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North Carolina Legal Issues Blog

The limits to free speech at work

People often misinterpret the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to mean that they have freedom of speech in all aspects of their lives. The First Amendment prohibits people from facing arrest (with some exceptions, of course) for voicing their opinions. However, it doesn't prohibit private employers from taking disciplinary action (including termination) against employees for saying things that others may rightfully find offensive or that involve protected or confidential information.

Employers have some legal restrictions in taking action against employees for matters involving speech. For example, if disciplining or firing someone for something they say or discuss could be considered discrimination against them for their race, religion or other characteristic protected by the law, that could be prohibited. Taking disciplinary action against an employee for speaking a language other than English during their lunch or rest breaks could be a problem.

Common reasons North Carolina construction companies get sued

Owners often hire construction companies to build their houses or office buildings or to renovate existing properties. Many of them take their time to ask for proof of licensing and insurance and to request work references before they hire them. This isn't always good enough though. Even with customers proceed cautiously, they often encounter problems that result in them having to file a lawsuit against their contractor.

Individuals often end up filing a lawsuit against the construction company that they hire is because they fail to complete the project in a timely fashion or to keep it on budget.

How much is a sexual harassment claim worth?

If you sue a company because you suffered sexual harassment in the workplace, the most you can get in damages under federal law is $300,000. That's a pittance to large corporations. However, that's the cap written into the Civil Rights Act of 1991's Title VII, where sexual harassment is addressed. That amount hasn't been adjusted for inflation in the decades since that law was implemented -- even as the long-term repercussions for victims have become more openly discussed and better understood.

One Vanderbilt University law professor decided to determine just how much sexual harassment should cost those found liable for it. Her answer was $7.6 million. How did she come up with that statistical value?

Recent sexual harassment poll has some surprising findings

Sexual harassment in the workplace has received increasing attention in recent years -- in part thanks to the #Metoo movement, which took down some major players in entertainment, like Harvey Weinstein, and other industries. So why does a recent Gallup poll show that men in this country are less concerned about workplace harassment now than they were two years ago when that movement grabbed international headlines?

First, let's look at some of the key findings of the survey that was done in February of this year. When asked if they thought sexual harassment of women in the workplace was a major or minor problem, 53 percent of men said it was a major problem. That's down from 66 percent in October 2017. Among women, 70 percent said it was a major problem -- down just slightly from 73 percent in October 2017.

Major companies can't afford to ignore sex harassment claims

For better and worse, large corporations in America tend to set the workplace standards that other companies emulate. Unfortunately, one of America’s largest and best-known companies chose to send the wrong message about sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.

Google has received widespread criticism from employees and the public alike for the manner in which it parted ways with two high-level employees accused of sexual misconduct. Both men were allowed to leave quietly with huge payouts.

What is a hostile work environment?

Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. And these rights extend beyond the physical environment. They also include an employee's rights against workplace harassment and discrimination.

Persistent harassment, regardless of the type, can create a hostile work environment. However, how do you know if you are working in a hostile workplace? 

How to respond to sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment is unacceptable behavior, especially in the workplace. If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, there are actions you can take to stop the problem. However, it is important that you do not wait too long to act because a Charge of Employment Discrimination, if it comes to that, must be filed within the first 180 days after the act of sexual harassment.

Request that the actions stop

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