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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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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Service of Process via Social Media?! Yep.

A federal court in Virginia recently allowed service of the summons and complaint in a lawsuit via Facebook, LinkedIn and e-mail.  While that lawsuit involves trademark infringement, the implications are far-reaching and indicative that some courts have begun to get cozy with the central role of social media and technology in our rapidly changing society. After having first notified him of his infringement by Skype and e-mail, the plaintiff in the Virginia case sued an app developer in Turkey, but …
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What protections are there for “whistleblowers”?

Ever witnessed something going on at work that you suspected was fraudulent or illegal?  Public policy encourages people in your position to speak up and the law comports with public policy by attempting to protect those who do from retaliation in employment. We commonly refer to these insiders with information as whistleblowers.  The term is pretty self-explanatory – it describes persons who blow the whistle on bad actors and fraudulent or illegal activity in which their employer is knowingly engaging. …
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Don’t Leave Your Money on the Table

If your employer has decided to end its relationship with you, you should hire an expert employment attorney to help you part ways with dignity, grace, and financial and career security.  Often, employers offer what is called a “separation agreement” or “severance agreement” that will govern your exit from the company and your mutual obligations after your exit. There are ten very good reasons why you should hire an employment lawyer to review and negotiate your separation agreement prior to …
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Don’t be a #Twit(ter) at Work

Ever gotten bored during the workday and picked up your smartphone to play around on Twitter?  Ever tempted to complain about your company or your boss? Beware.  It could cost you your job. Social media is as much a part of our social fabric now as interpersonal communication.  And people are using it while at work and to talk about work.  Ask yourself… if you walked out to the sidewalk in front of your company and announced to everyone how …
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The Way You Dress at Work

Generally, your employer may maintain a dress code that applies to all employees within a certain job category, even if it means that, coincidentally, the dress code happens to conflict with some workers’ ethnic or religious beliefs.  However, your employer’s policy can’t single out groups of people based upon factors such as national origin or religion.  For example, the company can’t ban employees from wearing traditional African head wraps while allowing other employees to don western-styled hats (cowboy hats, fedoras, …
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