It was a beautiful spring day and you decided to take your motorcycle out for a ride to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte,
If you or a loved one were recently laid off or fired for illegal reasons, you might be wondering if you can file a wrongful termination suit. North Carolina employment laws have made filing a wrongful termination claim a complicated process. Winning a wrongful termination lawsuit is even more challenging. Our Charlotte, North Carolina, employment law attorneys have experience representing dozens of wrongfully terminated clients and getting the compensation and benefits they deserve.
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What Is Considered Wrongful Termination in Charlotte, North Carolina?
In Charlotte, North Carolina, federal and state employment laws identify specific instances where an employee’s termination or firing is considered wrongful or illegal. These instances fall within four areas: in violation of anti-discrimination laws, in violation of anti-retaliation laws, a breach of employment contract, and in violation of public policy. If an employer terminates an employee under these circumstances, it will violate employment laws, and the employer may be vulnerable to a lawsuit.
Federal and state law prevents an employer from terminating a worker based on the following:
- Race, ethnicity, or national origin.
- Sex, gender, or gender identity.
- Sexual orientation.
- HIV/AIDS status.
- Military service.
Just as state and federal law protect workers from discrimination, the laws also protect employees from retaliation for exercising their legal rights. Federal law also prohibits retaliation for the following reasons:
- Taking Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Filing a workplace discrimination claim.
- Taking part in employment law violation investigations.
- Filing a sexual harassment claim.
North Carolina employment law specifically prohibits retaliation such as suspending, demoting, or cutting workers’ wages, for participation in protected activities, including the following:
- Filing an equal pay or wage and hour complaint.
- Reporting illegal employer actions and behaviors, such as discrimination or safety violations.
- Cooperating with investigators looking into workplace violations.
Breach of Employment Contract
Charlotte employers that sign an employment contract with an employee cannot legally terminate an employee in a manner that violates the employment contract. Most employment contracts detail the terms of employment, including the length of employment, job duties, and under what circumstance the employment relationship ends. Employment contracts are legal documents, and violating or breaching them can lead to legal action.
Public Policy Reasons
Employers cannot legally terminate employees in a manner that violates public policy. This public policy exception to the state’s at-will employment law prohibits employers from terminating an employee for complying with a legally required duty such as:
- Attending jury duty.
- Active military duty (including the reserves).
- Participating in court proceedings.
What Does It Mean That Charlotte Follows At-Will Employment?
North Carolina is an at-will employment state. An employer and employee can end the employment relationship at any time, with very few exceptions. Employers can fire employees for “being a bad fit” or “restructuring.” Employers can terminate an employee for any reason that is not illegal or blatantly unfair.
Being an at-will employment state makes it difficult for Charlotte residents to win a wrongful termination lawsuit. However, if an employer terminates you in violation of a law or contract, you may be able to sue for wrongful termination.
How Do You Prove Wrongful Termination in Charlotte?
To be successful in a wrongful termination suit against your employer, you will need to prove that your employer discriminated against you, breached your contract, or retaliated against you. You will need to collect evidence to prove or support your case.
Common pieces of evidence used to support discrimination, retaliation, or other illegal employer behavior includes:
- A demonstration that you are a member of a protected class and your employer fired or demoted you or others because of your protected status.
- Documentation showing discriminatory or retaliatory employer practices.
- A demonstration that employers’ actions do not have valid or legal reasons.
What Type of Compensation Can You Recover in a Wrongful Termination Case?
In successful wrongful termination cases, employees have recovered the following:
- Lost wages and benefits, including any back pay, vacation and sick time, and medical benefits.
- Economic and punitive damages, including costs for job searching and pain and suffering.
- Attorney’s fees, court costs, and expert witness fees.
An employment or wrongful termination attorney can help you maximize your compensation.
When to Take and Not Take a Severance Package?
In some wrongful termination cases, fired employees may receive a severance package offer. A severance package is a combination of pay and benefits offered to employees when they are laid off or terminated. The amount of money received in a severance package typically follows from the length of your employment, unused vacation, and other paid time off (PTO). To receive your severance package, most employers require you to sign a separation agreement that includes a provision where you agree not to sue for wrongful termination.
Suppose you believe that your former employer has terminated you or laid you off due to financial hardships or your termination was legally justified. In that case, it may be better for you to accept the severance package to ensure compensation to cover your needs.
In another scenario, suppose you believe that your employer terminated you in violation of a state or federal law or your employment contract. In that case, it may be in your best interest to consult with a wrongful termination attorney before signing the severance agreement and accepting the severance.
What Are the Steps in Filing a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit in Charlotte?
Depending on the reasons for your wrongful termination, the steps you take in filing your lawsuit will vary. Regardless of whether your employer fired you for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons or in violation of an employment contract, you should take some basic steps as soon as you are terminated, including:
- Gather and review your employment contract, employee handbook, and any other documentation you’ve received from your employer.
- Ask why you were terminated and who made the decision to fire you. Request the employer to put the information in writing.
- Request to view your personnel file.
- Request and negotiate a severance package. Confirm all agreements regarding your termination and severance in writing.
- Obtain witness statements from prior co-workers who might have witnessed wrongful conduct.
- Contact an experienced Charlotte wrongful termination attorney.
If you’ve been terminated for discriminatory reasons, you must file your lawsuit with the Charlotte Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office within 180 days of the wrongful termination.
If you’ve been terminated for retaliatory reasons, you must contact the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Bureau to file your complaint within 300 days of the wrongful termination.
Breach of Contract
If you’ve been terminated in violation of an employment contract, you can file your lawsuit in court within three years of the wrongful termination.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Handle a Wrongful Termination Case in Charlotte?
Like a substantial part of employment law contexts, wrongful termination cases can be complex and time-consuming, considering the various laws, agencies, deadlines, and forms involved. A skilled and knowledgeable Charlotte wrongful termination attorney can help you successfully navigate the system.
Suppose your wrongful termination case does not follow from a violation of federal or state employment laws, or you do not have an employment contract. In that case, you should consult with a Charlotte wrongful termination attorney.
Suppose your wrongful termination case follows from a violation of federal or state employment laws. In that case, you are likely to receive assistance with your claim from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or North Carolina Department of Labor Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Bureau.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your wrongful termination suit, obtaining legal representation from experienced employment or wrongful termination lawyers will be able to assess your case and improve your chances of receiving compensation.
How Much Does a Wrongful Termination Attorney Cost in Charlotte, North Carolina?
Our Charlotte, North Carolina, wrongful termination lawyers work on a contingency basis. We don’t bill you by the hour or ask for large payments upfront. Instead, we only get paid if we successfully recover compensation in your case. The attorneys take a percentage of any settlement or court award to cover fees and costs.
Contact Our Charlotte, North Carolina, Wrongful Termination Lawyers
If you or your loved one needs assistance pursuing a wrongful termination claim in Charlotte, North Carolina, let the employment lawyers at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, P.C., help you get the compensation and benefits you deserve. With more than 15 years of experience providing employment law representation to the residents of North Carolina, we passionately fight to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve regardless of the complexity of your case.
Contact us online or visit our Charlotte office:
301 S McDowell St #1016
Charlotte, NC 28204