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The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

The Warren County Board of Edu­­ca­­tion has settled a USERRA complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. The case involved an assistant principal at Warren County High School who is also a sergeant in the Army Reserve.

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Co-workers can and do get into arguments with other employees and may say things that are downright offensive. But courts expect employees to have relatively thick skins, at least when the perceived harassment is coming from co-workers and not a supervisor.

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You may have heard that the EEOC is cracking down on employers that use criminal records in hiring. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask in the hiring process.

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Employers can’t control everything—including situations in which customers harass employees. As long as you take reasonable measures to prevent or stop blatant harassment, a single incident won’t mean you will be liable for customer harassment.

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Broad discretion about compensation at the bottom of the pay scale usually prevents employees from pursuing a class-action lawsuit similar to the one in the Supreme Court’s 2011 landmark Wal-Mart v. Dukes case. However, all bets are off if the issue is pay for higher-level employees.

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Here’s a tip that can save you from needless litigation: Make sure supervisors don’t play favorites with some employees at the expense of others. You never know which employee will later claim she was excluded from the “inner circle” that got preferential treatment because of a protected characteristic.

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A former car salesman who claimed a Cary dealership fired him because it felt selling cars was a “young man’s game” appears to have plucked victory from the jaws of legal defeat.

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When so-called pro se litigants represent themselves before the EEOC and in federal court, you’ll need patience. It will pay off in the long run.

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Do you sometimes worry that you made a mistake during an investigation? Or that you believed the wrong person? You needn’t lose sleep over it. Courts won’t second-guess your decisions if they believe you acted reasonably and in good faith.

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Have a lawyer draft any release that accompanies a severance payment. If the employee sues and the release was carefully written, the court will probably say it bars suing—and may require repaying severance money before the worker can even try challenging the release’s validity.

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