Employment Litigation

Employment-related disputes are common in workplaces in North Carolina. These issues arise when employers or employees break employment laws, state and federal statutes and regulations, or go against contractual principles.  If you’re an employer and find yourself facing an employment litigation case, having an attorney who is knowledgeable about North Carolina’s employment laws on your side is crucial to protecting your business and reputation.

At Harman Law, our employment litigation lawyers advise employers on how to deal with employment disputes and help handle high-profile, confidential cases that may involve investigations. If you feel aggrieved by your employee’s actions, don’t hesitate – contact us today to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys to evaluate your case.

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Employment Litigation: Common Workplace Cases

At Harman Law, we are ready to assist employers with various types of employment litigation cases, including:

Wage and Hour Cases

The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act obliges employers in N.C. to pay the agreed-upon wages to their employees when due, with no unwarranted deductions. Under federal law, the Fair Labor Standards Act sets a national minimum wage and a higher pay rate for overtime.

Employers must pay their employees for all the hours worked and can only make deductions that are legally authorized (like income taxes) or for the employee’s benefit and voluntarily authorized by the employee in writing (such as insurance premiums). If they don’t follow these rules, their employees could file claims against them for unpaid wages.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employees must be paid one and a half times their normal pay whenever they work more than 40 hours a week unless exemptions apply. This law applies to both salaried and hourly employees, and they may file a claim against their employers whenever they fail to pay in accordance with the law.

If an employee files a claim accusing you of wage or hour violations, you’ll need an experienced employment litigation lawyer to defend you.

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Cases

Employees have the right to work in a discrimination and harassment-free environment. That means employers can’t treat them unfairly due to their race, sex (including sexual orientation, pregnancy, and transgender status), disability, age, religion, color, national origin, and even HIV/AIDS status. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal law that protects job applicants and employees against any form of discrimination.

The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act makes it illegal for an employer to take retaliatory action against an employee who files a discrimination charge, testifies, or assists in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit related to any discriminatory practice in the workplace.

Employers can also find themselves in trouble over accusations of sexual harassment. In 2018, the EEOC received more than 7500 cases of sexual harassment throughout the country. When it comes to sexual harassment, employees are protected by two laws. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that makes workplace sexual harassment illegal. According to this law, victims can take legal action against their harassers in a federal court. Just like many other states, North Carolina also has an anti-sexual harassment state law to protect employees. Besides prohibiting sexual harassment, this law requires that government employers draw up a plan to avert workplace harassment, including sexual harassment.

A Harman Law, we offer human resources counseling to help you develop strategies for preventing harassment at your business. Accusations of employment discrimination or sexual harassment can harm an employer’s personal reputation, career, and the business’s finances. Our North Carolina employment litigation lawyers can advise you on how to respond to an employment discrimination or sexual harassment complaint and offer legal representation in a state or federal court.

Wrongful Termination

North Carolina is an employment-at-will state. That means that employment can be terminated by the employer or employee at any time without regard to the quality of performance. However, the exception is that an employer can’t terminate an employee on unlawful grounds. This includes a retaliatory action against the employee for engaging in any protected activity.

Various federal and state laws forbid unlawful retaliation by employers. The common law doctrine of wrongful discharge and the N.C. Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act prohibits employers from firing employees for certain issues, including filing a complaint about unpaid wages, workers’ compensation, or informing the authorities of a workplace violation.

Federal laws like the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Surface Transportation Assistance Act and Americans with Disabilities Act make it illegal to terminate employees for reporting fraud, refusing to operate a vehicle in violation of the safety requirements, and requesting reasonable workplace accommodations for a disability, respectively.

Our attorneys are well-versed in these laws and can defend you from a wrongful termination claim.

Non-Solicitations, Non-Compete, and Trade Secret Cases

Employment disputes may also arise over the obligations of an employee after employment termination. Some employment agreements include non-solicitation and non-compete provisions that require the employee to refrain from soliciting the employer’s customers or employees or competing with the employer’s business. Such “restrictive covenants” are disfavored by law, and employers should not always presume that the courts will enforce them.

Federal law and North Carolina law include statutes governing trade secrets. While these statutes could be similar, they often differ in various ways. If you want to file and win a non-solicitation, non-compete, or trade secret lawsuit, hire an employment litigation attorney who understands federal and North Carolina employment law. At Harman Law, our lawyers have experience litigating such cases.

Severance Agreements

In some layoff situations, employees may take home a severance package in exchange for waiving their right to sue for employment termination. An N.C. employment litigation attorney can advise you on certain issues. Specifically, they can help by:

  • Evaluating whether a disgruntled employee’s potential legal claim against you has any merit in case they refuse the severance offer
  • Assessing whether the severance offer matches the potential merits of the legal claim

An employment litigation lawyer can help you craft severance agreements that will deter employees from litigation.

Conclusion

Some of the most types of employment litigation cases deal with alleged workplace discrimination, sexual harassment, work and hour issues, and wrongful termination. Employment litigation can also arise when an employee violates their obligations by breaking non-compete, non-solicitation, or trade secrets agreements.

Whether you need a robust defense or to hold an employee accountable, choosing the right North Carolina employment litigation lawyer is important.  At Harman Law, our employment litigation attorneys can evaluate your case. They also offer top-tier legal representation in jury trials for a better chance of winning your case. Call [phone] or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation.