Financial and employment security is vital to having a stable life and providing for yourself and your loved ones. An employer who fires you for illegal reasons jeopardizes that stability, and you may have a legal claim against them.
You can file a wrongful termination lawsuit in North Carolina to enforce your rights and receive fair compensation.
At EMP Law, we zealously advocate for employee rights throughout North Carolina. Our experienced wrongful termination lawyers hold employers responsible when they fail to treat their employees fairly or fire them for illegal reasons.
With offices in Winston-Salem and Charlotte, we serve employees throughout North Carolina.
Overview of Wrongful Termination in North Carolina
Broadly speaking, wrongful termination occurs when your boss fires you for an illegal reason or without following the proper legal procedure. The applicable state and federal law and employment contract terms determine if the reason or procedure is illegal.
Most employment relationships are at-will, meaning that you or the company can end the employment relationship for any reason and with little to no notice. You can have an at-will employment relationship, even if you enter into an employment contract.
The work agreement between you and your boss can provide restrictions on when or if the company can terminate you and the procedure they must follow. Many contracts are kept fairly open-ended to limit the employer’s potential liability. Remember that your employer does not have to give you advance notice of a decision to fire you unless it is in a contract.
Because the default is that the employer had the right to fire the employee, it can be difficult to prove wrongful termination cases. If you think your employer illegally dismissed you from your job, you may benefit from talking to an attorney well-versed in this area of the law.
What Laws Protect Me Against NC Wrongful Termination?
As we said, wrongful termination is when an employer fires an employee for illegal reasons or without following the proper legal procedure. Federal and NC termination laws indicate what is and is not an acceptable reason to fire an employee.
Federal Civil Rights Laws
A host of federal laws protect employees against discrimination in the workplace. Likewise, these laws make it illegal for an employer to terminate or constructively discharge an employee for discriminatory reasons.
Laws that prohibit discrimination include the following:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, and religion in the workplace;
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits workplace discrimination based on age when the employee is 40 or older; and
- Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits workplace discrimination because of someone’s physical or mental disability.
The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is responsible for enforcing these and other workplace laws at the federal level.
North Carolina Employment Termination Laws
North Carolina also has firing laws in place to protect employees from discrimination. These laws typically apply to state employees and applicants and those who work for an employer with 15 or more employees.
North Carolina protects workers against discrimination based on age, race, color, sex, ethnic origin, and genetic information. Additionally, North Carolina protects workers against losing their jobs because they lawfully took time off (such as paid or unpaid parental or sick leave).
Further, if you legally took time off to obtain a court order or protection against domestic violence, North Carolina law prohibits your employer from firing you for doing so.
North Carolina also shields you against losing your job because you informally or formally reported or helped someone else report a workplace violation.
Common Examples of Violations of NC Termination Laws
Even though there are extensive laws in place to protect workers against wrongful termination, employers still break the law every day.
Examples of a violation of North Carolina firing laws include the following:
- Firing an employee with a good performance history because of their race or national origin;
- Firing a pregnant employee when they return from maternity leave, and they do not have a history of performance issues;
- Laying off a well-performing employee because of their age;
- Letting go of a good employee after they ask for a raise; and
- Terminating an employment relationship with an employee after they decline sexual advances or complain about sexual harassment.
These are just some situations that may constitute wrongful termination in North Carolina. For specific questions about your case, it is a good idea to talk to a qualified employment attorney to understand and protect your rights.
How Can I Sue for Wrongful Termination in NC?
You may file a claim for wrongful termination if your employer fired you for illegal reasons. An attorney can help you gather the appropriate evidence that you need to prove and file the claim.
Depending on your situation, you may file a claim with the applicable state court or a government agency, such as the EEOC.
Contact Our Wrongful Termination Attorneys in North Carolina
EMP Law provides compassionate and diligent legal representation to North Carolina’s workers. With more than 140 years of combined experience, we have been fighting for employees’ rights to work free from discrimination or harassment.