Have You Been Fired or Is Your Job on The Line?
Most private sector employees in North Carolina are employed “at-will.” This means that an employer generally has the right to terminate an employee at any time, without notice, and for no reason. However, there are three exceptions to this rule: (1) breaches of employment contracts; (2) unlawful discrimination; and (3) violations of certain public policies.
Companies often enter into agreements with executives and other high-level employees to set forth the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. These agreements specify the duration of employment or restrict the reasons for terminating employment. If an employer violates an agreement, the employee has a legal cause of action for breach of contract.
Federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibit unlawful employment termination based on sex, pregnancy, race/color, national origin, religion, disability, age, and sexual orientation/gender identity. The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) also prohibits termination for exercising FMLA rights.
Under Title VII, the ADA, and the ADEA, private sector employees must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 calendar days of a discriminatory action. You will forfeit important legal rights if you do not file a timely charge with the EEOC. Different deadlines apply to the filing complaints about FMLA violations. If you’ve already missed a deadline, call to discuss your options.
North Carolina also has laws pertaining to employment termination. The state common law doctrine known as Wrongful Discharge Against Public Policy (WDPP) prohibits employers from firing an employee because of the employee’s sex, race/color, national origin, religion, disability, or age. WDPP also prohibits employers from terminating an employee for the following: refusing to violate a law; reporting an illegal activity such as filing an assault charge; and participating in a role protected by public policy such as serving on a jury or testifying in court.
Under North Carolina statutory law, the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) prohibits employers from terminating employees for asserting their rights under certain state laws. See the Retaliation page of this website for more details.
Rich represents individuals from across North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Wilmington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Charlotte, and more. He is available to meet with prospective clients outside of Chapel Hill when circumstances permit. Evening appointments are also available.