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EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION

AS A FEMALE OF EASTERN EUROPEAN DECENT, INA SHTUKAR IS INTIMATELY FAMILIAR WITH STRUGGLES YOU MIGHT BE EXPERIENCING

BLACK & WHILE LAW also handles a variety of employment related matters. While employment in North Carolina is typically "at will," this term is often misunderstood. You still have certain rights protected under both state and federal law. Your employer may not discriminate against you based on your race, gender, national origin, religion, age, disability, genetic information, color, and in retaliation to your complaints or subject you to a hostile work environment. 

 

WRONGFUL TERMINATION

The fact that your employment is “at will,” does not mean you cannot sue your employer for wrongful termination. It is true that in North Carolina and many other states, an employer has the ability to terminate your employment for any reason, or for no reason at all. However, what your employer may not do is terminate your employment for a wrongful purpose, based on your race or gender, for instance, or in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim against your employer. We understand you may be overwhelmed as to what your rights are, how to best protect them, and what your next move should be. Your case is unique and as such we highly recommend you contact us for an initial case evaluation. We will listen to your concerns and answer any questions you may have.

HOSTILE WORK ENVIRONMENT

If your employer treats you differently than other similarly situated employees by creating additional standards (often unattainable) and subjects you to ridicule or disparate treatment that stresses you out to the point that your performance is impacted, you may have a claim against your employer for creating a hostile work environment.

RETALIATION

All of the laws we enforce make it illegal to fire, demote, harass, or otherwise "retaliate" against people (applicants or employees) because they filed a charge of discrimination, because they complained to their employer or other covered entity about discrimination on the job, or because they participated in an employment discrimination proceeding (such as an investigation or lawsuit).The law forbids retaliation when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.

FMLA CLAIMS

The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA) provides an entitlement of up to 12 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave during any 12-month period of eligible, covered employees for the following reasons: 1) birth and care of the eligible employee's child, or placement for adoption or foster care of a child with the employee 2) care of an immediate family member (spouse, child, parents) who has a serious health condition. To be eligible you must meet certain requirements: (a) work at a work site within 75 miles of employer, (b) have worked at least a total of 12 months for the employer, and (c) have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months immediately before the date of FMLA leave begins. The FMLA requires employers to restore employees who return from FMLA leave to the same or equivalent position with pay, benefits and responsibilities similar to the level that existed when leave began. If you feel you are having an issue with your employer regarding your FMLA rights, you may want to contact BLACK & WHILE LAW. Keep in mind that upon the expiration of the FMLA leave, you must contact your employer to ensure that your rights are protected, as the Industrial Commission could hold that failure to do so constitutes voluntary resignation, which would bar you from being potentially eligible for workers' compensation benefits.

EMPLOYEMENT DISCRIMINATION

There are many types of employment discrimination based on multiple grounds:

Based on sex

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex/gender. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both the victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

Based on sexual orientation

In the federal government, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 (CSRA), as amended, prohibits federal employees who have authority to take, direct others to take, recommend or approve any personnel action from discriminating against applicants and employees on the bases of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status or political affiliation and from discriminating against an applicant or employee on the basis of conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the applicant or employee. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has interpreted the prohibition of discrimination based on "conduct" to include discrimination based on sexual orientation. Executive Order 13087, amending Executive Order 11478, was signed on May 28, 1998, to provide a uniform policy for the federal government to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. Executive Order 11478 section 1 reads: It is the policy of the government of the United States to provide equal opportunity in federal employment for all persons, to prohibit discrimination in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age, or sexual orientation and to promote the full realization of equal opportunity through continuing affirmative program in each executive department and agency. This policy of equal opportunity applies to and must be an integral part of every aspect of personnel policy and practice in the employment, development, advancement, and treatment of civilian employees of the federal government, and to the extent permitted by law. We would like to hear about your potential claim. Please call us directly.

Based on race/ national origin

Race discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because he/she is of a certain race/national origin or because of personal characteristics associated with race/national origin (such as accent, hair texture, skin color, or certain facial features). Color discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of skin color complexion.

Race/color/national origin discrimination can also involve treating someone unfavorably because the person is married to (or associated with) a person of a certain race or color or because of a person's connection with a race-based organization or group, or an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain color. Discrimination can occur when the victim and the person who inflicted the discrimination are the same race or color.

Harassment can include, for example, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person’s race or color, or the display of racially offensive symbols. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer. 

Based on religion

Religious discrimination involves treating a person (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of his or her religious beliefs. The law protects not only people who belong to traditional, organized religions, such as Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism, but also others who have sincerely held religious, ethical or moral beliefs. Religious discrimination can also involve treating someone differently because that person is married to (or associated with) an individual of a particular religion or because of his or her connection with a religious organization or group.

Based on age

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are 40 years of age or older from employment discrimination based on age. The ADEA’s protections apply to both employees and job applicants. Under the ADEA, it is unlawful to discriminate against a person because of his/her age with respect to any term, condition, or privilege of employment, including hiring, firing, promotion, layoff, compensation, benefits, job assignments, and training. The ADEA permits employers to favor older workers based on age even when doing so adversely affects a younger worker who is 40 or older. It is also unlawful to retaliate against an individual for opposing employment practices that discriminate based on age or for filing an age discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or litigation under the ADEA.

Based on gender

Gender discrimination is essentially the same as discrimination based on sex (please see above). Sex discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person’s sex. Sex discrimination also can involve treating someone less favorably because of his or her connection with an organization or group that is generally associated with people of a certain sex.

LABOR AND WAGES DISPUTES

If you feel you are owed unpaid wages, or that your employer unfairly prevented you from receiving minimum wages or overtime pay, contact BLACK & WHILE LAW. Our familiarity with state and federal labor standards legislation, together with our aggressive approach to litigating unpaid wage cases can make a significant difference to the ultimate resolution of your action. Having legal representation costs much less than you would think and may affect the outcome in your favor.

DENIED UNEMPLOYEMENT

If you have been dismissed from a job without just cause (misconduct), you should be eligible for unemployment. The only time an employer can fight and may win, is when they terminated an employee for job related misconduct, and the employee had been previously warned that their job was in jeopardy. We have contested many unemployment issues and have found that employers who do their homework and follow the law rarely lose, and if they do win, these cases were almost always when misconduct was involved. In the telephone hearings we have been involved in, the unemployment representative asks for statements from the employer and the employee regarding the reason the employment was terminated. Their main questions are always, "What was the particular incident that resulted in the termination of this employee?" and "Did the employee know that their job was in jeopardy?" Having an attorney represent you may greatly increase the changes of a favorable outcome. 

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