How Does Auto Accident Claims Settlement in NC Work?

An injured man talks to his lawyer about settling a car accident claim.

If you have been in a car accident, then you may be juggling a lot – injuries, time away from work, medical bills, car repairs – in addition to trying to get a fair car accident settlement from the insurance company. That’s where an experienced car accident attorney can help.

Dealing with the insurance company is one of my primary responsibilities when I help my clients who have been hurt in car accidents. I counsel them to limit their interactions with claims adjusters who may ask leading questions in an effort to solicit information that will allow them to limit, or even deny, their claim.

Remember: North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, which means that if you admit any fault for the accident, even 1%, you could be denied any compensation.

In a typical car accident case, I also gather evidence, carefully build the case, and negotiate back and forth with the insurance company in an effort to obtain the best settlement possible. In this article, I’ll answer some of the most common questions I hear about auto accident claims settlements in NC.

What Is the Average Car Accident Settlement in North Carolina?

It’s a fair question – many people want to know what they can expect to receive as compensation for the harms and damages they have suffered from an automobile accident caused by another. Unfortunately, there is no true average car accident settlement number because every auto accident is different and has a unique set of facts associated with it. (For example: How many cars were involved? How seriously were you injured? Who was at fault?) These specifics must be factored into the settlement equation.

Typical car accident settlements can include compensation for the following types of damages:

  • Medical bills, current and future
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Property damage

At my firm, we have settled thousands of car accident cases in North Carolina since we opened our doors in 1997. We have negotiated settlements ranging from tens of thousands of dollars to millions of dollars.1 And these settlements have helped people get their lives back in order. Our attorneys will fight to try to ensure that you are properly compensated for injuries you may have suffered, too.

What Factors Affect the Amount of Car Accident Settlements?

As I mentioned above, every car accident has a specific set of facts associated with it, and those affect the amount of potential car accident settlements. Below are a few possible factors:

  • What medical bills have you incurred because of the accident?
  • Do you need ongoing medical care? For how long and what kind?
  • How much in lost wages have you experienced?
  • Are you able to return to work at full capacity or are you disabled?
  • Do you have pain and suffering?

What Injuries Are Typically Covered in a Car Accident Settlement? 

Settlements for smaller, more common types of auto accidents may cover the following types of injuries:

  • Broken bonesIcon of person holding back from painIcon of person holding neck from whiplashBroken bone icon with red pain bolts from the area of breakage.
  • Whiplash
  • Head, neck, and back injuries

And settlements for more severe accidents may include serious injuries, such as:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Severe lacerations
  • Surgery
  • Internal injuries
  • Road rash
  • 2nd or 3rd degree burns
  • Paralysis and spinal cord injuries
  • Significant skull, chest, or abdominal injuries

Some injuries, such as those that result in scarring or limit your future activities, may also be a consideration for possible pain and suffering compensation.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Settle a Car Accident Claim?

While you do not technically need to have a lawyer to settle a car accident claim, it is advisable to consult with one. You can call our firm at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. You have nothing to lose to see if we can help, and you could possibly gain an ally who will stand by your side and fight for your rights.

Below are some of the benefits we offer our car accident clients:

  • Handling interactions with the insurance company
  • Investigating details of the accident
  • Helping you determine the realistic value of your case
  • Looking into insurance coverage
  • Seeking the most compensation possible
  • Managing filings and deadlines

And remember, you can contact us and get a free case evaluation – with no strings attached!

Can You Afford a Lawyer to Help You Settle Your Car Accident Claim?

Our firm works on a contingency fee basis. This means there is no hourly attorney’s fee associated with your case, and we instead collect a percentage of the total compensation, if we recover on your behalf.2 This payment structure allows everyone the opportunity to work with an attorney.

We want you to focus on your health and returning to work, so we shoulder the burden of building your car accident case, dealing with the insurance company, and seeking the highest possible compensation.

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How Does Workers’ Comp Work in SC? An Introduction

Private employers in South Carolina reported nearly 30,000 (nonfatal) workplace injuries and illnesses in 2020. Under South Carolina workers’ compensation laws, employers in South Carolina with four or more employees are generally required to carry workers’ comp insurance.

Workers’ comp is no-fault insurance. That means, even if you were at fault for your work injury, you are generally covered by workers’ comp benefits. These benefits typically include full medical treatment and Disability payments for the period you’re out of work.

What Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation in South Carolina?

Some injuries typically covered by workers’ compensation include:

  • Acute injuries, such as throwing out your back or a slip and fall – Read more about the most common types of workplace injuries and the three top events that result in lost days from work.

Tip: When you suffer an injury or suspect an injury at work, it’s important to inform your supervisor in writing as soon as possible. This is the first step in filing your workers’ comp claim.

  • Repetitive Trauma Claims These are injuries that are gradual in onset and caused by the cumulative effects of repetitive traumatic events. These claims are often denied when employers and insurance companies dispute that the injury was caused on the job. There can also be difficulties related to injured workers giving their employers adequate notice that the injury or injuries are work related (within 90 days). This happens because these injuries occur over time and employees may not know why they are in pain.
  • Injuries leading to death – Beyond work injuries and repetitive trauma claims, you or a loved one may be killed at work.

Tip: Surviving family members may be entitled to wage replacement benefits for up to 500 weeks, as well as funeral and burial expenses.

South Carolina Workers’ Comp: The 5 Major Players

It’s important to understand the major players in most workers’ compensation claims, as well as how they interact with each other.

Player #1: You

Unfortunately, you’ve suffered an injury at work. You know that workers’ comp is intended to be a safety net for injured workers. You want wage replacement and medical benefits while you heal, and you’re eager to get better, put this behind you, and get back to work. However, when you’re not the only player, even seemingly straightforward situations can get complicated fast.

Player #2: The Employer

While there are some exceptions, the majority of employees are covered by South Carolina’s workers’ compensation employer mandate. After you notify your employer of your injury, they’re required to file a claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Meanwhile, your employer’s insurance company has to determine whether or not they will accept your claim.

Player #3: The Insurance Company

The insurance company is represented by the insurance adjuster. Beware: The insurance adjuster knows the law and is trained in identifying possible weaknesses in your claim.

While SC workers’ comp is no-fault, that doesn’t mean that it’s no-fight. Not every injury is covered by workers’ comp. The way your injury was suffered and the exact nature of your injury can mean the difference between an approved and denied claim.

Player #4: The South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission (SCWCC)

If the insurance company denies your claim, you can appeal your case to the SCWCC, which is the agency that administers workers’ compensation in South Carolina. First, you can request a hearing with a single commissioner. If you’re unsuccessful at this hearing, you can request that a full panel of commissioners review your claim. To increase your chances of a successful appeal to the SCWCC, seek the help of an experienced attorney.

Player #5: The Attorney

As you can see, it seems like it’s you against two powerful entities with their own financial agendas and a faceless government institution. To level the playing field, you want a workers’ comp attorney in your corner who’s looking out for you. Knowing that your attorney is fighting on your behalf for maximum compensation lets you focus on recovering from your work injury.

What to Do if Your Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied

Denied claims for workers’ compensation in South Carolina can be appealed to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. Said another way, if Player #3 (the insurance company) denies Player #1 (you) coverage for an injury sustained while working for Player #2 (your employer), then Player #5 (an attorney) can help you take your fight before Player #4 (the SCWCC).

Some of the main reasons to appeal to the SCWCC include:

  • Your employer didn’t report your injury to the SCWCC when you notified them
  • Your employer denies your injury was work-related
  • The insurance company is not paying full benefits owed

If you are unsuccessful before the SCWCC, your attorney can bring your case to outside courts, including the South Carolina Court of Appeals and the South Carolina Supreme Court.

How Can a South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Help You?

A highly-skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can help you in four principal ways:

  1. Making a workers’ compensation claim is often more difficult than many people expect. First, there’s the process of actually filing your claim, including complex paperwork and crucial deadlines. An attorney can help you with this.
  2. An attorney can also be your shield in communicating with the insurance company. Remember that for-profit insurance companies make more by paying out less. Your best interests are not their priority, but an attorney can help you level the playing field.
  3. After you file your claim, you want to get the medical care you need and focus on getting better. Unfortunately, the insurance company gets to direct your care. If you’re not satisfied with it, an attorney may be able to help you get a second opinion or appeal for different care. Nothing is more important than your health.
Tip: Remember that a denial is often not the end of the road. There are multiple levels of appeal your attorney can assist you with.
  1. As you near the end of your medical care, you may receive major pressure to return to work. What if you don’t feel healthy enough to go back? What if your old job isn’t waiting for you? An attorney fights for your best interests every step of the way.

