North Carolina is an at-will employment state. That means that employers have broad discretion when it comes to terminating your employment. Even so, your employer cannot violate the law. Below are some situations which could warrant a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you believe any of the following situations apply, you should speak with a experienced North Carolina employment attorney as soon as possible.
1. Discrimination: Federal law protects employees from discrimination based on age, disability, sex, ethnicity, race, religion, pregnancy or genetic information. North Carolina offers additional protection from discrimination to employees based on HIV/AIDs status, military service, sickle cell anemia and use of lawful products such as prescription medication when you are not working. Typically, anti-discrimination laws are effective for companies that employ 15 or more employees.
2. Retaliation: An employer cannot fire you in retaliation for filing a discrimination lawsuit, blowing the whistle or reporting illegal activities to a governmental agency.
3. Violation of Public Policy: An employer cannot fire you for exercising certain legal rights. For instance, under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), you may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid time each year if you are seriously ill, a family member is seriously ill or you need to care for a new child. Additionally, you are entitled to unpaid leave to serve on a jury. Once you return from either, you are entitled to be reinstated to your previous position.
4. Check Your Employment Contract: Even though North Carolina is an at-will employment state, your employment contract governs your relationship with your employer and vice versa. If your employer violated a term or provision in the contract, such as failing to provide notice before firing you, you may be able to sue for wrongful termination.
Wrongful termination lawsuits can be tricky. You should collect as much documentation and evidence as you can. Retain a copy of all written communications between you and your employer. Additionally, it is important to conduct yourself professionally despite your employer’s conduct. Most importantly, you should speak with an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you have been or are about to be wrongfully terminated.
If you believe you are about to be or already have been wrongfully terminated, speak with a knowledgeable employment attorney today to find out your rights.
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