Call Corby Law today and obtain experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel regarding the business law in North Carolina governing the hiring and firing of employees. Although North Carolina is an “at will” employment state and the employment-at-will doctrine allows most employers to fire employees at their discretion, this does not mean that you can fire anyone when you feel like it. The reason given for the employment termination must be legal.
For example, you may not fire an employee because you believe that employee has a drinking problem. Alcoholism is considered a disability and thus is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). However, you can certainly fire an employee for drinking on the job or failing to follow company rules because of alcohol consumption. The rule of thumb here is that employers are often able to legally draw the line when the behavior of the employee results in misconduct on the job. Still even in these cases, it is most often in your best interests to seek experienced legal counsel from an experienced business attorney.
As an employer, under the ADA, you are responsible for accommodating an employee’s disability. For alcoholic employees this means that you must give them the opportunity to seek help.
Also, in regard to alcoholism, you could be required to show that you have provided the employee with a reasonable chance for rehabilitation.
You could also possibly be held liable for firing this employee under an implied employment contract or public policy firing restrictions. An implied contract results when the court agrees with the defendant that the employer made some promise that was broken when the employee was fired. The court implies there was a contract even though you may have not knowingly made one with the employee and even though the promise is not in writing.
Whether written or spoken, your words can get you into trouble. If any firing is inconsistent with any stated federal or state policy or interest, the fired employee has a potential claim.
Call Corby Law today and discuss your concerns with an experienced business lawyer. There are many steps that you can take to make sure that you are following employment law when terminating an employee. Knowing what these steps are can help prevent costly lawsuits.