Wrongful Termination in North Carolina2021-03-25T16:46:55-05:00

Wrongful Termination in North Carolina

Falling victim to a wrongful termination from your place of employment is a painful experience. Being fired on short notice, or without any reasonable explanation, feels wrong and unfair.

Employees in North Carolina play a major role in the aerospace, automotive and manufacturing industries, among countless others. The state’s economy hinges on the contributions of its residents and their ability to work in an environment where they are free from predatory or discriminatory employment practices, including wrongful discharge.

The attorneys at Herrmann & Murphy have expertise in North Carolina’s employment laws. We are uniquely qualified to handle your wrongful termination case and will aggressively fight on your behalf to obtain justice. Contact our firm today to learn more about possible remedies you may be entitled to for compensation.

What is At-Will Employment?

At-will employment means employers can choose to terminate an employee at any time, for any reason which is not illegal under federal or North Carolina state law. At-will employment is considered the norm in the United States. This doctrine also offers the freedom for workers to terminate their employment at any time, for any reason which is not illegal.

There are several important exceptions to at-will employment in North Carolina. In certain circumstances, firing an employee can violate employment laws. This type of legal claim is referred to as wrongful termination or wrongful discharge.

What is Considered Wrongful Termination in North Carolina?

Under the doctrine of at-will employment, employers in North Carolina have significant discretion to dismiss an employee as they see fit. The employer’s actions must violate a specific law or provision in order to be considered wrongful termination.

The chart below summarizes key differences between permissible, legal termination and wrongful discharge in the state of North Carolina:

Legal Termination Wrongful Termination
Firing an employee for no reason Violating an employment contract
Termination on short or no notice Discrimination
Providing no time for corrections Prohibited retaliation
Ridiculous or unfair reasoning Violating public policy


Pursuing Wrongful Discharge Cases in North Carolina

There is no precise checklist of conditions to determine whether you may or may not have a claim for wrongful termination. In addition to federal law, North Carolina offers specific protections for employees, including:

For the above reasons and more, it is important to contact an attorney with expertise in wrongful termination laws in North Carolina. If you believe you have been wrongfully discharged, contact the attorneys at Herrmann & Murphy for a consultation.

Speak to a Wrongful Termination Attorney in North Carolina

The employment law attorneys at Herrmann & Murphy hold employers accountable and obtain fair compensation for clients in North Carolina who have experienced the injustice of wrongful job termination. Contact us for a confidential consultation by submitting an online form or calling 704-940-6399.

Wrongful Termination FAQ

What are some examples of sexual orientation discrimination?2021-07-14T16:42:05-05:00

The law does not forbid simple teasing or occasional thoughtless remarks. Harassment and discrimination are legal terms referring to serious injustices, which can create a toxic work environment for LGBT employees.

Possible examples of sexual orientation discrimination in the workplace could include:

  • An employer’s refusal to extend employment benefits to a same-sex spouse
  • Management asking an employee not to bring their same-sex partner to company events, such as a holiday party or company picnic
  • Firing or demoting an employee shortly after they come out
  • A supervisor using their personal religious beliefs to justify terminating an LGBT employee
  • Coworkers regularly using homophobic slurs to refer to another employee
I’m being harassed at work because I am gay. What should I do?2021-07-14T16:40:02-05:00

Employees often feel worried or unsure about reporting concerns to their employer or to the EEOC, including fear of possibly being retaliated against. Know that you have the option to meet with an attorney to discuss your concerns and evaluate possible legal remedies at any time.

It is also important to be aware of your employer’s anti-harassment and discrimination policies, and to follow the established procedures to report harassment. In certain scenarios, the law provides a defense for employers when the employee has not followed company policy to report harassment.

You are not legally required to disclose your sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but this may be necessary during the process of reporting harassment to your employer. Consult an attorney specializing in sexual orientation discrimination for more information.