You’re far from alone in the battle for your benefits. Before you agree to anything, schedule an appointment at our Greenville office or call us any time for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078. We have the experience and resources to help you.

 

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Can You Be Fired for Being Sick in NC? The Answer May Surprise You

It’s happened to all of us. You wake up feeling ill one morning and can’t go into work. You call your manager to let them know, but you get a startling response: if you don’t come in, you’ll be fired.

Is that legal? Should you go into work while sick? Do you need an employment law lawyer?

Unfortunately, the short answer is that your employer is generally not required to provide you with sick leave under North Carolina law. Thus, there is no “right” to be out due to illness and still keep your job. So, is it legal to get fired for being sick under North Carolina law? Generally yes. However, there are certain exceptions to this and other considerations, so read on.

Is your employer violating your rights? Have an experienced attorney evaluate the facts of your case for free by calling 1-866-900-7078.

What Does the Law Say About Sick Days in NC?

North Carolina is an at-will employment state. At-will states are very employer-friendly. Your employer can fire you at will, for virtually any reason — or no reason at all.

As an employee, you have some protections against an employer’s whims.

The first protection is a contract. Terms in a valid contract govern that employment relationship. If you have sick leave under the terms of that contract and follow its procedures, that leave is protected, and you can’t be fired for taking a sick day.

The second protection you have is that your employer cannot fire you for exercising a right protected under the law. For example, you cannot be fired in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or for being out while recovering from your work injury.

Third, you also cannot be fired for a discriminatory reason, such as your skin color or sexual orientation. So, for example, your employer cannot provide sick leave to some people but not others based on a protected category.

You may also be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) or the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), as discussed in more detail below.

Sick Leave Policies

Even if you don’t have a contract, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Though they’re not required, some employers voluntarily choose to provide sick leave as a job benefit. If your employer provides sick leave, they must abide by their published policies. That is like a contract. So can you get fired for calling off if you’re abiding by the published sick policies of your employer? Generally no.

I’m Not Feeling Well but I Don’t Have Any Days: Can I Get Fired From My Job for Being Sick?

Yes. Your employer can make you come into work if you’re sick, and a doctor’s note confirming your illness does not generally compel your employer to give you the day off. Your only potential protection comes under federal law. Note that, as an at-will employee, you are permitted to resign without notice in lieu of going in.

Under federal law, you are entitled to unpaid sick leave in certain situations. An employer may not fire you for exercising this legal right, as North Carolina employers must follow federal law.

You may have the right to sick and medical leave under two different laws: the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Under FMLA, certain employees are entitled to up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. The employee must have their job protected while they are on leave and any health insurance has to stay in effect during this time. An employee out sick under FMLA may not be fired.

If your employer has 50 or more workers, you are generally entitled to FMLA leave for the following reasons:

  • A serious health condition
  • The birth of a child
  • Adoption of a child
  • Caring for an immediate family member with a serious health condition

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

Under the ADA, employers must make accommodations in their sick leave policies for employees with qualifying disabilities. That means that leave must generally be granted under the ADA if an employee asks for a reasonable accommodation, even if the employee has used all of their leave under FMLA or does not qualify for leave under FMLA (if it is not an undue hardship for the employer). The length of the leave is determined on a case by case basis based on what is reasonable in that particular employee’s circumstances.

As you can see, the situations discussed above don’t include feeling under the weather on a given day. They cover specific external circumstances and events.

Can an Employer Punish You for Being Sick (Besides Firing)?

Yes, with some exceptions. The same rules laid out above for firing also apply to disciplining you for being sick:

  1. You can’t be disciplined for being out under FMLA or the ADA
  2. You can’t be disciplined if it’s for a discriminatory reason
  3. You can’t be disciplined in a way that contradicts company policies

Otherwise, you are subject to the disciplining rules of your employer if you are out sick without authorization.

Are You Being Targeted for an Impermissible Reason?

Sometimes, the official paperwork will say that your job fired you for being sick, but you’re really being targeted by your employer for some other reason. Let’s say you are not eligible for FMLA and are not given time off for the birth of a child and someone who is also not eligible for FMLA and has a serious illness is also not given that time off.

