Wrongful Termination in North Carolina

What Is Wrongful Termination?

While an employer does have discretion over the hiring and firing of employees, there are certain circumstances where a worker can file for wrongful termination. Termination becomes wrongful when it violates North Carolina law, federal law, or an employment agreement. Being fired from a job is never easy. A dedicated wrongful termination lawyer understands your rights as an employee and will fight to protect them.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, employers can terminate employees at any time, and for any reason. There are, however, a few exceptions that could result in a claim of wrongful termination. Some of the most common exceptions are terminations that are discriminatory, or a breach of contract. Employers also cannot fire you as a way of retaliation for certain actions under protection of the law.

Types Of Wrongful Termination

In North Carolina, there are many different instances where wrongful termination can take place. In some cases, an employer is ignorant of labor laws and may not even realize they have erred. This is why big corporations rely on human resources experts. You should always turn to an attorney if you suspect you have been wrongfully terminated. In the following paragraphs are some of the red flags that you should watch out for.

Limitations of At-Will Employment

Because one of the most common forms of employment is at-will, there are limitations to this. At-will employment doesn’t allow an employer to fire a person for any discriminatory reason. North Carolina state, federal, or local laws prohibit these reasons.

Because North Carolina has Right to Work laws, there is an additional exception to the at-will doctrine. North Carolina employers cannot fire you for refusing to join a union or pay any union dues or fees. In fact, North Carolina has been a Right to Work state since 1947.

An employer also can’t fire an employee as a form of retaliation for reporting any illegal activities within the company. Were you fired for any of these reasons? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.

Discrimination

Discrimination is one of the most common forms of wrongful termination. When an employee is fired because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, age, or disability, it violates established laws meant to protect specific personal characteristics. There are also some states that prohibit employers from discriminating based on the gender identity or the sexual orientation of their employees.

If you believe that you have been penalized or fired in North Carolina  for one of these discriminatory reasons listed above, you may be able to file a claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An experienced North Carolina attorney can walk you through the process to help ensure the best possible outcome.

Retaliation

Your employer can’t fire you for certain protected activities. For example, your employer can’t fire you for taking medical leave, or for participating in an investigation of job violations and wage violations. Additionally, filing a complaint with the EEOC, or informing your employer about discrimination or harassment, are not fireable offenses. 

North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act prohibits the termination of an employee on the basis of certain protected activities. Some of these include:

  • Reporting health and safety issues
  • Reporting wage and hour violations
  • Testing for or carrying certain genetic traits, such as sickle cell anemia
  • Participating in the National Guard

There are some states that also prevent employee termination for taking time off to vote, perform jury duties, or serve in the military. You also have some protection if your employer has fired you for reporting a violation of safety laws or environmental regulations.

What To Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated in North Carolina

Have you been wrongfully terminated? You may be entitled to compensatory damages, reinstatement, back pay, and other forms of relief. However, the exact definition of wrongful termination will depend on where you live. To find out, contact a dedicated and qualified wrongful termination lawyer. Discuss your circumstances and the North Carolina laws that your employer has to follow in your area.

Remember that there are usually time constraints on how long you can wait to file your claim, so don’t delay. This could cause evidence to slip through your fingers or you may miss the deadline altogether. You want a favorable outcome and so will your lawyer, so try to approach your case as proactively as possible, even before you are certain you have one.

You must file a federal discrimination claim within a 180 day time limit, but you may have up to  to 300 days if the violation is also subject to  state law. However, you can file other wrongful termination claims in North Carolina for up to 3 years after your firing.

Step One: Gather Evidence

It’s important to start gathering all the evidence you can, no matter how small. Ideally, you had reason to suspect that your employer might terminate you wrongfully and started the process some time before. If you need to return to the office to clear out your desk or still have access to the work email, use the opportunity wisely. However, be mindful of any employment agreements or confidentiality issues.

Step Two: Find an Attorney

Hiring an experienced North Carolina wrongful termination lawyer will help you take the first steps so that you make a strong case to get the outcome you seek. North Carolina employment laws are intricate and are constantly changing. Therefore, you should always work with an attorney who focuses on this specific area.

Step Three: File a Complaint

If you have not yet had your case reviewed by an attorney, the EEOC built a self-evaluation tool to help you decide if filing a claim with them is an appropriate way to handle your case. An attorney simplifies this part of the process by helping you to write the complaint. You serve your employer notice. Then, the resolution process starts there. Note that not all cases make it to a courtroom as some employers prefer to settle.

According to the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), you must file most employment discrimination claims in North Carolina federally. However, state and county employees can file directly with the OAH Civil Rights Division. Private employees can file with the EEOC through the Charlotte District Office, which also has area offices in Raleigh and Greensboro.

Why You Should Hire A Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit in North Carolina can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer. Speaking to an experienced lawyer can help you to understand what legal rights you have as a victim and if your case is applicable for wrongful termination. For some people, the opportunity to finally be heard also helps to ease the burden they’ve been carrying.

We understand that finding the right attorney can be hard. This is why we created our service to connect clients in need with experienced North Carolina attorneys. To match with the right lawyer, you simply provide your location, category, and some other additional information. We then send you your options as soon as they are available.

Our company charges no fees to connect you with the legal services you need. Some North Carolina attorneys or practice areas may require legal fees upfront, but there are many that do not. Some professionals may not charge a single penny at all until they win your case.

Are you ready to find a qualified North Carolina attorney who can help you fight for your job or get justice for the wrongful termination you suffered? We can even help you connect with an attorney across North Carolina state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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