What is the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination?2021-07-14T16:37:50-05:00

Sexual orientation refers to a person’s sexual attractions, whether heterosexual (opposite sex), homosexual (including gay or lesbian), bisexual, pansexual or otherwise. Gender identity refers to the way a person self-identifies as male or female (or nonconforming).

A person can experience sexual orientation and/or gender identity discrimination regardless of whether or not their identity has been disclosed, and may experience adversity simply because their peers think they belong to the queer community.

How much time do I have to file a lawsuit for gender identity discrimination in North Carolina or South Carolina?2021-07-14T16:48:26-05:00

A claim must be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 180 days of a discriminatory act. If time allows, and it has not been more than five months since the adverse action took place, we strongly recommend reaching out to an employment rights attorney before going to the EEOC.

In the state of South Carolina, employees have up to 300 days to file a discrimination claim, as per the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, but it is best to bring the claim within 180 days if there is any argument that South Carolina law does not also prohibit that type of discrimination.

What should I do if I am being harassed at work because I am transgender?2021-07-14T16:43:33-05:00

You may choose to consult with an attorney at any time to discuss your options and potential legal remedies — particularly if you are worried about the possibility of being retaliated against for reporting any concerns to your employer or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

If your employer has an anti-harassment and discrimination policy, you should also follow the specific rules in that policy for how, when, and to whom you are required to report harassment. The law sometimes provides a defense to employers if the harassment victim does not follow the exact procedures outlined in the handbook for reporting harassment.

Laws and interpretations of anti-discrimination policies are constantly changing. In certain settings, employers may also attempt to use their religious affiliation to justify discriminatory behavior towards the LGBTQ+ community.

For the above reasons and more, it is critical to select an attorney specializing in transgender discrimination.

What are some examples of gender identity discrimination?2021-07-14T16:46:12-05:00

Many different actions and behaviors can be considered discriminatory. This is a legal term which refers to injustices far beyond simple teasing and genuine misunderstandings.

Below are several possible examples of gender identity discrimination:

  • An employee is fired shortly after announcing their plans to transition.
  • Management will not allow an employee to use the restroom which conforms to their gender identity.
  • Coworkers will only refer to a trans employee by their deadname.
  • A trans employee is being threatened or intimidated by their supervisor.
  • Insensitive jokes, slurs and sexual remarks are considered the norm in a workplace culture.
What is considered employment discrimination?2021-07-14T16:50:11-05:00

Many kinds of behavior can be discriminatory, and your remedies are not limited to wrongful discharge. For example, employment discrimination can also include treating certain employees differently, paying them less, or withholding employment opportunities because of who someone is, rather than what they do. These are only a few of countless examples of workplace discrimination.

Both federal and North Carolina state law prohibit discrimination against several protected classes, including discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, veteran status, disability, skin color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and pregnancy.

If you believe you may have experienced workplace discrimination as an employee in the state of North Carolina, discuss your concerns with a wrongful termination attorney at Herrmann & Murphy. Call 704-940-6399 or email us.

What should I do if my employer has not paid me for the work I’ve completed?2021-07-14T16:51:14-05:00

If an employee in North Carolina is fired or quits their job, they are required to receive a final paycheck on the next scheduled payday for any unpaid wages. If you believe your overtime has been shorted or your employer owes you money, contact our team of wrongful termination attorneys for a consultation by calling 704-940-6399 or emailing us.

Am I legally required to receive a severance package?2021-07-14T16:52:17-05:00

Employers in North Carolina are not required to pay severance to a terminated employee, and any exceptions are very rare. An employer may offer a severance package which can only be accepted if the employee signs a severance agreement. Typically, this agreement includes language about waiving the right to pursue a lawsuit against the employer.

Severance packages are negotiable and may be presented with a deadline to accept or decline. Contact our North Carolina wrongful termination lawyers if you need assistance reviewing or negotiating severance pay and/or a severance agreement.


Kevin Murphy of Herrmann & Murphy

Kevin Murphy

Sean Herrmann of Herrmann & Murphy

Sean Herrmann

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