The term "Employment-at-Will"
simply means that unless there is a specific
law to protect employees or there is an
employment contract providing otherwise,
then an employer can treat its employees
as it sees fit (including the assignment
of demeaning tasks) and the employer can
discharge an employee at the will of the
employer for any reason or no reason at
all. It is also up to each employer to
decide if its employees may see their
own personnel file or not.
The most common protected
categories are those that protect an employee's
civil rights based on age, race, sex,
religion, national origin, color, disability
[including the Americans with Disability
Act (ADA)], or pregnancy. For questions
or information on these protected categories,
you need to contact the federal Equal
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
either in Charlotte (704) 344-6682, Greensboro
(336) 333-5174, or Raleigh (919) 856-4064.
You may also call 1-800-669-4000 (toll-free)
to be connected to your local EEOC office.
Web site: http://www.eeoc.gov/
category is under the Retaliatory Employment
Discrimination Act (REDA), which is administered
by the Department of Labor's Employment
Discrimination Bureau (EDB). REDA protects
against retaliation by an employer when
an employee engages in activities protected
under the Occupational Safety and Health
Act (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health
Act, the North Carolina Wage and Hour
Act, and Workers Compensation Act, as
well as for carrying the sickle cell trait,
use of genetic testing information, participating
in the North Carolina National Guard,
and participating in the juvenile court
system concerning the employee's child.
The EDB can be reached at the telephone
numbers listed below.
If the discrimination or unfair treatment
is not based on one of the factors listed above, then you need to consult
with a private attorney. If you do not have an attorney or know of one
to contact, you may contact the North Carolina Lawyer Referral Service
at 919-677-8574 (Raleigh/Cary) or toll-free (NC only) 1-800-662-7660 to
be refered to an attorney. Web site: http://www.ncbar.org/legal_prof/probono/atj_lrs.asp.
If you cannot afford an attorney, you may be eligible for free legal advice
through a Legal Aid Services office in your area. You need to contact
their Central Office in Raleigh at 919-856-2564 for information on local
offices throughout the State. Web site: http://www.legalaidnc.org
North Carolina Department of
Wage and Hour Bureau>
Raleigh, NC 27699-1101
(919) 807-2796 or (toll-free NC only) 1-800-NC-LABOR
Web site: http://www.nclabor.com