North Carolina is an employment-at-will state. The term “employment-at-will” simply means that either the employee or the employer can end the employment relationship at any time for any reason—good, bad or no reason at all. The employer is not required to give the employee a reason. It also means that an employer can treat its employees as it sees fit such as demoting an employee, assigning demeaning tasks, revising attendance policies, or changing a work assignment. This “at will” doctrine applies to every employment relationship in North Carolina. However, there are some exceptions. One is the existence of a signed, written contract between the parties with a start and end date. Several federal laws also provide protections from discrimination and retaliation. For instance, employers may not take adverse action against employees because of age, race, sex, disability, religion, color, national origin, or pregnancy. If you feel that you have been retaliated against for one of these reasons, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Raleigh at 984-275-4800; Charlotte at 980-296-1250; Greensboro at 336-604-5180. The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act is a North Carolina law that also provides specific exceptions to the “at will” employment doctrine, set out in the next section.
The NC Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA)
REDA was passed in 1992 to provide certain workplace protections for employees. It lists eleven statutes that are covered by REDA. REDA prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who in good faith engage in certain activities protected under one of those 11 statutes. These include filing or threatening to file a wage and hour, workplace health and safety, or worker’s compensation complaint or claim. It also prohibits retaliation on the basis of genetic testing, possessing the sickle cell trait or being a hemoglobin C carrier. REDA also prohibits retaliation by employers in certain situations based upon National Guard service, participation in the juvenile justice system, seeking domestic violence protective orders, pesticide exposure, and reporting activities of their employers under the Paraphernalia Control Act. REDA is violated if an employer retaliates against an employee because of these protected activities. To determine if you may have a REDA complaint, click here.
The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Bureau (REDB)
REDB is one of the bureaus of the NC Department of Labor and is responsible for reviewing and investigating employee complaints alleging retaliation by their employers in violation of REDA. for information about filing a complaint and the investigation process, click here.