Employers can be held liable for taking action against an employee when that employee exercises certain protected rights under North Carolina state law.
For example, an employer cannot retaliate against an employee if the employee, in good faith:
- Files, or threatens to file, a claim for worker’s compensation or a claim under the Wage and Hour Act
- Contacts OSHA, or enforces any provisions of the Mine and Safety Health Act
- Seeks job-related protecting for his or her service in the North Carolina’s National Guard
- Reports to law enforcement the sale of certain drug paraphernalia
What actions can be considered retaliatory?
The retaliatory action by the employer does not have to be as serious as discharge from employment. It can also include a suspension, demotion, relocation, or other adverse employment action that affects the employee’s terms, conditions, privileges, or benefits of employment. Some examples include a reduction in work hours, a reduction in the rate of pay, or a change in position.
What is the legal process for claiming retaliation at work?
If you and your attorney feel you have a legitimate claim, this is the process for making a claim:
- The employee must make a complaint to North Carolina’s Commissioner of Labor within 180 days of the alleged violation before proceeding with filing a court action
- North Carolina’s Commissioner of Labor will then conduct an investigation and attempt to resolve the matter through informal methods
- If those efforts are unsuccessful, North Carolina’s Commissioner of Labor can either file a civil action on behalf of the employee or issue a right-to-sue letter that enables the employee to file his or her own civil action
- A civil action started by the employee must be filed within 90 days of getting the right-to-sue letter
What do I do if I think I’m a victim of retaliation at work?
It is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after the retaliatory action because there are strict deadlines an employee must follow.
If you believe that your employer unfairly retaliated against you consult an attorney right away to protect your rights.