienced sexual harassment attorney from the Miller Law Team today!

Miller Law Group’s dedicated attorneys want to fight for you. We can guide you through the process, from filing an EEOC complaint, to exploring state-law remedies, to litigating a claim in court.

To learn more or discuss your situation with an Employment Attorney, call 919-348-4361 or contact us online.