Known for fighting for your rights
At EMP, we have earned a reputation statewide and nationally for fighting for workers’ rights. Two of our partners have been recognized in a number of publications as experts in the field of employment law. Most of the firm’s employment cases come from referrals from other law firms.
We represent workers in a wide range of employment-related issues, including:
- Discrimination (Race, Sex, Disability, Age, Religion, National Origin or Pregnancy)
- Sexual Harassment
- Family and Medical Leave Act
- Americans with Disabilities Act
- Wage and Hour Issues
- Retaliatory Discharge
- Wrongful Termination
- Breach of Contract
We serve individuals, unions and companies with our expertise.
How can we serve you? Click here for our Employment Law Questionnaire.
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- The Firm’s Success *
EMP has litigated all types of employment claims, including the following: • The firm won a promotion and monetary relief through settlement for a female police officer of a City Police Department based on the laws against sex discrimination • The firm won a substantial verdict in a wage and hour case against a local bank, resulting in a total award in excess of $1.6 million • The firm settled a class action lawsuit against a retail establishment alleging wage and hour violations in an amount in excess of $1,000,000 • The firm won a verdict in favor of a retired policeman who was denied his retirement benefits as a result of negligent misrepresentations of his employer • The firm won an appeal, and settled a case against a school system on behalf of a former administrator whose First Amendment rights were violated • The firm won an appeal and settled a case on behalf of a former jailer who had been terminated by the sheriff in violation of her First Amendment rights • The firm won a landmark case protecting the rights of wrongfully terminated teachers • The firm won a large sexual harassment case against a sheriff’s department • The firm won a case in the United States Supreme Court establishing the Constitutional right to a jury trial in certain labor cases.
- Other Agencies *
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) (questions regarding unions or employees acting jointly about workplace issues), Republic Square, Suite 200 4035 University Parkway or PO Box 11467 Winston-Salem, NC 27116-1467 Phone: 336-631-5201 Fax: 336-631-5210 www.nlrb.gov
- Wage and Hour Issues *
If you feel that you have been denied wages, overtime compensation, or other benefits including accrued bonuses, vacation and sick leave, you may file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor or the United States Department of Labor. These agencies investigate complaints which fall within the North Carolina or federal wage and hour laws (depending on the size of the employer, the type of business conducted, and the type of work done by the employee). You have two years (three years if the employer’s violation was willful) after the date wages were due and payable to file a private lawsuit to recover unpaid wages from the employer. You should assume that your statute of limitations is two years, not three (3) years, to be certain that you are filing on time. If you feel you have been wrongfully denied wages, benefits or overtime, you should contact one of the offices listed below. Please note that the filing of a charge with the North Carolina Department of Labor or the U.S. Department of Labor does not prevent your statute of limitations from expiring on a private lawsuit. If you wish to have a consultation concerning wage and hour issues, please complete the questionnaire on this site, or call EMP at 336-724-2828. Contact: North Carolina Department of Labor (state minimum wage & overtime; unpaid vacation; employment of children; & deductions from paychecks) 4 West Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601-1092 (919) 807-2796 (Wage & Hour, Raleigh) www.dol.state.nc.us U.S. Department of Labor (federal minimum wage & overtime; polygraph tests; family & medical leave), 4407 Bland Rd., Suite 260, Raleigh, NC 27611 (919) 790-2741 800 Briar Creek Rd., Suite CC-412, Charlotte, NC 28205 (704) 344-6302 www.dol.gov FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (FMLA) Federal law requires, generally, that employers with 50 or more employees permit up to twelve weeks annual unpaid leave for employees who have been employed for one year or more, and who are seriously sick or injured, have an immediate family member who is seriously sick or injured, are adopting a child, or have just given birth. You may qualify for this type of leave, depending on the size of your employer, the length of your employment, and your health or family situation. If you are eligible for FMLA leave and your employer denies it to you, or retaliates against you for taking leave, you have two years after the last action you contend was in violation of the Act (three years if the employer’s violation was willful) to file a private lawsuit in court against the employer. You should assume that your statute of limitations is two years, not three years, to be certain that you are filing on time. If you feel you have been wrongfully denied leave under the Act, you may contact the local office of the U.S. Department of Labor. Please note that the filing of a charge with the U.S. Department of Labor does not prevent your statute of limitations from expiring on a private lawsuit. If you wish to have a consultation concerning FMLA issues, please complete the questionnaire on this site, or call EMP at 336-724-2828. Contact: U.S. Department of Labor 4407 Bland Rd., Suite 260, Raleigh, NC 27611 (919) 790-2741 800 Briar Creek Rd., Suite CC-412, Charlotte, NC 28205 (704) 344-6302 www.dol.gov
- Retaliatory Discharge *
