Advocacy. Justice. Impact.

Patterson Harkavy is a North Carolina law firm advocating for the rights of workers, the injured, and the criminally accused. For over forty years, our highly respected attorneys have helped clients obtain substantial monetary awards and have won landmark cases improving the lives of all citizens of North Carolina.

Patterson Harkavy regularly litigates cases involving police misconduct, employment discrimination, workers’ compensation, organized labor, and wrongful convictions. Our attorneys are consistently chosen among the Best Lawyers in America, and the North Carolina Business Journal has ranked our lawyers among North Carolina’s “legal elite.”

We commit our expertise and resources to every client’s case. Find out how we can help today.

Focused on Your Rights

Patterson Harkavy is dedicated to fighting for civil rights and workers’ rights in North Carolina, and throughout the South. Our attorneys provide thorough, compassionate, and effective representation to employees, labor unions, criminal defendants, victims of police misconduct, and the wrongfully accused. From private negotiations with employers, to public social justice initiatives, we stand by our clients, acting as forceful and empathetic advocates on their behalf. Together, we are working to promote sustainable and meaningful change across the South.

Why Choose Us

Know Your Rights

What makes a strong civil rights case?

Civil rights cases are particularly difficult to prove. That means you need to have a strong case before you consider filing a complaint. A civil rights case is especially strong where it involves severe misconduct, resulted in substantial and documented harm, affected large numbers of people, or reflects a demonstrated pattern of behavior over time. Talk to a civil rights attorney to discuss the strength of your civil rights case.

What is illegal discrimination?

Under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for an employer with at least 15 employees to fire, refuse to hire, or make any employment decision because of your race, color, religion, sex (gender) or national origin. This includes a wide variety of employment decisions, such as compensation, shift assignments, employment benefits, privileges, promotions, and task assignments, as well as more traditional hiring and firing decisions. There are also laws protecting against age discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, and disability discrimination.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim for an injury or work-related condition?

Injuries should be reported to your employer in writing immediately or as soon as possible. Claims may be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission by completing and sending in a Form 18 to the Industrial Commission along with copies to the employer or insurer. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to complete and send in this form can help improve the chance your application for benefits will be granted.

Do I have the right to form a union at work?

Private sector employees have the right to organize and join unions under federal labor law. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is the federal law enacted in 1935 that governs the relationship between unions and private sector employers. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is the government agency charged with the administration and enforcement of the NLRA.

Section 7 of the NLRA protects the rights of employees (both union and nonunion) to form a union, and to engage in “concerted activity for mutual aid and protection.” In other words, employees have the right to engage in activity on behalf of or with one or more coworkers with the goal of improving working conditions. Examples of activity protected by Section 7 of the NLRA include:

  • talking with coworkers about your wages and benefits,
  • circulating a petition asking for better working conditions,
  • participating in a rally for better working conditions, and
  • wearing a union button if other buttons are permitted.

Section 8 of the NLRA prohibits employers and unions from engaging in “unfair labor practices” or “ULPs.” That means it is illegal for employers to interfere with or restrain employees’ Section 7 rights. For example, it is illegal for employers to:

  • discipline, constructively discharge, or discharge employees for engaging in protected union activities;
  • threaten employees with adverse consequences, such as loss of benefits, or less favorable working conditions if they support a union or engage in union activity;
  • promise employees benefits if they refrain from supporting the union;
  • interrogate employees about their own or coworkers’ union sentiments or activities;
  • prohibit employees to talk about the union during working time, if they are otherwise allowed to talk about other non-work-related subjects;
  • surveil or create the impression of surveillance of employees’ union activities.

Unions can file charges against employers for engaging in unfair labor practices (ULP charges) within six months of the unlawful conduct.

Learn More

Our Latest Posts

This month, North Carolina Law Review published an article cowritten by Patterson Harkavy partner Chris Brook on North Carolina’s state constitutional version of the Exclusionary Rule. The full article is here, and the abstract is below. The North…
This week, Jon Harkavy published his annual Supreme Court Commentary concerning the October 2020 Term of the U.S. Supreme Court. The article summarizes cases on labor and employment law issues as well as a number of non-employment decisions likely to…

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