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Legislature restores wrongful discharge claim eliminated by HB2

7.5.2016

We previously wrote a short guide for North Carolina employers on the employment law implications of House Bill 2 "HB2"

HB2 eliminated the state law "wrongful discharge in violation of public policy" cause of action that had allowed employees to sue former employers for discriminatory firings for up to three years after their termination dates. On July 1, the legislature restored the wrongful discharge claim eliminated by HB2.

House Bill 169, "An Act to Restore the State Tort Claim for Wrongful Discharge," restores a fired employee's right to sue alleging he or she was illegally fired based on race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex, or disability. This cause of action has a one year statute of limitations, reduced from the previous three year period. All other aspects of the wrongful discharge claim - including no cap on potential damages - are restored. So, ex-employees may again avoid litigating in federal court if they file only a wrongful discharge in violation of public policy claim in state court, rather than being forced to file a Title VII discrimination claim that the former employer could remove to federal court.

Both the North Carolina House and the Senate voted to restore the claim, and the bill has been presented to the Governor for his consideration. Governor McCrory had specifically requested that the wrongful discharge claim be restored, so he is expected to quickly sign this bill into law.

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