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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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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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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Employment Contracts: Why You Should Actually Read Them

“Sign now, read later” is usually a bad plan with Employment Agreements as it can have particularly awful consequences. I often meet with clients shortly after they have resigned or have been terminated from their job. At the exit interview the client may have been advised by the company that all of their “restrictive covenants” remain in effect. Generally speaking, “restrictive covenants” relate to activities that the former employee is NOT allowed to do post-employment. Some examples may be to …
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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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Put and Get Everything in Writing

Sure, you have a great relationship with everyone at work. You trust your boss. You love your coworkers. Never had a problem with Susan from HR. Everything is just hunky-dory. Nobody expects an employment relationship to sour. But it happens, even to the best employees. That’s why you should put everything important in writing, and where possible, ask to get everything promised to you or expected of you in writing. If you get called into a meeting with your managers …
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Wrongful Discharge Claims Under North Carolina Law Must Plead a Specific Public Policy Basis to Avoid a Motion to Dismiss

In the recent case of Horne v. Cumberland County Hosp. Sys., 2013 N.C. App. LEXIS 720 (2013), the North Carolina Court of Appeals held that when a plaintiff alleges wrongful termination in violation of the state’s public policy, the complaint must allege “specific conduct by a defendant that violated a specific expression of North Carolina public policy.” (quoting Considine v. Compass Grp. USA, Inc., 145 N.C. App. 314, 321-22, 551 S.E.2d 179, 184 (emphasis added), aff’d per curiam, 354 N.C. 568, 557 S.E.2d 528 (2001)).  The court further explained that …
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What Does “Employment at Will” Really Mean?

In North Carolina, the employment relationship is described as “at-will.”  That means that an employer can terminate you for any reason, even an unreasonable one, as long as it’s not one forbidden by law or express agreement.   While this is a relatively simply statement to make, it is a lot less simple to understand in the real world.   We often  find ourselves explaining to frustrated employees why a terribly unfair workplace situation is not necessarily the basis of a law …
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Should I just Sign My “Standard” Separation Agreement & Get it Over With?

It is usually not with a feeling of great joy that an employee reads the separation agreement just handed over by his or her soon-to-be former boss.  And while your head may be spinning with anger and anxiety now is the time to put those thoughts aside and take a deep breath. There is a popular misconception that all of these agreements are “standard” and don’t require much review.  Not true.  There are many variations of key provisions that can have significant …
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What NOT to do if you are sued for Sexual Harassment

First and foremost, don’t make things up and don’t bribe witnesses. Case in point: A female executive of a Georgia based mortgage company sued the company for sexual harassment and assault asserting that the CEO had, among other wretched acts, groped her in front of other employees.  As part of its defense, the company provided the court with a declaration from a witness that vehemently contradicted the woman’s claims.  A VP of the company claimed that he was present when …
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