As long as your employer is being equally unpleasant and unreasonable to all employees, they are acting within their rights under North Carolina law (and federal law as long as they respect FMLA and the ADA). However, if your employer is taking permissible actions but their motivation is retaliation or discrimination against you in some other way, you may be entitled to compensation.

What Damages Can I Collect if I’m Fired for Taking a Sick Day?

If you can show that you were fired for taking a sick day in violation of company policies, federal law, or for a discriminatory or retaliatory reason, you may be able to collect the following damages:

  • The wages and benefits you missed out on
  • The pain and suffering you experienced
  • Reinstatement to your position, including any missed promotions
  • Legal fees and costs incurred as you fought for justice

When Should I Hire an Employment Lawyer?

Call a lawyer as soon as you suspect something is wrong. Thanks to our contingency fee arrangement, it doesn’t cost more to hire an attorney early in the process since there are no hourly fees. In fact, we only get an attorney’s fee at all if we’re able to recover compensation for you.2

Your attorney is your advocate. Here are just some of the things your attorney can do for you as you fight for maximum compensation:

  • Negotiate and communicate on your behalf
  • Keep track of crucial deadlines for you
  • Gather evidence and interview any witnesses
  • Front all expenses and costs
  • Take your case to trial if necessary

Why Hire an Employment Lawyer From the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin?

So that you can reap the benefits of the James Scott Farrin Advantage:

A powerful team: Many of our attorneys are recognized and decorated professionals. Our roster of talent has produced a massive amount of awards and publications, and several of our attorneys have taught seminars and classes for other attorneys.

A successful track record: In 2021, we were able to obtain over $155 million in total compensation for 4,800+ valued clients. Since our start in 1997, we’ve recovered over $1.4 billion in total compensation for more than 55,000 clients. And that doesn’t even include an additional $1.25 billion we recovered from the federal government in a historic civil rights case.1

No Waiting Around: You read that right. Worried about being kept in the dark while your case languishes? We developed our own patented technology to keep things moving on our clients’ cases. Our processes and procedures have earned national recognition and lots of praise from our clients, including our frequent communication. We will keep you informed, updated, and in the loop throughout the life of the case as we fight for what’s right on your behalf.

The clock is ticking on filing your claim, so call 1-866-900-7078. Any day or time, a real human is available to take your call. One of our attorneys can evaluate the specifics of your case for you. Your case evaluation is completely free and there is obligation to hire us afterwards. It’s time to tell them you mean business.

8 of America’s Most Dangerous Jobs

It goes without saying that working as a Hollywood stuntman is a considerably more dangerous job on average than working as an accountant. But no matter what you do, many everyday jobs pose considerable health and safety risks, which can result in serious disability and even death.

Some of the most dangerous jobs may surprise you, while others you may have expected. Here is a list of 8 of the most dangerous jobs, according to 2020 numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Fishing and hunting workers have a high fatality rate, followed by loggers and roofers.

1. Fisherman/Hunter

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 132.1

Many fishermen and hunters work in incredibly harsh conditions. Fisherman in particular work on the water, where Mother Nature reigns supreme. For every 100,000 fishing and hunting workers, more than 130 will be killed on the job.

71.4% of workplace fatalities among fishing and hunting workers were caused by transportation incidents. For corporate fishermen, manufacturing equipment and accidents are also high on the list of worker’s compensation injury claims.

2. Logger

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 91.7

The rate of fatalities per 100,000 logging workers jumped sharply in 2020. In 2019, there were fewer than 70 deaths per 100,000 workers, but in 2020 the rate jumped to over 90 deaths. It’s easy to see why cutting down trees that are hundreds of feet tall, transporting thousands of pounds of wood, and using high-powered saws and other machinery would lead to injuries and fatalities. Workers are also vulnerable to risks from working in high altitudes and inclement weather. Although most loggers are now protected in a cab, the industry is still a dangerous one.

A logger in an orange high-vis jacket using a chainsaw on a log in a forest.3. Roofer

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 47.0

The average fatality rate per 100,000 roofers was 51 from 2019-2020. Balancing on top of tall buildings in the blazing sun all day makes you vulnerable to injuries and fatalities from incidents like falls and heat stroke. Add in a strong wind, thunderstorms, and equipment like nail guns and saws, and you increase your opportunities for disaster exponentially. Falls pose the greatest danger to roofers, but they also have an increased likelihood of injuries from fire, electric shock, or heavy machinery, making this one of the most dangerous careers out there.

