The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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The HR Specialist: North Carolina Employment Law

Before the Randleman Police Department moved to new facilities last Novem­­ber, Chief Steve Leonard ordered an inventory of the evidence room. The tally found that $7,800 in cash was missing.

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A federal judge has affirmed a jury award to a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Mike Adams claimed university administrators praised him when he was an atheist, but black-balled him after he became a Christian.

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Hard on the heels of enactment of a new North Carolina law designed to eliminate tenure for public school teachers, the Robeson County Schools have reluctantly developed a point system to rank its teachers. No one, it seems, likes it—not school administrators and not teachers.

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The union that represents employees at the Smithfield Foods plant in Tar Heel put on the feed bag in March to publicize efforts to organize employees at another company’s plant nearby. The goal: To build support for forcing a union election at the Mountainaire Farms poultry plant in Lumber Bridge.

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It doesn’t take much to get a lawsuit going. Employees just have to show that discrimination may be the reason why they weren’t promoted or failed to receive benefit of employment that was afforded to someone of a different race, sex or other protected characteristic. Something as simple as an employer not following its own promotion policies will do the trick.

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Employers don’t have to tolerate disruptive and rude behavior in the workplace. You can set—and should enforce—basic civility rules. Not only does that give you a basis for discipline, but it may prevent a problem from escalating from boorish behavior to harassment.

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Disabled employees who need reasonable accommodations can’t jump the gun and sue prematurely. If they continue doing their jobs and their employer does not take any ad­­verse action against them, they don’t yet have grounds for an ADA lawsuit.

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Courts seem to be losing patience with so-called pro se lawsuits in which workers act as their own lawyers to sue and provide no specifics about alleged employer wrongdoing.

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The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) has announced plans to investigate the Scotland County Sheriff’s office, but it’s been mum about the investigation’s focus. At least one news report has linked the probe to the office’s practice of requiring deputies to moonlight for a local warfare training company.

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Want an easy way to show that an employee acknowledged receiving a copy of your arbitration agreement? Include it in the employee handbook. Then have IT track when employees received it.

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It’s illegal to retaliate against employees for complaining about sex discrimination or harassment. The employee’s initial complaint doesn’t have to pan out, either. It’s enough that the employee reasonably believed in good faith that she was being discriminated against.

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Employers that don’t do enough to combat sexual harassment in the workplace face liability under Title VII. But it doesn’t follow that har­­assed em­­ployees can also sue under state law for negligent supervision. Employees have to be satisfied with the remedies under Title VII and can’t go for a larger jury award under state common law.

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Here’s a case that illustrates at least one advantage for em­­ployers to a union workplace. If your collective bargaining agreement spells out how pay is calculated and excludes time spent donning and doffing work clothes and safety equipment, a contrary state wage-and-hour law doesn’t apply.

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When an employee complains about discrimination and then finds himself part of a reduction in force, he may have a tough time proving that the complaint had ­anything to do with the layoff. But if he then ends up being the only employee never recalled or rehired, he may have a retaliation case.

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A former meat packer at the Smith­­field Foods plant in Clinton has a bone to pick with the company. She claims her complaints about food safety went un­­heeded and uninvestigated during her 18 months on the job.

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Here’s an important reminder that employers aren’t responsible for pre­­venting every ugly workplace incident. Just because someone vandalizes an employee’s property doesn’t mean you will be liable for creating a hostile work environment.

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You may think that time is on your side after you tackled hostility in the workplace. But that isn’t always the case. For example, firing an employee who had to work in a hostile work environment for years may still mean liability, even if you recently cleaned up the workplace.

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Governors might think they have a thankless job, but being told that directly can still sting. Gov. Pat McCrory recently found out exactly how thankless the job can be.

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Salaried retail managers often have to step in and perform nonmanagement tasks. The fact that they do some of the same things that hourly employees do doesn’t mean they aren’t exempt under the FLSA—as long as they are also managing at the same time.

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Poor performance sounds like a legitimate reason to fire someone. That doesn’t mean the employee won’t sue. If that happens, you must be prepared to show that other em­­ployees who held the same position and had similar performance issues were also terminated. If not, you had better be able to explain why.

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