The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act prohibits an employers from discriminating on the basis of disability, color, race, religion, national origin, age, or gender. It is also illegal in this jurisdiction for an employer to discriminate on the basis of traits for sickle cell or hemoglobin C, or other genetic information.
With regard to AIDS or HIV conditions, an employer may require applicants to take an HIV test as a condition of employment and employers may refuse to hire based upon a positive test result. However, employers may not test or discriminate against current employees. Generally, a lawsuit on such matters must be filed within 180 days of the discrimination.
Local ordinances may also prohibit discrimination, and New Hanover County, for instance, does have such an ordinance. Federal statutes exist which provide additional protections against workplace discrimination.
Creating a hostile workplace is against the law in North Carolina as in other jurisdictions. However, the label is somewhat of a misnomer. "Hostility," such as being berated by one's supervisor, will often be found not to meet the legal standard for an illegally hostile workplace. The type of scenario which has most often, but not exclusively, been found to qualify as an illegal hostile workplace is that involving sincere unsolicited sexual advances made to an employee.
Most of these claims need to be brought first to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You may bring the claim to the Commission on your own, or you can ask an attorney to assist you at that initial stage. Whether the Commission finds there are grounds to believe the law has been violated or not, you will receive a "right-to-sue" letter. I will be glad to evaluate your case at any of these stages, and determine whether I could be of assistance.
There are state and federal statutes, each entitled the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act, which protect employees who file certain types of claims. The North Carolina "REDA" statute protects employees who in good faith engage in one of the "protected activities" under the law. N.C. REDA protects a wide number of areas and individuals, including wage and hour issues, workplace safety rights, mine safety and health, and sickle cell and hemoglobin C carriers. N.C. REDA also applies to areas covering genetic testing, National Guard service, juvenile justice system, domestic violence, pesticide exposure and employees reporting activities of their employers under the Paraphernalia Control Act. The federal statute provides similar protections. State claims generally need to be filed first with the N.C. Department of Labor, and federal claims need to be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. An attorney can assist you with determining which is the appropriate forum. Each will issue a "right-to-sue" letter indicating whether they found cause to believe that the law had been violated. I have experience with presenting and defending these claims before the Department of Labor, and if necessary, evaluating the best course upon receipt of a "right-to-sue" letter.
Wage and Hour Claims.
As with retaliation, there are state and federal statutes which protect a worker's right to a fair wage. The primary statute on this topic is the Fair Labor Standards Act. Both the state and federal statute provide, among other things, that an employee, other than one who is exempt due to managerial or other similar status, must be paid time and a half, for any hours worked above 40 per work week. One who believes his or her employer has violated these statutes may file a complaint with the North Carolina or federal Department of Labor. The claim may be resolved through a compromise during the pendency of the Department of Labor process. If not, a "right-to-sue" letter will be issued, and then the employee must decide whether there is enough at stake, and whether the claim has enough merit, to pursue a lawsuit. I have experience with these processes, and will be glad to discuss your case, and evaluate whether I may be of assistance.
Whether you are an employee considering a claim, or an employer defending one, there are often specific, and short, timelines & deadlines associated with these claims, and so do not delay contacting the appropriate agency or an attorney if you think you may need assistance.