4. Helpers, Construction Trades

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 43.3

There were 976 deaths among employees working in construction and extraction jobs. 771 of those fatalities were construction trade workers. Overall, the construction industry, including building construction, civil engineering, and specialty trade contractors, had just over a thousand deaths (roughly level with the number from 2019). The fatal work injury rate per 100,000 helpers and construction trade workers jumped by 3.3 from 2019 to 2020.

5. Airline Pilot

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 34.3

Being an aircraft pilot or flight engineer is dangerous, but 2020 was safer than 2019 in the industry. Per 100,000 workers, the fatality rate dropped from 2019’s 61.8 to 34.3 in 2020. Flying in a plane may be safer than driving in a car for the average person who spends more time in a car and less in a plane – but not for pilots, who boost their odds of being involved in an accident by increasing their time in the air. Human error, malfunctioning machinery, and inclement weather were the primary reasons for injury and death.

Alaska in particular is responsible for many of the fatalities among pilots. Inexperienced pilots or those flying older planes sometimes cannot combat Alaska’s challenging weather conditions and terrain.

6. Sanitation Worker

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 33.1

Although this listing might surprise some, refuse and recyclable material collectors often interact with dangerous chemicals and heavy machines designed to compress trash or other materials. In 2020, about 33 people were killed per 100,000 workers in the occupation. Sometimes, hazardous waste and sharp materials can also lead to serious injuries short of death.

But it turns out the biggest threat to these workers is other drivers on the road. Remember, sanitation workers have to hop off and on their truck frequently. Many have suffered injuries or even death when other drivers tried to pass them hurriedly on the road, either hitting them or the truck they were in.

7. Iron and Steel Worker/Miner

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 32.5

Collapses are one of the most common dangers structural iron and steel workers face, as well as falls and electrocutions from contact with power lines. Similarly, miners and extraction workers are often either crushed under falling debris, or they are exposed to noxious gases and other fumes. From 2016-2020, 255 workers were killed.

8. Truckers/Deliverymen

Fatality rate per 100,000 workers: 25.8

In both 2019 and 2020, the fatality rate per 100,000 truck and sales drivers was about 26. One of the challenges for this industry is that the trucks must be in tip-top shape and drivers must receive adequate sleep and rest. In the hustle and bustle of shipping, sometimes corners are cut, putting drivers in a dangerous position. Spending a lot of time on the road greatly increases your chances of being in an accident and being injured or killed.

Truck drivers are especially vulnerable because they are driving large trucks that are heavy and are hard to maneuver on the road. They have limited sight distance and are unable to move or stop as quickly. Drivers who are given unsafe vehicles or who are pushed to drive for long hours without rest are at additional risk.

Long Hours on the Road: Taxi/Rideshare Drivers

With the amount of time taxi/rideshare drivers spend on the road, their risk of a car accident is also significantly increased. Plus, these drivers can find themselves at the mercy of their passengers.

Injured at Work? You May Be Entitled to Workers’ Compensation

Whether or not you see your job on this list, you have the chance of being injured at work. There are many common types of work injuries, regardless of your profession. If you’ve been hurt on the job, you should file a workers’ compensation claim.

Learn More: Types of Workers’ Comp Benefits

There are many dangerous occupations and many ways to get injured doing them. If you’ve been hurt, you should have an attorney evaluate your case for free. To speak with a real person any time, call 1-866-900-7078.

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I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that most people agree that you should be paid for the hours you work, right? But what about the hours you are not actually working?

Many people have jobs that include on call hours, such as first responders, apartment complex maintenance employees, IT workers, salespeople, and nurses, which means they are available to work during those hours, though they might not necessarily be on premise. If you are on call, you are supposed to be accessible if your employer “calls” you. Employers usually use on call, or standby, scheduling to try to ensure coverage of a particular skill or service.

For the purpose of this article, I am going to answer some of the most common questions I hear about NC labor laws for on call employees. I will focus on on call pay for non-exempt employees, those employees who are entitled to (or not exempt from) the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) minimum wage and overtime pay protections. But be careful, just because your employer says you are exempt or an independent contractor, it does not necessarily mean you are. You deserve to get paid for all the hours you work even if your employer misclassifies you.

What Does the FLSA Say About Being On Call?

