NC Labor Board: Everything You Need to Know
NC labor board, also known as the NC Department of Labor, exists to make North Carolina workplaces safe and healthy. 17 min read
NC Labor Board
NC labor board, also known as the NC Department of Labor, exists to make North Carolina workplaces safe and healthy. Its bureaus address various aspects of NC employment, from elevator safety to workplace health.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Minimum Wage
In North Carolina, the current minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Employers who do business in this state must pay all employees at least this amount hourly. The exceptions are agricultural and domestic workers who are paid the federal minimum wage.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Overtime
North Carolina requires by law that a covered employer pays overtime to employees at a rate of 1.5 times the worker’s regular wage for every hour worked above 40 hours in a workweek.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Meal Breaks
Employers must give employees ages 14 or 15 years old a 30-minute break when they work more than 5 hours, as per NC law. No rest break, which is usually 10-15 minutes, or meal break, which is typically at least 30 minutes, need be given by an employer to a worker 16 years of age or older. By federal legislation, employers who decide to give extra breaks must pay workers for them. While employees do not have to get a paid meal or lunch break, they do have to be able to do as they want during this time period.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Severance Pay
Under North Carolina’s labor laws, employers do not bear responsibility for giving employees severance pay. If a worker decides to provide severance benefits, this must be in accordance with the employment policy or contract already in place.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Vacation Leave
NC employers need not provide employees with vacation benefits. This applies to both paid and unpaid leave. If an employer does choose to give employees vacation benefits, then this must follow established contract or policy. Any vacation policy that the employer enacts must include:
- How vacation is earned
- When vacation is earned
- When vacation time has to be taken
- Whether vacation time carries forward to the next year if unused or not
- Whether vacation pay can be paid instead of time off
- Is so, when and under what conditions
- Upon an employee’s separation from employment, under what conditions is vacation pay forfeited
An employer has the right to establish a policy or enter a contract that denies worker from accrued vacation if they leave employment, provided the employer has given the employees proper notification in writing of this policy. An employer can also establish a policy or enter a contract disqualifying employees from paying accrued vacation when they stop working with the company if they do not follow certain guidelines, such as providing 2weeks notice, as long as the employer properly notifies the employees of this policy and it’s in writing. As per NC legislation, employees must pay accrued vacation to an employee upon leaving company employment if a policy or contract says so.
If there is nothing noted in the established policy or employment contract about paying out vacation leave to an employee upon his or her separation from the company, the employer must pay this leave. Thisbeing said, an employer can put a limit on the amount of vacation leave employees are able to accrue; it must be in writing in the vacation policy and employees given notification of it. Also, an employer can enforce a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy that employees must use their leave by a particular date or lose it; again, this must be in writing within the vacation policy, and employees must receive proper notification of it.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Sick Leave
There is no state requirement that employers give employees sick leave benefits, whether paid or not. An employer may, however, decide to provide sick leave benefits, and this must be doled out in accordance with established policy or contract. A requirement for employers is to give employees unpaid sick leave, as per the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other federal legislation.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Holiday Leave
Holiday leave, whether paid or unpaid, is not a requirement of employers to employees. Also, a private employer conducting business in NC can require an employee to work any holiday and does not have to provide premium payment for it, such as 1.5 times the regular wage. The exception to this is if time worked qualifies the worker for overtime pay under standard overtime legislation. If an employer decides to offer holiday leave (paid or unpaid), it must follow employment policy or contract already in place.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Jury Duty Leave
NC law does not require private employers offer workers’ wages for time spent on jury duty leave. This applies to both the time spent replying to a jury summons or to being on a jury. Employees are protected by law against being discharged or demoted because they have been called for jury duty or to sit as a juror.
North Carolina Labor Laws – Voting Leave
No North Carolina law exists requiring an employer give employees voting leave (paid or unpaid).
North Carolina Labor Laws – Bereavement Leave
No employers are required under NC law to provide bereavement leave to employees. This type of leave is typically taken by a worker when the death of a person occurs, who is often a close family member. An employer can decide to give bereavement leave and then must do so by the established bereavement policy or practice.
