Benton L. Toups is a partner in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner.  Benton is a seasoned attorney whose practice focuses on Employment Law, Business Litigation and ERISA Litigation.  Benton is also a certified mediator and is often called upon by his colleagues from other firms to assist them in that capacity. He serves on the Cranfill Sumner COVID-19 Response Team.

Employment Law:

Benton is recognized by his peers as an industry expert in employment law.  Benton represents employers and executives before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Labor, the North Carolina Industrial Commission, and several state and federal courts.  He has extensive experience assisting with claims of harassment and discrimination under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), as well as claims for unpaid wages and overtime pursuant to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act.

Benton is well versed in negotiating and drafting employment contracts, including non-competition, non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, and he has successfully represented clients in multiple preliminary injunction hearings in which the enforceability of such agreements was at issue.

A firm believer in the adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benton counsels business clients on personnel issues and assists them in developing and implementing effective policies in order to avoid employment litigation.  Benton is a frequent speaker on claims avoidance and litigation strategy.

Business Litigation:

Benton represents clients in business disputes, including those involving breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, money owed, and misappropriation of trade secrets and other intellectual property.  As with his employment practice, Benton not only litigates disputes; he works with his clients proactively to avoid them.  Benton is more than an attorney to his clients.  He is a trusted business partner.

ERISA Subrogation and Litigation:

Benton devotes a substantial portion of his practice to representing health care plans in subrogation and reimbursement claims brought under ERISA.  This field of law is complex and ever-changing, and Benton is on its leading edge.  Some of the nation’s largest plans and administrators put their trust in Benton to protect their interests.

Representative Matters

Cases or matters referenced do not represent the lawyer’s entire record.  Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits.  The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.

  • Benton represented a company whose president resigned under circumstances suggesting that, well before his resignation, he was laying the groundwork take advantage of his employer’s confidential information and contacts in order to form a competing enterprise.  The case ultimately resolved with a substantial sum of money paid to Benton’s client, as well as additional terms preventing ongoing misappropriation of his client’s confidential information.
  • Benton obtained dismissal on behalf of a hospital in a case brought by a former employee alleging race discrimination and hostile work environment.  The case was filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, and Benton succeeded in getting the case dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) without the need to for our client to answer the lawsuit.
  • Benton represented a former employee of a software company in a lawsuit by his former employer alleging misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of a covenant not to compete.  After engaging in extensive discovery, Benton was able to negotiate an unqualified dismissal of the case by showing that his client had breached no duties owed to his former employer.
  • Benton was able to obtain recovery of $75,000 on behalf of a former employee of a medical clinic who was unlawfully terminated from her employment after complaining to her supervisor about a shortage in her paycheck.
  • Benton represented an employee of a publicly traded company who was denied promised severance pay when the company suddenly closed its doors and declared bankruptcy.  Unable to proceed against the company due to bankruptcy, Benton pursued claims against former company executives who our client contended were responsible for making the decision not to honor the terms of her severance agreement.  Benton was ultimately able to obtain recovery of more than twice the severance amount initially promised to our client.
  • Benton obtained summary judgment on behalf of a long term care facility in a case of race discrimination brought against it by a former employee.  Benton was able to convince the court that our client had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for terminating the plaintiff.  The plaintiff appealed the district court’s decision to the Federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which affirmed the district court’s decision.
  • Benton was able to obtain a $69,000 judgment on behalf of a self-insured, ERISA qualified employee benefit plan in an action filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina against a plan participant.  The defendant plan participant was injured in an automobile accident, and the plan paid $69,000 in medical expenses on her behalf.  The defendant pursued a personal injury claim against the driver of the vehicle who caused the accident and recovered a sizeable amount.  Pursuant to the terms of the benefit plan, the defendant was obligated to pay the plan back out of the proceeds of her personal injury settlement but failed to do so.  Benton filed suit under ERISA in the Eastern District of North Carolina and was successful in securing a $69,000 judgment on behalf of the plaintiff ERISA plan.