According to FLSA regulations (29 Code of Federal Regulations 785.17), “An employee who is required to remain on call on the employer’s premises or so close thereto that he cannot use the time effectively for his own purposes is working while on call.” That employee is generally entitled to compensation for those hours that he was on call.

The Fair Labor Standards Act on call employee regulations also say that an “employee who is not required to remain on the employer’s premises, but is merely required to leave word at his home or with company officials where he may be reached, is not working while on call.” And that employee is usually not paid for those on call hours.

Now let’s take a deeper dive into questions about labor law for on call employees, compensation, and on call work.

Do You Get Paid for Being On Call?

On call pay requirements depend on if you are considered to be on duty or off duty during this time. The general rule of thumb set out by the FLSA is that employees who are “engaged to wait,” or on duty, get paid, and employees who are “waiting to be engaged,” or off duty, do not get paid. Often, this is decided on a case-by-case basis.

But what exactly does this mean? Let me provide some examples. If your employer requires that you remain on-site while on call, or so close that you cannot use the time effectively for your own purposes, you are usually considered to be “engaged to wait,” or on duty, and should be paid accordingly.

The FLSA offers the following examples of workers who are likely to be considered “engaged to wait:”

  • A stenographer reading a book while waiting for dictation
  • A messenger working a crossword puzzle while waiting on his next assignment
  • A firefighter playing checkers while waiting on alarms
  • A factory worker talking to coworkers while waiting on machinery to be repaired

If your employer allows you to be on call at home or to leave a message where you can be reached, you are generally considered to be “waiting to be engaged,” or off duty, and will not be paid in most cases. As an example, the FLSA claims that a truck driver is “waiting to be engaged” when he is relieved of any responsibility for the six-hour interval between arrival at one destination and the return trip. He will usually not be paid for the time between trips.

What Is Standby Pay?

If you are on call and are called in to work, standby pay laws state that you are to be paid for the hours you worked. Depending on the job, sometimes being called in does not mean you physically have to be at your place of employment.

As a general example, if you are an on call IT tech who spends time on the phone helping a co-worker trouble-shoot a company computer problem, you are working, and you should be paid. If your employer denies you wages for this, you may be being taken advantage of, and we can help you fight back.

Are There Situations Where I Might Get Paid While On Call But Off Duty?

Sometimes, off premise employees can be entitled to compensation for their on call time, even when they are off duty, if their employers have put additional constraints on their freedom.

Here are some of the questions I ask my clients when they tell me that they feel that they should be paid for their on call time away for the worksite:

Gold icon of a ringing cell phone. Number of calls receivedDid the number of calls you received while on call disrupt your time so that you could not use that time as you wanted?
Gold icon of a car's odometer with rising mileage. Distance from work allowedDid your employer ask you to stay within a specific distance from work?
Gold icon of a stopwatch. Response time allowedDid your employer require that you respond immediately to each call?
Gold no or restricted symbol, a circle with a diagonal line through it. Rules for activitiesDid your employer enact strict regulations about what you could and could not do while on call that prevented you from using the time as you wanted?

The answers to these questions may help you and your employment law attorney build a case for possible compensation for those on call, off duty hours away from your place of employment.

How Does On Call Time Work for Hourly Workers?

The FLSA requires that employers compensate the on call time for hourly workers starting with the time that they clock in and start to work, regardless of where they are working. As I mentioned above, if you are on call and required to stay at work while on call, you should likely be paid for those hours.

Tip: Some companies provide on-call pay beyond what is required by law, so be sure to check with your human resources department or supervisor about your company’s on call payment policy.

What About Overtime?

If you are an hourly North Carolina worker and were on duty during your on call time, your employer is required to pay the overtime rate (time and a half) for any hours worked over 40 hours. The misclassification of employees – treating them as independent contractors instead of employees – is becoming more common in today’s workplace.

In a 2017 Harvard Business Review article, David Weil, the Administrator of the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor from 2014-2017, reported seeing this practice spread quickly across sectors like restaurants, residential construction, and trucking and logistics. But this issue is not limited to these industries.

Weil wrote in the same article, “Week after week, it seemed, I was witness to an investigation from our district offices involving the incorrect classification of all types of workers: janitors, home health aides, drywall workers, cable installers, cooks, port truck drivers, and loading dock workers in distribution centers.”

Can an Employer Force Me to Be on Call?

An employer generally has the right to require you to be on call. There are no wage and hour laws that limit the amount of hours a person 18 years of age or older can work, and your employer is free to adjust your hours whether you agree or not.

