Q. Does North Carolina have a state civil rights act that applies to private employers?
A. Sort of. The North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act provides that “It is the public policy of this State 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.”
The act does not provide for a private right of action if employers allegedly violate it. However, some courts have recognized a common law cause of action for wrongful discharge in violation of public policy, with the public policy being the Equal Employment Practices Act.
So far, the courts have allowed this action only in cases where employers discharged at-will employees, not other adverse employer actions.
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