North Carolina Government Agencies
No state agency enforces anti-discrimination legislation in North Carolina. For a discrimination or harassment case, seek out the local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office at:
- Charlotte District
Suite 400, 129 West Trade Street, 28202
Phone: (704) 344-6682 or TTY (704) 344-6684
Suite 201, 2303 West Meadowview Road, 27405-7813
Phone: (336) 547-4188 or TTY (336) 333-5542
1309 Annapolis Drive, 27608-2129
Phone: (919) 856-4064 or TTY (919) 856-4296
For workplace complaints about health and safety, as well as information, contact the Division of Safety and Health of the North Caroline Department of Labor (NCDOL). They enforce the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina that dates back to 1973, which applies to the majority of private workplaces and all state and local government agencies.
The Division of Safety and Health investigates employee complaints, work-related accidents and details, follow-up inspections of firms who previously violated OSHA, and conducts random inspections of firms. Contact details are:
4 West Edenton Street, 27601-1092
Phone: (919) 807-2900
Fax: (919) 807-2855
Complaint Line: (919) 807-2796 or (919) 662-4309, or toll-free in-state at (800) NC-LABOR
To find out about Unemployment Insurance, contact North Carolina’s Employment Security Commission by mail at P.O. Box 25903, Raleigh, 27611-6504 or contact the central office of the Division of Employment Security at:
700 Wade Avenue, Raleigh, 27604
Enforcing the N.C. Wage and Hour Act, as well s the Controlled Substance Examination Regulation Act, the Job Listing Services Act, and Private Personnel Services Act is all the responsibility of theWage and Hour/Labor Standards Violations State Agency. The Wage and Hour Bureau uses education, outreach services, and investigations to ensure legislation compliance. Contact the Bureau at:
4 West Edenton Street, Raleigh, 27601
Phone: (919) 807-2796 or toll-free in-state (800) NC-LABOR
Wage and Hour/Labor Standards Violations Local Offices of Federal Agency are:
- ESA Wage and Hour Division in Charlotte
Suite CC-412, 800 Briar Creek Road, 28205-6903
Phone: (704) 344-6302
Fax: (704) 344-6307
- Raleigh Location
Suite 260, 4407 Bland Road (Somerset Bank Building), 27609-6296
Phone: (919) 790-2741 or (919) 790-2742
Fax: (919) 790-1656
If a job-related injury or illness should occur, contact Workers’ Compensation office for info at:
North Carolina Industrial Commission
4319 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, 27699-4319
Phone: (919) 807-2500
Fax: (919) 715-0282
Ombudsperson: Toll-free 1-800-688-8349 or (919) 807-2501
North Carolina Didn’t Help Workers Who Were Cheated Out of Wages
Every year thousands of employees turn to the nc labor board to collect wages promised to them by their employer. Fewer than half of them get the wages, and the others get no help. Rarely does the NC Department of Labor take matters to court, which means that many companies get away without paying promised wages to workers.
For example, in 2014, roughly 2,011 employees who asked for assistance did not receive action from the agency on their behalf. This was more than half of the total workers who approached the agency regarding the previous fiscal year. Employers weren’t fined, and no charges were given for the crime of failing to compensate the employee for time and work.
North Carolina’s current Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry runs the NC Department of Labor, and she has the duty to 4 million workers within the state. The nc labor board provides a team of 17 investigators to ensure employers within the state pay employees when they are due. The board is also responsible for inspecting boiler systems and elevators.
Widespread abuse of employees within North Carolina was exposed by The News & Observer and The Charlotte Observer in a 5-part series titled “Contract to Cheat.” These newspapers estimated that 1/3 of NC construction workers are not treated properly under the law. They are treated as independent contractors rather than employees, thus defying the law and committing misclassification, which costs the state over $450 million per year in tax revenue lost. Some workers said they were not given all pay earned. Civil lawsuits take considerable time and getting back wages to employees can be difficult, as per many lawyers.
Why is Inspecting Elevators the Responsibility of the Labor Commission?