As you can see, there are many different variables to consider when trying to determine if you are being compensated fairly by your employer for your on call work. I know it may seem daunting at times, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to stand up for your rights. It can be very helpful if you take contemporaneous notes about dates, when you had to answer a call, how long it was, and what personal activities you could and could not do because of the on call work. I also strongly encourage you to seek the counsel of an experienced attorney if you feel your employer has violated your rights.

There are many ways an employment law attorney can help you, and it doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive to get this help. Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis; if we win, we collect a percentage of the total amount we recover for you, instead of charging you up-front costs or hourly fees.2 That’s right, you pay nothing out of your pocket up front. And you can request a free case evaluation online 24/7.

Oftentimes, employers with resources and power can seem intimidating. But you don’t have to fight this fight alone. The employment law team here at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is dedicated to helping workers protect their rights. I have been advocating for workers for years, and I am here to help. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. Together, we can tell your employer you mean business.

A lot of people think that “right to work laws” and “employment-at-will” are the same thing. The truth is that they are completely separate, and the differences between them have a profound effect on workers. They also impact how employees can pursue a case for compensation against their employers.

Functionally, one of these North Carolina employment laws has almost nothing to do with most cases, and the other may have everything to do with them. Here’s what you should know.

Is North Carolina a Right to Work State?

Yes. What most people don’t know is that “right to work” is all about labor unions and how non-union workers are treated. North Carolina’s right to work law (NC G.S 95-78) greatly limits the power of labor unions in the state by making certain arrangements illegal.

The statute says:The right to live includes the right to work. The right to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or non-membership in any labor union or organization.”

There are several ways that labor unions can affect employment for individuals in states without right to work laws. These examples are all illegal in North Carolina.

It's illegal in NC to force new employees to join a union.

The “Union Shop” Arrangement

The first union-related arrangement that North Carolina’s laws ban is the so-called “union shop.” Under this arrangement, an employee hired to work at a company whose labor force is unionized must join that union and pay union dues. In return, the employee gains the union’s collectively bargained rights and benefits.

It's illegal in NC to force new employees to pay full dues if not in a union.

The “Agency Shop” Arrangement

Under the “agency shop” arrangement, a worker hired by a company with a unionized workforce is not required to join that union. However, that employee is required to pay an amount equal to the union dues. In return, the employee again gains the union’s collectively-bargained rights and benefits.

It's illegal in NC to force new employees to pay partial dues if not in a union.

The “Fair Share” Arrangement

The “fair share” arrangement does not require a worker to join a union or pay full union dues in order to work at an employer with a unionized workforce. The new worker is only required to pay a portion of the union dues that, theoretically, fairly compensates the union for its efforts in collective bargaining for benefits for the workforce. The new employee gets those benefits.

What Effect Does NC Right to Work Law Have on Union Labor?

Logically, the right to work law in North Carolina severely limits labor unions. That’s not to say they do not exist. There are 385 labor unions active in the state of North Carolina. However, compare that number to a state without right to work laws, like Illinois, where there are more than 2,900 unions and you can see the effect of the law.

A right to work state like NC has 385 labor unions while a union friendly state like IL has 2900.

All things considered, however, it is difficult to imagine a situation where a worker might file a lawsuit based on North Carolina’s right to work laws. The laws governing the activities that might trigger a lawsuit are the state’s employment at will laws.

What Does At-Will Employment Mean in North Carolina?

Under at-will employment in North Carolina (also known as employment at will), employment is an agreement between the employer and the worker, and can be created or terminated at the will of either party. In other words, an employer can terminate a worker for no reason and a worker can quit for no reason at any time.

Generally speaking, the employment at will arrangement is friendlier to employers, and allows them greater flexibility to make sudden reductions in their workforces to save on costs. However, there are exceptions to the employment at will law that you should be aware of.

Employment Contracts Generally Replace Employment at Will in North Carolina

If you have an employment contract, the rules for why you can be terminated and the process required to resign will likely be detailed in the contract. Because you and your employer agreed to a contract, you’re no longer employed at will. Consult your contract for the terms of your employment, or an attorney if you’re having a problem.

Can an Employer in North Carolina Fire Me for Any Reason?

