North Carolina News & Analysis

  • Supreme Court bans employment bias against gay and transgender people

    Employment discrimination against individuals because of their gay or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex and therefore is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court decided on June 15, 2020. The 6-3 ruling resolved disagreements among the circuit courts about the scope of Title VII's protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

  • DACA decision protects 700,000 'Dreamers' from deportation

    On June 18, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision blocking the Trump administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, thus protecting approximately 700,000 immigrants, commonly referred to as "Dreamers," from being deported from the United States.

  • Protests and social media posts: Is discipline for off-duty misconduct lawful?

    Whether to discipline employees for off-duty conduct has always been a sticky issue. As protests and social media posts about social injustice increase, however, employers are examining anew their duties to respond to their employees' off-duty conduct that may have an adverse impact on their business reputation or the enterprise itself. Here are some guidelines to consider when confronted with those kinds of issues.

  • Beyond return to work: additional steps to mitigate COVID-19-related claims

    COVID-19 and the related stay-at-home orders have affected every employer differently. Some were able to shift to a telework model, while others modified their workplace operations or closed their doors completely. But as the country moves toward reopening the economy amid the continuing threat of the virus, every employer is grappling with how to protect not only their employees from infection but also their business from liability. Even employers that have prepared and implemented well-designed return-to-work plans are wondering what other steps they can take to protect their businesses from employee claims related to the contagion. We have a few suggestions.

  • What you should know about Trump EO suspending certain work visas through 2020

    When President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) on June 22 suspending the admission of certain temporary workers to the United States, it came after weeks of speculation the directive might call for massive changes to the country's immigration work programs. The actual EO, although broad, was narrower than expected.

  • WPCA amendment offers a welcomed safe harbor for weary wage payers

    In March 2020, the West Virginia Legislature created a "safe harbor" provision in the West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act (WPCA) that, if followed, will allow for an informal resolution to final wage disputes and will provide employers with an avenue to avoid the liquidated damages and attorneys' fees provisions of the Act.

  • Court gives green light to tech sales employee's unpaid commission claims

    The 4th Circuit (whose rulings apply to all North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia employers) recently revived an employee's lawsuit alleging his employer capped his commissions for three large deals despite representing to him in various communications that the payments were uncapped. The case is a good reminder for employers to be consistent in communications to employees about their eligibility to earn and be paid commissions. Even a commission plan with all the bells and whistles may not be enough to defeat a claim for unpaid commissions if the employer has otherwise disseminated information contrary to the written plan.

  • Racial tension coupled with COVID anxiety challenging workplaces in new ways

    It has been a long and tragic spring and summer for employers as well as society at large. The coronavirus pandemic sent legions of workers to the unemployment rolls, and others had to learn how to do their jobs remotely—all while dealing with the threat of an all-too-often deadly disease. Then, on May 25, came news of another black person dying in police custody, the latest in a string of such deaths. The viral video of George Floyd handcuffed on the ground with a white officer's knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes sparked outrage that erupted in massive protests across the country and abroad. Inequality and prejudice—not new issues in the workplace—came to the forefront, leaving many employers wondering what actions they should take.

  • Looking ahead after pandemic: Employers likely to see enduring change

    What's the world of work going to look like in the weeks and months ahead? Some workplaces in some parts of the country will be farther along the road to recovery than others, but few will go back to being just like they were before words like coronavirus, pandemic, and COVID-19 became all-consuming thoughts. The months of business shutdowns, remote work, and uncertainty have changed employee attitudes and employer practices—changes that are important for management to understand as employers move forward.

  • Q - A: Weighing the pros and cons of expanding telecommuting options

    Q Several employees forced to work from home during the pandemic say they prefer it to working in the office and actually feel more productive. Should we be preparing to extend and expand our telecommuting options even after the coronavirus subsides?