What is discriminatory firing?
Discriminatory firing is a type of wrongful termination, also be referred to as wrongful discharge. It occurs when an employee is terminated from their job based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.1 Federally, you may have a cause of action either for being fired or for constructive termination, where your resignation is the functional equivalent of a discharge.2 North Carolina, however, does not recognize a claim for constructive discharge based on a hostile work environment.3
What are the federal laws regarding discriminatory firing?
Under federal law discrimination in the discharge of employees is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and the Job Training Partnership Act. 5
How do I bring a claim for discriminatory firing under federal law?
To file a claim under federal law you should contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). In North Carolina, the regional EEOC office is in Charlotte, the local office is in Greensboro, and there is an area office in Raleigh.6 See The EEOC Process for more information.
What are the laws in North Carolina regarding discriminatory firing?
The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act (NCEEPA) makes direct firing illegal by stating that “[i]t is the public policy of this State to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgment on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.”7 NCEEPA, however, does not provide any remedies for violations.8
How do I bring a claim for discriminatory firing in North Carolina?
If you are a current or former state or county employee, then you can file a complaint with Civil Rights Division (CRD) of the Office of Administrative hearings. The CRD is the deferral office charged with handling all claims of discrimination in employment or retaliation.9 “The Human Relations Commission in the Department of Administration shall have the authority to receive charges of discrimination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission … the agency shall use its good offices to effect an amicable resolution of the charges of discrimination.”10
The complaint shall include the following information: 12
See The EEOC Process for general information about filing a claim.
Do I have any alternative causes of action if I believe I was discriminatorily fired?
In addition to filing a charge for discrimination with the CRD or EEOC, you may file a lawsuit for wrongful discharge. Having a discrimination claim does not bar you from seeking remedy under wrongful discharge, and therefore you could file a charge and lawsuit at the same time.14 To establish that your termination was in violation of public policy you must show:15
Discriminatory Firing: “It Happened to Me” 16
Ms. Kym McLean was an employee at Carolina Hills, a subdivision of Patten Communities Inc. Ms. McLean, a 19-year-old black woman, was hired in 1995 by Mr. Willard Hodge, a white sales manager, as an at-will employee to work as a receptionist at his Sanford, North Carolina office. She worked at Patten until August 22, 1995. There was a matter of dispute as to whether she resigned or was fired. Ms. McLean claimed that she was discriminated against on the basis of her race and sex, and that Mr. Hodge’s actions had violated the public policy of North Carolina.
1 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e-2 (West 2009).
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