Important Things to Know About the At-Will Employment Doctrine in North Carolina 

Employers should comply with some laws when determining whether or not to fire an employee. For example, they can’t fire a worker due to their national origin, race, religion, or age. Also, it is illegal to violate the terms of the contract that exist between the employer and employee. Ending the employment of a worker in these situations could afford the latter the right to take legal action against their employer. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, you should seek assistance from charlotte nc employment lawyers to where you stand and what your legal options are. 

Understanding North Carolina’s At-Will Employment

North Carolina has adopted employment-at-will laws. Thus, companies in the state can fire employees at any time and for any reason unless there is a contract that specifies otherwise. Also, this is possible if there are no regulations regarding the relationship. But, some exceptions limit the rights of employers to terminate a worker in some situations. 

Exceptions to At-Will Employment

If an employer fires a worker under the exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, it will be a violation of the employment laws and victims may file a lawsuit. Employees can collect compensation like back pay, punitive damages, front pay, recompense for attorney’s fees, and reasonable accommodation through these kinds of claims. In addition, the fired employee may be reinstated to their previous jobs. The following are the exceptions that limit the rights of employers to terminate a worker in North Carolina:

  • Discrimination. The majority of wrongful termination cases include some type of discrimination. Employers are prohibited from terminating a worker based on color, race, sex, religion, natural origin, genetic information, age, or pregnancy. Also, state law specifies that employees cannot be terminated due to their military service or status.
  • Breach of contract. If there is an employment contract signed by both parties, violating the contract can lead to legal action. In some instances, this contract may dictate that employees are not at-will workers, offering them job security.
  • Retaliation. Apart from termination, the state and federal laws also prohibit other acts of retaliation such as demoting, suspending, cutting an employee’s wage, and relocating. Under such laws, employers cannot terminate employees or retaliate against them for engaging in discrimination hearings or even filing for workers’ compensation claims. 
  • Public policy. This exemption makes it illegal for companies in North Carolina to terminate an employee when doing so goes against an established public policy of the state. For instance, they cannot fire a worker for their refusal to comply with a request to do something illegal. 
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