Wrongful Discharge in North Carolina
While many terminations may be wrongful, North Carolina law only allows claims for certain types of "wrongful" terminations. This summary will guide you through those types of situations and give you an idea of what types of wrongful terminations may be actionable.
Discrimination & HarassmentTerminations motivated by race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or handicap are discriminatory and serve as the basis for a claim, as long as the employer had at least 14 other employees. Terminations based on sex, race, ethnic origin, or by reason of religious affiliation may be actionable even if your employe had less than 15 employees.
If you complain about any of these types of harassment and are terminated soon after, illegal retaliation may be to blame. Federal law would certainly provide a claim for you in these types of situations.
Federal law will also protect you from harassment based on these immutable characteristics. This is known as a "hostile work environment." While many employment atmospheres or supervisors may be hostile, it is only when the harassment or hostility is based on one of the things listed above that the law provides a remedy.
Refusal to Break the LawNorth Carolina law also makes it illegal for an employer to terminate an employee for refusing to break the law in some way. Examples includes situations where employers have terminated employees for: (a) refusing to lie in court to protect the company; (b) refusing to break industry safety rules; (c) refusing to falsify records; (d) refusing to accept illegal working conditions; and (e) refusing to violate debt collection laws.
This list is not exhaustive and you may have a claim if you have refused to break other types of state law.
WhistleblowingNorth Carolina law also provides a claim if you are fired because you complain or threaten to make a claim about your employer violating many types of state law, including: (a) wage laws; (b) workers' compensation laws; (c) OSHA; (d) National Guard Service; (d) pesticide laws; or (e) drug laws.
Other Illegal Reasons to TerminateNorth Carolina provides a claim any time someone is terminated for a reason that offends the public policy of the state. This has been found to include cases where the employee was fired for the following:
Objecting to unsafe working conditions
Objecting to illegal pay practices
Filing (or threatening to file) a complaint with a government agency
Reporting corruption to public officials
Adhering to professional standards of practice
Filing criminal charges
Cooperating in a criminal investigation
Refusing to violate debt collection laws
Opposing activity that violates federal law or defrauds the federal government;
Taking time off for a child's school activities
Taking time off to obtain a protective order