North Carolina Law Regarding Workplace Discrimination
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 143-422.2, “[i]t is the public policy of [North Carolina] to protect and safeguard the right and opportunity of all persons to seek, obtain and hold employment without discrimination or abridgement on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap by employers which regularly employ 15 or more employees.”
Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 95-28.1, it is unlawful for an employer to “deny or refuse employment to any person or discharge any person from employment on account of the fact such person possesses sickle cell trait or hemoglobin C trait.”
Under N.C. Gen. Stat § 130A-148, it is illegal to discriminate on the basis of AIDS or HIV condition, but the statute allows an employer to require applicants to take a pre-employment HIV test. Employers are allowed to deny employment based on a positive test result, but may not test or discriminate against current employees.
Lastly, under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 168A-5(a)(1), it is unlawful for an “employer to fail to hire or consider for employment or promotion, to discharge, or otherwise to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability on the basis of a disabling condition with respect to compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
***Please note that under federal law, discrimination is also prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Employees with Disabilities Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
Where do you File a Discrimination Claim in North Carolina
North Carolina’s state administrative agency does not process claims under the state anti-discrimination law. However, The Office of Administrative Hearings is designated to serve as the State’s deferral agency for cases deferred by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to the Office of Administrative Hearings for charges filed by State or local government employees. Deferred claims can be filed with either the EEOC or The Office of Administrative Hearings. Otherwise, in order to file a claim, you will have to contact your closest local EEOC office. The three EEOC offices in North Carolina are located in Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh.
What to Include in Your Formal Complaint
- Your name, address, and telephone number;
- A short description of the events that you believe were discriminatory (for example, you were terminated, demoted, harassed);
- The reason you believe you were discriminated against (for example, because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, genetic information or retaliation);
- A short description of any injury you suffered; and
- Your signature (or your lawyer’s signature).
When Should You File?
The short and simple answer is IMMEDIATELY! There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed with the EEOC. In order to preserve your claim, you must file your complaint with the EEOC within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, you may have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, so do not wait until the last minute to file your complaint. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Nonetheless, if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.
Also, you should check with your city or county to see if you live and/or work in a city or county with a local anti-discrimination law. There are some cities and counties in North Carolina that have agencies that process claims under local ordinances and may be able to assist you.
What Happens Next?
After successfully filing your complaint employment discrimination complaint with the EEOC, your claim will be investigated. The EEOC will determine whether there is probable cause to believe that you were discriminated against within 180 days from the time that you file your formal complaint. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, the EEOC will provide you with a “Notice of Right to Sue” letter.
If you choose to pursue your claim further, you must do so in court. However, your lawsuit based on discrimination must be filed in state or federal court within 90 days. Please note that some state claims have different time constraints that determine when a lawsuit must be filed. If your lawsuit is not timely filed, you may lose your opportunity to pursue your discrimination case. For more information about filing your discrimination claim visit www.eeoc.gov. Learn Your Rights 101.