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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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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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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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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