North Carolina News & Analysis

  • NC appeals court dismisses employee's workers' comp retaliation claim

    In a recent case, the North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed a former employee's claim that his employer terminated him in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim. In affirming the dismissal of the employee's claim, the court held that the four-month time span between filing his workers' comp claim and his termination was too large to draw an inference that the employer retaliated against him. The case demonstrates the importance of documenting the legitimate, nonretaliatory reasons for adverse actions taken in close proximity to an employee's protected activity.

  • EEOC pursues North Carolina employers

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed two new lawsuits against North Carolina employers. The cases highlight that employee complaints of racial slurs or sexual harassment can lead to litigation if not promptly addressed.

  • North Carolina resort fined by U.S. DOL

    The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Wage and Hour Division (WHD) has announced that the Biltmore Co.—operating as Biltmore Workforce Management Inc. and based in Asheville—has paid $6,938 in back wages to a U.S. applicant for violating labor provisions of the H-2B visa program. The employer also paid a civil penalty of $24,076 assessed by the WHD.

  • Individual coverage HRAs probably not option for 2020

    On his very first day in office, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order instructing federal agencies to lessen the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) burden on the organizations and individuals who were subject to its requirements. More than two years later, the ACA is limping along, but the Trump administration is still working to carry out that order.

  • How to identify and minimize employee burnout

    You may have seen reports recently that the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified employee burnout as a diagnosable medical condition. While that's not exactly accurate, the group has expanded its definition of the term in its latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

  • Agency Action

    DOL takes more steps to advance apprenticeships. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) along with monetary awards in its continuing effort to expand apprenticeships. In the announcement, the DOL said the NPRM would establish a process for the agency to advance the development of high-quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs (IRAPs). A 2017 Executive Order created the Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion, which developed recommendations on how to best expand the apprenticeship model. The new NPRM reflects key recommendations from the task force. The DOL also announced awards totaling $183.8 million to support the development and expansion of apprenticeships for educational institutions partnering with companies that provide a funding match component. The agency also will make available an additional $100 million for efforts to expand apprenticeships and close the skills gap.

  • It's not me—it's you: how to break up with your employees

    Relationships—both personal and professional—can be complicated. Just like first dates, job interviews offer candidates the chance to show a prospective employer the best possible version of themselves: smart, charming, funny, and responsible. As an employer, you ask exploratory questions about a candidate's background, education, interests, and goals for the future to see if it's a good fit. If you both agree that it is, you start a relationship.

  • Workplace Trends

    Tight labor market tops HR concerns, survey says. Attracting talent has surpassed regulatory compliance as the top HR concern, according to the 2019 Paychex Pulse of HR Survey, released on June 24. More than two-thirds of HR leaders reported difficulty finding and hiring quality candidates, up from 59% last year. When asked specifically about challenges related to hiring, HR professionals most often cited finding qualified candidates (49%), retaining their best employees (49%), and finding candidates who fit their company culture (42%). The survey reported that as a result of those challenges, HR teams are increasingly willing to train job candidates who may not check all the boxes for required skills. The survey showed 85% of HR leaders would be willing to train and upskill an underqualified candidate, and 78% said their organizations have already benefited from upskilling underqualified workers.

  • NCDOL issues scam alert over bogus labor law poster pitches

    In an article published in its bimonthly Labor Ledger, the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) has urged businesses across the state to be on the lookout for suspicious correspondence after it recently received multiple reports of companies using scare tactics or threatening language to sell labor law posters to employers. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry stated: "These scams surface several times a year, and businesses, upset about receiving the correspondence, contact us. The threats of fines are bogus and should be ignored. The [NCDOL] provides free sets of labor law posters to businesses."

  • 4th Circuit declines whistleblower protection

    An employee wasn't engaged in protected activity under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's (SOX) whistleblower provision, according to a recent ruling by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions are binding on North Carolina employers). The case provides an important overview of the protections provided to employees who report employer conduct they reasonably believe violates one of six categories listed by Congress: mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, shareholder fraud, or violations of any Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule or regulation.