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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Fraud in the Inducement in the Employment Context

North Carolina does recognize a cause of action for employees who fall prey to an employer’s promise to employ without an intent to do so.  However, the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that the employer did not intend to honor its promises regarding employment at the time they were made. One North Carolina case demonstrates why these kinds of claims are hard hills to climb.  In February 2007, Eli Research, Inc. engaged Lyn Hittle in employment discussions in which Eli offered Hittle an …
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President Obama to Sign Executive Order Curbing LGBT Employment Discrimination

Yesterday, President Obama pledged that he would sign an executive order that would prohibit federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Because federal contractors employ 22% of the American workforce, the impending executive order will serve as an important step in eliminating discrimination against LGBT people in the workplace. While the executive order will not protect all LGBT workers in the private labor market, it is a step in the right direction. Employment opportunities should …
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Emotional Distress Damages Allowed in Wrongful Discharge Suit

While North Carolina follows the employment at will doctrine, North Carolina courts recognize specific exceptions to that doctrine based upon a violation of public policy. If an employer terminates an employee for reasons that violate a specific expression of state public policy, the plaintiff may pursue a wrongful discharge claim to remedy the personal injury suffered. Very recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeals analyzed the kinds of damages that a jury may award in a successful wrongful discharge action. …
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A Fool’s Resignation on April 1

Yesterday, I posted an April Fools’ Day piece for employers.  Today, having been given some golden material by a friend of mine who ACTUALLY played this April Fool’s prank on his managers, I’m doing a belated April Fools’ Day lesson for employees.  (He didn’t consult me before doing this, obviously). The following is an example, for several reasons, of a prank NOT to play on April Fools’ Day (or the other 364 days of the year)… This e-mail went out …
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Off the Clock

I’ve heard employees say, “My employer tells me to clock out once I have reached 8 hours in the day, even if I haven’t finished my work.”  If you worked past when you clocked out, can you get paid for it?  If you actually worked more than 40 hours — even if your employer has a policy against working unauthorized overtime – do you still have a right to be paid for it? The answer to both questions is yes …
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More than a Hunch

A federal court in Washington recently took up the case of a Muslim software architect who claimed harassment on the basis of his religion and national origin.  After staying in a room numbered 911 at a hotel on a business trip, he believed someone at his company booked him in that particular room to harass him because they knew that his first name is Mohammed, in order to remind him of the 9/11 terror attacks.  The case is Rahman v. …
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