WAKE FOREST, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The high profile sexual harassment cases from Hollywood to Capitol Hill continue to provoke serious discussion about women's safety in the workplace and what can be done to encourage better behavior.
The ABC11 I-Team on Thursday is bringing that conversation to women professionals in the Triangle, who lament that two weeks will not quickly undo decades - if not centuries - of a certain culture.
"My role models were men, and you don't see men coming forward and complaining about how other people interact with them," Marcy Stahl, Co-President of Business & Professional Women of the Triangle organization, recalls to ABC11. "If the culture of the entire company from top is not aligned with supporting women's rights, then it's hard to make headway."
Stahl spent more than two decades working in male-dominated industries of defense and technology. She remembers being groped herself, but only years later did she come forward when she saw other women being harassed.
"I felt safe in my position (as partner), so they needed my help," Stahl says. "There's a special camaraderie that can come with women who-workers talking to each other and understanding their experiences."
Under federal law, Sexual Harassment falls under the umbrella of Sex Discrimination and Title XII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the Equal Employment Opportuntity Commission, harassment includes "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature."
The definition also maintains "victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex."
In our wide ranging interview, Stahl expresses her most serious concern about not topping harassment before it crosses the line into sexual assault. "With harassment, you find a new work environment, you move on and you feel better about yourself. Sexual assault is so much more difficult for the woman psychologically there are issues with safety and intimacy."
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Stein confirms to the I-Team there is no statute of limitations on felony sex crimes in North Carolina, while the statement of limitations on misdemeanor sex crimes is 2 years. Title VII claims Must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the conduct, unless the claims also includes a state or local anti-discrimination law and then the time period is 300 days.
"I do hope that there's a generational shift that the younger generation is brought up to embracing equality," Stahl adds, "But thousands of years of sexual harassment isn't going away so quickly."
Here is a list of important resources available:
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: 1-800-669-4000
National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
National Organization for Victim Assistance: 800-879-6682
National Association of Working Women: 1-800-522-0925
Equal Rights Advocates: 415-621-0505
National Center for Victims of Crime: 1-800-FYI-CALL
National Street Harassment Hotline: 855-897-5910