The North Carolina Department of Labor is responsible for elevator inspections, as per the Elevator Safety Act of North Carolina. There are 32 elevator inspectors in the nc labor board’s Elevator and Amusement Device Bureau, along with 5 area bosses who do yearly inspections on 22,000:
- Moving walks
- Lifts for disabled persons
This is in addition to inspecting about 6,000 amusement rides. Every inspector has a Qualified Elevator Inspector certificate.
Does it Violatethe Labor Commission to Have an Office Be Overly Cold?
If your employee cubicle is too cold, no OSHA regulation applies to this. Instead, ask your employer if a diverter can be installed to keep cold air from blowing right on you all day.
When Health and Safety Inspectors Come Across a Violation in a Business, Can They Do Anything to Solve the Problem?
It is the nc labor board’s workplace safety and health officials who enforce OSHA. These professionals are trained to point out hazards of all kinds, significant or lesser so, and will dole out citations when seeing fit to do so. The goal of NC Labor is to create safe NC work environments. Work-related injuries and illnesses are currently lower than ever.
If Working for a Small Employer,Does He Have to Pay You Overtime?
Employers must pay all qualified employees who work more than 40 hours in a particular workweek overtime pay that is 1.5 times their regular wage. This is as per both state and federal legislation. This includes any employee who is paid per hour. Small offices are not exempt.
How Do You Start a Claim for Non-Payment for Hours of Work?
The steps are in place so that you first contact the nc labor board. They sometimes refer to the USDOL if there are jurisdictional problems where the federal law supercedes state law (in this case, the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act). If experiencing problems in terms of not reaching a correct office, contact the Wage and Hour Director toll-free at 1-800-625-2267 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. A wage payment complaint involves calling this phone number and giving the related details to an information specialist.
Why are North Carolina State Employees Not Protected by the NC Labor Commission, as the Employees of Private Businesses are?
As per N.C. law, the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act doesn’t apply to NCstate, not to any city, municipal area, town, county, or local agency. The OSHA of North Carolina protects state and local government workers. For employees filing complaints about workplace health and safety issues, contact the OSHA Division of NC Labor. Also, the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act of North Carolina safeguards government workers (state and local levels). This Act protects workers in:
- Mine safety and health
- Workplace safety rights
- National Guard service
- Sickle cell and hemoglobin C carriers
- Juvenile justice system
- Genetic testing
- Domestic violence
Government agencies (state and local) also must follow regulations under the Controlled Substance Examination Regulation Act if carrying out employment-related drug tests.
For a Small Business Owner Carrying Workers’ Compensation, Do Employees Have to Punch a Time Clock, Even When Payment isn’t Commission Based?
It is the employer's responsibility to track hours worked by each covered employee per day and per workweek, regardless of whether they earn via commission, salary, or hourly wage. But the methods by which to keep record is not specified by law, such as time clocks.
What are the Legal Guidelines for Temps?
No federal wage and hour legislation defines the differences between full-time and temporary workers. Employers can create their own definitions for full-time and temporary. Also, employers can craft their own policies for temporary employees. The matter of temp workers is outside of the NC Department of Labor’s jurisdiction.
Get precise answers to your questions about the NC labor board, either as an employee or employer in North Carolina, when you post your legal need in our UpCounsel Marketplace. Your posting will be seen by top employment lawyers who come from leading legal institutions, such as Harvard Law, and work for reputable firms. On average, the attorneys have 14 years of experience to draw from when they assist you.
ilipino, Mexican, Iranian, Russian, and American Indian, and thanks to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, people of these national origins and all other national origins have the right to equal access to employment. Title VII is a law that applies to employers with 15 or more employees and it bans discrimination based on one's ancestry, birthplace, linguistic characteristics (common to a specific group), culture, or accent. Title VII also bars offensive conduct, such as ethnic slurs, that create a hostile work environment, and it requires employers to take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment. When a person is discriminated against due to their country of origin, culture, ancestry, linguistic characteristics, accent, or appearance, they have been discriminated against because of their national origin. A “national origin group” is a group of people sharing a common language, culture, ancestry, and/or other similar social characteristics.
Discrimination involving national origin also includes:
- Discrimination based on marriage to or association with persons of a nationality.
- Membership in or association with ethnic promotion groups.
