Employment Rights Questions

What is an employment case?

An employment case can be any legal matter arising out of employment, other than an accident at work, which would fall under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. If you have been physically injured at work, please visit our Workers’ Compensation page for guidance. While some people who have had difficulties with their employer may need an attorney to file a lawsuit on their behalf, others may simply need legal advice or guidance in understanding their rights.

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How do I know if I have an employment case?

A termination or other employment action that seems unfair may or may not be illegal. North Carolina is an “at-will” employment state, meaning an employer does not have to have a reason to fire employees. However, an employer cannot fire an employee for an illegal reason.

Whether an employer’s reason for an employment action is legal or illegal depends on (1) the particular facts and circumstances of your situation and (2) whether there is a law (statutory or case law) that makes that particular action illegal.

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What laws regulate employer behavior?

Many federal, state, and local laws govern the interaction between employers and their employees. Some of the laws frequently violated include:

  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
  • The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
  • Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970
  • Sarbanes-Oxley Act
  • North Carolina State Personnel Act
  • North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA)
  • North Carolina Wage and Hour Act

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What is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws and investigates workplace discrimination claims. The deadline for filing a claim with the EEOC is usually 180 days from the date of the discriminatory action. You can find information about the EEOC athttp://www.eeoc.gov/.

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Do I need a lawyer to file a complaint with the EEOC?

Although many employees pursue EEOC claims without an attorney, an attorney may be able to provide valuable assistance in negotiating the EEOC process. Also, if the EEOC issues a right-to-sue letter, the 90-day time limit for filing a claim in federal court may make it difficult to find an attorney at that time.

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Are public employees covered by the same laws as private employees?

State and Federal employees have some protections that employees in the private sector do not have. However, government employees are often subject to stricter timelines for filing complaints, so consulting with an attorney in a timely manner is critical.

Links to other public agencies:

  • United States Department of Labor: http://www.dol.gov/
  • North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings: http://www.oah.state.nc.us/
  • Occupational Safety and Health Administration: http://www.osha.gov/

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