What is the North Carolina Equal Employment Practices Act (NCEEPA), and can an employer be sued for breaching it?

NCEEPA is a North Carolina state statute that articulates North Carolina’s public policy of equality in employment practices.  Generally, the Act is similar to Title VII in that it prohibits discrimination against employees based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or handicap.  However, the NCEEPA does not provide a statutory right to sue for a violation.  Instead, the NCEEPA may be used as the basis for a common law wrongful termination claim. An at-will employee in North Carolina may only bring a case for wrongful termination if they were terminated due to a North Carolina public policy violation. The NCEEPA is such a policy. 

Practically speaking, the NCEEPA provides employees with a state law alternative for pursuing claims based on discriminatory conduct, which is also made illegal under federal law.  Often, state and federal claims are brought together in the same lawsuit, but there are reasons employees might sue under one or the other.  Namely, the state and federal claims differ concerning damage caps, attorneys’ fees, and statutes of limitation.  However, generally speaking, compliance with the ADA will likely be sufficient for compliance with the NCEEPA.

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The information herein is not legal advice. The information is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter discussed.  The above is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.