You may be entitled to compensation if you have been discriminated against in the workplace.
In North Carolina, federal and state laws protect employees from certain disparate treatment and unlawful discrimination.
This post examines the fundamentals of employment discrimination in North Carolina so that you can be more fully informed before taking legal action.
Who Enforces North Carolina Employment Discrimination Laws?
There are two main sources of North Carolina anti-discrimination law. The first source is found at the federal level, which is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Federal law prohibits discrimination based on:
- National origin,
- Sexual orientation,
- Gender identity,
- Citizenship status, and
- Genetic information.
In addition to federal protections, North Carolina state law also protects these classes of people.
However, North Carolina has enacted additional protections for people based on their:
- Military status,
- Lawful use of products while off the clock,
- AIDS/HIV status, and
- sickle cell or hemoglobin C trait.
In North Carolina, discrimination law is enforced by the Employment Discrimination Bureau of the Department of Labor.
Which Employers Are Subject to North Carolina Discrimination Laws?
Not all employers are subject to federal and state discrimination laws. To be subject to discrimination laws, the employer must regularly employ 15 or more employees. But it is important to note that all employers are subject to the anti-discriminatory equal pay laws under federal law.
Otherwise known as the Equal Pay Act, the statute requires that men and women be paid equally for equal work. The two jobs don’t have to be exactly identical, just substantially the same.
What Is Discrimination?
Discrimination comes in many forms. Simply put, discrimination means treating someone differently or less favorably for some reason.
Some examples of discrimination include:
- Harassment by managers, co-workers, or others in the workplace based on your membership in a protected class of people;
- Unfair treatment, or being treated differently by your employer because of your membership in a protected class of people;
- Denials of reasonable accommodations, which you are entitled to because of your religious affiliation or disability;
- Improperly questioning or requiring disclosure about your disability, which can be about your genetic or medical information; and
- Retaliation, which can result after you complain about discrimination in the workplace or initiate a legal claim or an administrative charge for discrimination.
These are just some of the many forms of discrimination in the workplace.
Which Aspects of Employment Are Subject to North Carolina Discrimination Laws?
Anti-discrimination laws prohibit discrimination in almost every aspect of employment. Under North Carolina anti-discrimination laws, an employer cannot utilize a prohibited practice or policy in these areas.
It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate in job advertisements. Discriminatory job advertisements show clear preferences for one class of people over another. They can also discourage someone from applying based on their membership in a certain protected class.
Applications and Hiring
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate during the application and hiring processes. For example, it is illegal to make a hiring decision based on someone’s race, religion, sex, national origin, or age.
Job Assignments and Promotions
An employer may not make decisions about job positions, assignments, or promotions based on their membership in a certain protected class.
For instance, an employer may not give preferences to employees of a certain race or segregate the workplace. In addition, it is illegal for an employer to require employees to take aptitude tests that disfavor members of a certain race, religion, national origin, or individuals with disability.
Pay and Benefits
It is illegal for an employer to discriminate in how they pay their employees or provide benefits to their employees. Pay and benefit discrimination includes vacation time, leave, sick pay, insurance benefits, retirement benefits, and overtime pay.
Discharging or Firing
An employer cannot take someone’s race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability status into consideration when firing or discharging an employee.
For example, if an employer goes through layoffs, the employer cannot choose to terminate the oldest employees first.
Contact Our North Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyers
At EMP Law, we have experienced employment law attorneys to help you if you have been discriminated against at work. Our firm promises to give you the zealous representation you deserve when pursuing a legal claim.
If you would like to schedule a consultation, you can reach us by phone at (336) 724-2828 or fill out our online form. In addition, we have offices conveniently located in Winston-Salem and Charlotte.