Visitor Question

Terminated for speaking up for myself?

Submitted By: Addie (Red Springs, NC)

I was hired as an ACTT Administrative Assistant. The office manager quit after the week that I was brought in, and I was asked to help with her job until they found a replacement. I was told that I would not have to do it long. I did it for three months.

They informed me that they sent an offer letter and completed an interview with someone to fulfill the position the week of the 22nd of October. I saw the offer letter, for 40 hours a week and $12 an hour.

But then on Oct. 9th they met with me and stated that they were just going to leave things the way they were and wanted me to move my office to the front, and I would now be the office manager and administrative assistant for the ACTT team. I was originally told I would only be involved with the ACTT team because I would not be able to keep up with 120 clients and everything else.

I asked if I were to take this position would a raise follow, since they failed to give me my 90 day raise. They said they would meet with the CEO and ask. They later informed me that the answer was no and I had to do it. I did not understand why they could not pay me more for doing 2 different jobs, and when they were going to hire someone.

Tuesday when I returned to work, they let me go because I did not want to perform 2 jobs without compensation. I was in the process of moving my office to the front when they informed me that I was greatly appreciated and my job performance was great but they had to let me go for speaking up for myself.

I was already swamped with work and they wanted me to do another job for free, but offered others money for it. I just do not think I was treated fairly. It broke my heart because I am taking care of my husband and mother in law who both have cancer, along with our 7 children. Please let me know if there is something I can do about this. Thank you.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Addie,

While you don’t mention it, you are suggesting you may have the basis of a wrongful termination claim. The State of North Carolina is an “At-Will” employment state.

This means that unless there is a specific law to protect employees, or there is an employment contract providing otherwise, then an employer can treat its employees as it sees fit (including the assignment of demeaning tasks) and the employer can discharge an employee at the will of the employer for any reason, or no reason at all.

It is also up to each employer to decide if its employees may see their own personnel file or not.

There are some exceptions: While termination of employment in North Carolina is at-will, an employer can’t fire an employee if he or she is in a “protected category.”

The most common protected categories are those that protect an employee’s civil rights based on age, race, sex, religion, national origin, color, disability (including the Americans with Disability Act (ADA)), or pregnancy.

It doesn’t appear you are within a protected category. As a result, you don’t appear to have the basis of a viable wrongful termination claim.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 13, 2015

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