If you have been fired, that is one of the most stressful experiences that a human being can have. It can feel like a punch in the stomach to be told that you no longer have a job.
Our wrongful termination lawyers have counseled and represented many clients over the years who were wrongfully terminated from their jobs, and we can help you with the questions you may have.
Maybe you haven’t lost your job yet, but your supervisor is threatening you with termination if you don’t change something about your performance. Our employment lawyers regularly meet with employees who are worried they are about to lose their jobs. We can answer your questions and help you decide if you should change your performance, look for another job, or take some other step.
Questions to think about before you see an attorney for wrongful termination of employment:
- What reason were you given for losing your job or your job being threatened?
- Did you listen to all your employer’s expectations and do your best to meet them without question?
- Is there some reason other than performance that you think you were fired or threatened with termination?
- Could your employer have violated the law, or North Carolina public policy when it fired you or disciplined you?
- Are you a member of a labor union? (If so, you will have special job protections that other employees don’t have.)
- Did you have an employment contract that gave you specific terms of employment?
The law of wrongful termination in North Carolina
North Carolina is an “employment at will” state. That means that you serve at the will of the employer and the employer can let you go for any reason, as long as it’s not an unlawful reason. For example, if your employer wants everyone in the workplace to get along and not get into arguments, it’s perfectly lawful for the employer to enforce that policy and not allow people who get into arguments to keep working for him.
But even though this is an at-will state, there are federal and state laws that protect employees from being terminated, and give them rights if they are terminated or if the conditions of their employment change.
Laws that protect you against unlawful termination from employment in NC
Wrongful termination includes firing employees based on:
- The employee’s refusal to do something that violates the public policy of the state, such as testifying against the employer in court,
Sides v. Duke Hosp., 74 N.C. App. 331, 328 S.E.2d 818 (1985)
- The employee’s race, religion, color, national origin, age, biological sex or disability [handicap], C. Gen. Stat. § 143-422.2
- Complaining about discrimination or sexual harassment
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim, C. Gen. Stat. § 95-241(a)(1)(a)
- Complaining about not paying overtime or minimum wage, C. Gen. Stat. § 95-241(a)(1)(b)
- Complaining about unsafe working conditions, C. Gen. Stat. § 95-241(a)(1)(b)
- Discussing joining a union even if there is not a union, National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 151-169
- Complaining about fraud in a publicly traded company, Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 18 U.S.C. § 1514A
These are a few of the laws that give you protection from being terminated from your job.
There may be other legal reasons that apply to your specific case, and a good attorney for wrongful termination of employment can help you by investigating the facts of your specific case and advising you about your options.
There are time limits on how long you have to bring a claim for wrongful termination. If you are believe you were terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim, complaining about safety in the workplace, or complaining about your wages, that claim has to be filed first with the North Carolina Department of Labor, or you may not be able to pursue it at all.
The new law commonly referred to as “HB2” shortened the time limit to bring a state law claim for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, and you may need to act quickly to protect your legal rights.
Our experienced employment lawyers regularly handle claims for wrongful termination and can advise you about the steps you need to take to protect your rights.
Here is just a sampling of the clients our lawyers have helped with wrongful termination cases:
- A healthcare facility manager complained to his bosses about unsafe conditions and was fired after he complained
- A nursing supervisor was fired after she complained about poor patient care by the staff
- An employee was fired after complaining about race and sex discrimination in her workplace
- A woman who was fired after a friend posted to a Facebook comment that her supervisor believed to be critical
An experienced wrongful termination lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and the steps you need to take to protect your rights. We can also file a lawsuit if we think that is warranted. Short of a lawsuit, we often negotiate with former employers to get matters resolved.
If you have been fired from your job and believe your termination was a wrongful termination, or if you believe you are in danger of losing your job, call us or fill out an online contact form today.