Most Recent Posts


Jennifer Morris Jones and Benton Toups Receive 2024 Leaders in the Law Award

Star award against gradient background

Jennifer Morris Jones and Benton Toups were recently honored as members of the North Carolina Lawyers Weekly Leaders in the Law Class of 2024.  North Carolina Lawyers Weekly presents this peer-nominated award annually to honor legal professionals licensed and practicing law in the state of North Carolina who have gone above and beyond in their profession and their community. These honorees represent the most influential individuals within the state’s legal community.… Read More


Pre-Hiring Issues: Drug Testing

May an employer drug test applicants? Yes. However, an employer must follow the Controlled Substance Examination Regulation Act requirements, N.C.G.S.… Read More


Our Top 10 Resources of 2022

Throughout the year, Cranfill Sumner LLP’s attorneys work diligently to bring the most up-to-date information on North Carolina legal updates… Read More


Benton Toups to Present at Employment Law Panel

On Jan. 19, Benton Toups, Chair of the Cranfill Sumner Employment Law Practice Group, served as a presenter for an attorney panel discussion for the 2020 Employment Law Year in Review. The panel addressed questions from the audience about the unprecedented year we just completed as well as about what we can expect as we transition into a new year, a new administration and in many ways a whole new world.… Read More


Cranfill Sumner Attorneys Volunteer for Legal Aid Eviction Project

paper people chain

In May 2020, Legal Aid of North Carolina launched an effort to help North Carolinians who were struggling to pay rent and were facing eviction. Legal Aid paired available emergency financial support with a search for volunteer attorneys from across the state who could help negotiate past and future payments with landlords.… Read More


Benton Toups Leads NCRLA Webinar


Benton Toups led the “A Whole New World – Predicting Employment Claims in the Wake of COVID-19” webinar on Aug. 19. It was produced by the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association and Cranfill Sumner LLP.… Read More


Benton Toups Presents PLAN Webinar

Benton Toups, a Partner at Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner), was a featured presenter at the “A Whole New World – Predicting Employment Claims in the Wake of COVID-19” webinar presented by PLAN.… Read More


Benton Toups Featured in NCRLA Magazine

“Furlough vs. layoff: Deciding between the two,” an article by Benton Toups, was featured in At Your Service, a publication of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association (NCRLA). The article appears in the Spring 2020 edition of the publication.… Read More


COVID-19: FAQs for Employers

We are in uncharted territory.  Life in America, and many other places around the world, is essentially on hold.  Children are out… Read More


Benton Toups Participates in Safety and Health School Panel

Benton Toups participated in a panel discussion at the 2019 Wilmington Regional Safety and Health School on July 24. The panel discussed “Post Injury Return to Work Issues: Managing Compliance in the Intersection between ADA, FMLA, WC, EEOC and Privacy Laws.”… Read More


Benton Toups Featured in Greater Wilmington Business Journal

Clocking system clock

Benton Toups, Vice Chair of the Employment Law Practice Group at Cranfill Sumner LLP, was recently quoted in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. In “Harassment In The Spotlight,” Benton discusses legal issues surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace.… Read More


Benton Toups to Lead Employment Law Seminar for Hospitality Industry


Benton Toups, an attorney in the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner), will lead “Ten Ways to Get in Trouble with Your Employees and How to Avoid Them” on Nov. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon. The seminar will discuss how to avoid employment lawsuits in the hospitality industry as well as provide an update on state and national legislative issues. … Read More


Cranfill Sumner to Host CE By the Sea

Questions and Answers street sign

On May 20, the Wilmington office of Cranfill Sumner LLP (Cranfill Sumner) will host CE By the Sea. The half-day seminar will be held 9 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Cranfill Sumner office in Wilmington. Complimentary CE Credit is available for Workers’ Comp Adjusters (3 hours) and Human Resources Professionals (3 hours – pending).… Read More


Benton Toups Recognized for Pro Bono Service

Benton L. Toups | Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney Wilmington

Benton Toups, Vice-Chair of the Employment Law Practice Group at Cranfill Sumner, was recently awarded a Pro Bono Publico award by the New Hanover County Bar Association and the Legal Aid of NC, Inc.… Read More


Benton Toups to Speak at Topsail Chamber Event

Benton L. Toups | Alternative Dispute Resolution Attorney Wilmington

Benton Toups addresses the Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce about “What Employers Need to Know About Labor Law” and the basics of employment laws, how they impact small businesses and the increase in statutory regulation that comes with growth.… Read More