My employer informed me I was terminated for violating county policy. A co worker had filed complaints of a hostile work environment. The person who made the complaint I had recently reported to my superiors for inappropriate behavior. Ironically shortly after these complaints come out and she was able to hand pick her witnesses to substantiate her complaint rather than interviewing the entire shift. It should also be noted the complaintiff has also been witnessed making inappropriate remarks. I was not given any specific dates or times of video footage of these incidents or even the name or names of the subjects who were interviewed to verify the complaints.
Most employees of counties in North Carolina are employed at-will. That means there is no liability for the employer for any employment action unless there is an unlawful motive for the action taken against you. There are generally only two forms of unlawful motives: unlawful discrimination or unlawful retaliation. Discrimination in employment is unlawful if it is due to race, color, sex, national origin, religion, disability or age 40 or older. Retaliation in employment is unlawful only if you engaged in one of a handful of "legally protected" activities and were fired for engaging in that activity. If either of these was the motive for the termination, then you may have a claim for unlawful termination.
If either of these were the motivation for your termination, you may have a legal claim for unlawful termination. Additionally, if you were one of the very few county employees (such as permanent full-time DSS), who is a "just cause" employee, then you may have a right to challenge the termination via the Office of Administrative Hearings. If you are such an employee, the county would have been required to advise you of the right to proceed at the OAH.
Kirk J. Angel, licensed in NC and TN, is an experienced attorney who focuses his practice on employment law. Mr. Angel, who has practiced employment law for more than 20 years, represents clients throughout North Carolina, Eastern and Middle Tennessee including federal employees. This response is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, this response does not create an attorney client relationship. If you need legal advice, please contact a lawyer in your state who practices in the appropriate area.
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