- Attendance or participation in churches, schools, mosques, or temples generally associated with a national origin group.
- Physical appearance and a name associated with a national origin group.
Aside from Title VII, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) also protects people from employment discrimination related to citizenship or immigration status and bars document abuse discrimination, which happens when employers reject reasonably genuine-looking papers or ask for more or different documents than are needed to verify employment identity and eligibility.
Employers can prefer people of one nationality to another, but this is only allowed when nationality is a "bona fide occupational qualification" for the role, meaning that being of a particular nationality is necessary to be qualified for the job. For instance, being Indian might be a bona fide qualification when playing a character in a film involving an Indian family. That said, instances when it is legal to prefer a particular nationality are quite rare. An employer can't refuse to hire a potential employee because of their manner of speech or their accent, but whether the denial is unlawful depends on that person’s qualifications, the nature of the work, and whether the employee's manner of speaking was a detriment, or would be a detriment, to their job performance.
Requiring applicants or employees to be fluent English speakers is a form of nationality discrimination wherein an employer tests an employee in their English proficiency (their ability to write and/or speak English). Testing applicants in their English proficiency is not a violation if all the applicants are tested. However, if the potential employee is being denied work because of their English proficiency, the employer must show a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for this.
A rule requiring employees to always speak English at work is another form of national origin discrimination, unless an employer proves it is essential for conducting business. If so, employees must be told when English must be spoken and what the consequences of violating this rule are.
Additionally, a non-citizen with valid work papers cannot be denied employment because the employer prefers to hire only citizens of their country—pursuing such a policy is illegal and U.S. citizenship can be a prerequisite for hiring only if it is required by federal, state, or local law, or by government contract.
The Department of Justice's Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) investigates accusations of workplace discrimination pertaining to one's nationality in workplaces with between four and 14 employees, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deals with charges of discrimination related to one's nationality in workplaces with 15 employees or more.
If one suffers discrimination in the workplace, there are a variety of ways they can receive compensation. In organizations with four to 14 employees, they can recover job offers and back pay or receive reinstatement. In organizations with 15 employees or more, they can receive a job offer, back pay, reinstatement, promotion, compensatory damages (for emotional pain and suffering), punitive damages (damages to punish the employer), and other compensation that will make them "whole" (returning them to the condition that they would have been in if there were no discrimination), as well as remedies that may also include payment of attorneys' fees, expert witness fees, and court costs.
Receiving such legal recourse can be complicated, however, and thus if one has suffered discrimination it is recommended that they contact an attorney or a federal or state administrative agency soon after. The OSC handles charges against workplaces employing four to 14 workers, and these charges must be filed within 180 days from when the alleged violation occurred. For workplaces with 15 employees or more, all laws enforced by the EEOC require filing charges with the EEOC (or a cooperating state agency) prior to a lawsuit being brought to court.
Disparate Treatment Under Title VII
Under Title VII, disparate treatment of employees based on national origin encompasses any act that relates to any aspect of employment, including firing, hiring, training, promotion, payment, fringe benefits, and more. Thus, under this law, an employer cannot, for instance, deny a promotion to an employee because of their accent, except when that accent seriously hinders their work performance.Two Spanish-speaking employees, for example, could not be fired for conversing in Spanish to one another if it did not affect the quality of their work.
Also barred under this law is harassment concerning nationality. An offhand comment, mild teasing, or isolated incidents usually don’t constitute prohibited harassment. What does qualify is when this behavior occurs so often or is so intense that a toxic work environment is created or an adverse employment decision results from it. So, for instance, if you are Columbian and your manager makes hurtful, disparaging statements about Latinos on a daily basis, this could be considered harassment. Such conduct could be considered harassment even if your manager is Columbian, too. Likewise, if you are Japanese and your coworkers deride your origins and accent routinely, you might become depressed or angry, lose focus or lash out, and thereby get demoted. If this happened, you might have a legitimate harassment claim, and a harasser could be your manager, one of your coworkers, or even one of your clients.