If you feel you have been terminated, discriminated against, or retaliated against because you have pursued a claim, filed a complaint, initiated an inquiry, investigation or inspection, testified or provided information with respect to discrimination by your employer under federal law, you may file a charge of retaliation with EEOC (see above) within 180 days of the alleged act. If you feel you have been terminated, discriminated against, or retaliated against because you have pursued a claim, filed a complaint, initiated an inquiry, investigation or inspection, testified or provided information with respect to Workers’ Compensation, OSHA, the Wage & Hour Act, the Mine Health & Safety Act, or some other administrative claim (such as discrimination against a person with sickle cell), you may file a complaint with the North Carolina Department of Labor, which investigates such claims in North Carolina. A written complaint must be filed with the North Carolina Department of Labor within 180 days of the date of the alleged retaliatory act. If you wish to have a consultation concerning retaliatory discharge, please complete the questionnaire on this site, or call EMP at 336-724-2828. Contact the Department of Labor at www.dol.state.nc.us or the Employment Discrimination Bureau 4 W. Edenton St. Raleigh, N.C. 27601-1092 919-807-2796 www.dol.state.nc.us/edb/edb.htm
- Harrassment *
Harassment is a form of discrimination. If you feel you have been or are the victim of harassment, based on race, sex, disability, age, religion, national origin, or pregnancy, you should carefully document each incident and report the harassment in writing to the appropriate supervisor or upper management employee. If your employer is covered under our federal discrimination laws, a charge of harassment must be filed with the EEOC within 180 days of the alleged act. Whether or not your employer is covered by federal law, you may have other claims under state law. To protect your rights you must file a lawsuit against your company or the harasser before the deadline of the applicable statute of limitations. The statute of limitations can be very short. If you believe you have a basis to claim harassment on the above grounds, you should seek counsel or file a charge without delay. If you wish to have a consultation concerning harassment, please complete the questionnaire on this site, or call EMP at 336-724-2828.
- Discrimination *
If you feel that you were the victim of discrimination based on your race, sex, disability, religion, national origin, or pregnancy, and your employer has 15 or more employees, or based on your age and your employer has 20 or more employees, you may file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency which enforces laws against discrimination. You may start the charge filing process by contacting your local EEOC office and relating the facts of your case to the EEOC investigators. The deadline for filing a charge is 180 days from notice of the discriminatory act (whether it is a notice of termination, failure to promote, denial of benefits, or some other adverse action during your employment relationship). If you intend to file a charge of discrimination, you should do so at once. If you wish to have a consultation concerning potential discrimination, please complete the questionnaire on this site, or call EMP at 336-724-2828. For more information the EEOC’s home page is www.eeoc.gov. To file a charge contact the office of the EEOC closest to you: 1309 Annapolis Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606 (919) 856-4064 129 W. Trade Street, Suite 400, Charlotte, NC 28202 (704) 344-6682 2303 West Meadowview, Suite 201 Greensboro, NC 27407 (336) 547-4188
- Unemployment *
While you may not be able to successfully challenge a termination decision, you do have a right to file for unemployment compensation. In order to do so, you can file online or visit your local office of the Employment Security Commission of North Carolina. The Commission will make an initial decision based on your claim and the response of the company. If you are unsuccessful at that point, you can request a hearing before an appeals referee and present your evidence. If you prove that you were terminated without cause, you should be eligible for unemployment compensation. If, on the other hand, the employer is successful in proving you were terminated for misconduct or substantial fault, you may be disqualified from all or a portion of your benefits. The North Carolina Employment Security Commission’s home page is www.ncesc.com. The local office in Winston-Salem is at 630 West Sixth Street or by phone (336) 761-1700.
- Exceptions to the general rule of employment-at-will *
There are exceptions to the at-will doctrine. Contract Exceptions: If the employer and the employee have an employment contract (oral or written) for a specific time period (such as a one-year contract) or a specific project, the employment-at-will rule does not apply. It also does not apply if the employee and employer are subject to a collective bargaining agreement between a union and the employer. In these two circumstances, the employee is protected by the individual contract or the union contract. Federal and State Laws Federal laws protect employees from discrimination in hiring, promotion, discipline, demotion, discharge, or any other conditions of employment based on race, age, gender, disability, religion, national origin or pregnancy. These federal laws only apply to employers with a minimum number of employees (20 with respect to age discrimination laws, and 15 with respect to most others). State laws protect employees who have pursued their legal rights under state statutes, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim, wage and hour complaints, or OSHA complaints. Employees are also protected from discharge if their termination is a violation of the public policy of North Carolina. This means that an employee was fired for refusing the employer’s demand to violate a law that protects the citizens of the state or for testifying against the employer. Some exceptions to the at-will doctrine are discussed below. The contact information for the appropriate agency is also provided.
- General rule of employment-at-will *
The general rule in North Carolina is that an employee of a private company who does not have an employment contract for a specified period of time can be terminated at any time without just cause. Unfortunately, this means that an employer’s decision to terminate an employee does not have to be fair or reasonable or based on fact. Since the employee is “at-will” he or she can be terminated at the will of the employer at any time for almost any reason.