EEOC Files First Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits

Two recent suits filed by the EEOC demonstrate the growing strength of the legal theory that Title VII protection extends to sexual orientation (despite the fact that it is not explicitly stated in the statute). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed discrimination lawsuits against two employers last week based on sexual orientation. One suit, filed against Pittsburgh-based Scott Medical Health Center (case 2:16-cv-00225-CB), alleges that a gay male employee was harassed due to his sexual orientation. The other, filed …
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Personal Texts on Company Devices

Let’s say you have a personal iPhone and a company-issued iPhone. On your work phone, you enter the same personal iCloud username and password you use on your personal iPhone so you can listen to your music library on either one. One day, you start up a text conversation with a co-worker on your personal iPhone. You’re both talking about this woman you work with named Kate, and because it’s a private conversation, you use some pretty insulting, derogatory, and …
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Even Legal Off-Duty Marijuana Use Can Get You Fired

Marijuana legalization is a hot topic in the United States these days and has presented some interesting new questions in the workplace. Increasingly, states are legalizing or decriminalizing private use of marijuana while the federal government continues to prohibit its use and sale under the Controlled Substances Act. At the intersection of federalism and employment law is a novel question in search of an answer: Can an employer in a state that has legalized marijuana terminate an employee in that …
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Employment Law Guest Lecture: An Overview of Federal and State Discrimination Laws

Laura Noble, Principal of the Noble Law Firm provided an employment law guest lecturer on June 16, 2015 for North Carolina State University Department of Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. The attorneys role-played different scenarios addressing hiring and firing issues and offered an overview of Federal and State Discrimination Laws. Students actively participated in the lecture by asking questions using the Turning Point “clicker” questions.

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Summary of Unemployment Eligibility and Benefits in NC

In 2013, the North Carolina General Assembly drastically cut benefits for individuals who lost their jobs.  Here are a few things you should know about the unemployment insurance benefit in North Carolina if you have recently become separated from your employer and are considering filing a claim for benefits: Prerequisites File a claim for unemployment benefits Must have been paid a minimum amount of wages based on your individual situation preceding the filing of the claim Register for work Eligibility You are …
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Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress at Work

North Carolina recognizes torts for both negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress. However, North Carolina courts have instructed that North Carolina law does not permit an action for negligent infliction of emotional distress by an employee against an employer because the Workers’ Compensation Act preempts all claims for negligent injury by employees against employers. Intentional infliction of emotional distress (“IIED”), however, is in a class of torts called intentional torts. This means that a plaintiff must prove that the …
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Should NC Employees Worry About the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act?

Congress passed the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (“CFAA”) in 1986 to curb hacking practices, especially against the federal government. However, the law’s broad construction lent itself to the law’s use in prosecuting or suing departing employees for unauthorized access or exceeding authorized access of company computers or networks when they download company data for their use after departure. Until a few years ago, such claims made under the CFAA by employers against departed employees were successful in some courts. …
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Moonlighting While on FMLA: Will It Get Me Fired?

The short answer is “it depends.” What does it depend on, you ask? Well, it depends on whether your employer has a policy against outside employment and whether the company applies and enforces such a policy consistently to all employees who takes leave. In fact, the regulations promulgated under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) speak directly to this point – “If the employer has a uniformly-applied policy governing outside or supplemental employment, such a policy may continue to …
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Just Cause Termination: More than “Just ‘Cause” They Don’t Like You

If you signed an employment contract, there’s probably a provision in the contract that governs the terms by which the contract can be terminated by your employer or by you. Often, termination of an employment contract can be immediate if done so “for cause” or “for just cause,” or a party may opt to terminate the agreement without cause with an appropriate amount of advance notice. Most public employees may only be terminated for cause, meaning that the employer must …
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What to Expect at a Consultation

If you’ve never met with an attorney before (or even if you have), you’re probably wondering what to expect at the consultation you’ve scheduled with an employment attorney. You should expect that the attorney will: Introduce herself or himself and tell you a little about her or his background; Explain that the content of your meeting will remain confidential and are protected by the attorney-client privilege as long as you do not disclose the content to third parties; Explain that …
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