Disparate Impact Under Title VII
Some employment actions do not seem like discrimination at first sight; however, an apparently neutral employment policy pertaining to all employees can still have a negative impact on groups of certain national origins. For instance, requiring employees to speak only English can have a bad effect on immigrant employees, thus such a policy is not acceptable unless it is necessary to ensure safe, efficient work operations and if it is there for legitimate, nondiscriminatory business reasons only.
Likewise, if a diner had a policy that no servers could wear coverings near their faces or on their heads, it would have a negative effect on anyone who wore turbans or hijabs, and the diner would need to show that such a policy was job related and in effect for a legitimate business need, not for discrimination. A server raising a disparate impact claim could still win if they showed that an alternate policy could have been applied that could have satisfied the same business need while having a less unfavorable impact, and that the employer chose not to apply that policy.
National Origin Discrimination Checklist
In order to keep your organization from being liable for charges of nationality harassment discrimination, the following checklist of HR policies and employment practices that promote an inclusive organization may be of help:
- All job applications and posts should have an equal employment opportunity statement.
- When recruiting applicants and posting open positions, do not:
- State a preference related to nationality (such as “should not speak with a foreign accent” or “looking for only U.S.-born candidates”),
- Only rely on word-of-mouth referrals from current employees (as this tends to result in an applicant pool that can be too homogenous), or
- Send job postings exclusively to non-diverse communities or outlets.
- Do not to reject applicants due to a name that sounds ethnic. One way to avoid this is to redact the names during the initial application review so that ethnic names do not inadvertently influence you.
- In interviews, refrain from questioning candidates on their ancestry, ethnicity, or accent, and do not make any other indirect or direct queries about nationality, even if your only intent is to be curious or friendly.
- If pre-employment testing or background checks are conducted, they should be conducted on all employees or candidates in a given job category and not just on individuals with accents, foreign-sounding names, or other cultural distinctions.
- Employees should not be segregated or isolated in accordance with their nationality. For instance, one should not keep all Indian employees out of the public eye or give all Hispanic employees lower-paying positions.
- Caution should be taken in imposing an English-only language rule—any language restrictions at work must be job related and restricted to business necessity, and they should not be in effect during employee breaks or personal time while on the employer’s premises.
- Your harassment policy should bar discrimination based on nationality and your workers should be trained to avoid stereotypes, ethnic slurs, mocking tones, and the like.
Finally, you should remember that co-worker and customer prejudices or preferences are no justification for discrimination in firing, hiring, discipline, or promotion decisions. A workplace that is culturally diverse can present management with unique issues, but it can also aid employers in staying relevant in an increasingly diverse society.
EEOC Updates Its National Origin Discrimination Guide
In 2016, the EEOC issued an updated enforcement guide on discrimination related to national origin. Intended to promote employer compliance and offer a better explanation of employee rights, the EEOC guide offers numerous examples and HR practices in a wide variety of scenarios that could cause Title VII national origin violations. It also shows how national origin discrimination often overlaps with other protected characteristics like color, race, or religion. Amongst the noteworthy points included in the updated guideline, the following are of especial note:
- National origin discrimination can occur against people from the United States. This occurs when foreign workers are favored over workers from the United States.
- Human trafficking is also covered under Title VII. According to the EEOC, along with holding criminal liability against those who use forced labor and/or exploit their workers, Title VII can also levy civil liability if this conduct occurs against people of a protected class, which includes national origin.
- The joint employer doctrine also applies to the conjunction of client employers and staffing firms, meaning that if both a client employer and staffing firm have the statutory minimum number of employees and the ability to control the employment of the worker, these organizations can be considered joint employers. For instance, a staffing firm may be considered liable under Title VII if prompt action was not taken by it to correct discriminatory actions related to national origin made by the client’s employer.
- A blanket policy to not hire applicants who don’t have a Social Security number can be a violation of Title VII if work-authorized individuals in a national origin group are disproportionately screened out because of it. This is because the EEOC recognizes that employees can choose which documents to use to establish work authorization in the United States and that newly hired employees should be able to work if they have applied for but have not yet received a Social Security number.
- Lastly, it should be noted that preference for U.S. citizenship may be illegal if its purpose or effect is discriminatory on the basis of national origin.
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