Employers can generally terminate employees at will, but exceptions do exist. There are cases in which North Carolina’s employment at will laws do not apply, and for a variety of different reasons. These include (but are not necessarily limited to):

  • Discrimination – Employers cannot discriminate against protected classes as outlined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, including race, color, religion, national origin, and sex (including pregnancy, gender identification, and sexual orientation). North Carolina law adds HIV/AIDS diagnosis/status, military service, sickle cell anemia or hemoglobin C diagnosis/status, and users of a lawful substances as protected classes as well.
  • Retaliation – Under the Retaliation in Employment Discrimination Act, an employer may not fire you because you were injured at work and made a worker’s compensation claim. Also, if you took time off to file a domestic violence restraining order, made a safety complaint to OSHA, NCDOL, or because your employer is violating mine safety, pesticide law, or proper storage of drug paraphernalia, your employer can not retaliate by firing you.

If you were wrongfully terminated or discriminated against, you should consult with an employment law attorney to figure out if you have a case and what compensation you may be able to seek.

The State Personnel Act, “Just Cause,” and Other Exceptions to Employment at Will

State employees, generally speaking, are not “employed at will” in North Carolina. Their employment terms are governed by the State Personnel Act. Without delving too deeply into the details, once most state employees have passed a probationary period at the beginning of their employment, they can only be terminated for “just cause,” which is specified in the statute.

State entities and municipalities may also pass ordinances that change the status of their employees away from employment at will.

If You Believe You Were Wrongfully Fired, Contact an Attorney

No matter where you are employed, there’s always the possibility that you may be mistreated or terminated from your job unfairly. You should not let an employer unfairly take away your ability to make a living, and that can happen (and sadly does happen).

This blog is not an exhaustive guide, but should serve to give you a good idea of the difference between “right to work” and “employment at will” in North Carolina. I encourage you to contact an attorney if you believe your rights have been violated. Sometimes, it can be hard for the average person to even know when they’ve been unfairly treated.

As an employment law attorney, I can say with confidence that it happens often. Fight back if it happens to you. You can always call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You shouldn’t stop looking for a better job – there’s almost always one out there – but don’t let someone violate your employment rights either!

You may assume that there are laws in North Carolina dictating who is entitled to paid vacation days or ensuring that all employees receive paid time off for nationally recognized holidays such as Christmas and Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

A black pen on an employment contract attached to a blue clipboard.There are no NC labor laws on vacation pay, and there are no NC labor laws regarding holiday pay, either. On a federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require employers to pay employees for hours that they did not work, and this includes holidays and vacation days.

It has been my experience as an employment law attorney that employees must be uber-vigilant when contracting with their employers about the specifics of their job, benefits, and pay. If your employment contract includes vacation time, you should be paid for any earned vacation time. And if your contract includes time off or extra pay for working holiday hours, you should be compensated for that work. If you are not, your employer may be taking advantage of you.

Worker Protections for Holiday and Vacation Days

While you are not entitled by law to receive pay for holiday and vacation days, you do have rights regarding your pay that you need to protect.

Employer discrimination against a person or group when making vacation and holiday pay decisions is regulated by law. If an employer offers vacation pay to some employees and not to others, there may be a pattern and practice of discrimination.

There are several federal laws that specifically deal with employment discrimination:

  • The Civil Rights Act (Title VII) protects employees from discrimination in compensation based on race, color, religion, national origin, and sex.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects workers with disabilities.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) protects pregnant workers.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) protects workers who are 40 years or older.

Discrimination has no place in the workplace. The employment law team at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin fights hard for employees who feel that their employers have made discriminatory decisions about their vacation and holiday pay.

In this article, I will share with you several questions about vacation and holiday pay that I have encountered when helping clients determine if their employers are treating them, and paying them, fairly. Read on to learn more.

What Are the North Carolina Labor Laws on Vacation Pay?

There are no North Carolina laws that require employers to offer their employees vacation pay. Instead, the law states that employers are under no obligation to provide vacation pay.

“No employer is required to provide vacation pay plans for employees.” Source: N.C. General Statute 95-2.12

It is important to note that North Carolina law does require employers to communicate their established pay policies with their employees.

Female employee looking at a large cork bulletin board at work.“In North Carolina, an employer must make available to its employees, in writing or through a posted notice maintained in a place accessible to its employees, employment practices and policies with regard to promised wages.“ Source: N.C. General Statute 95-25.13(2)

Furthermore, if your employer does not notify you of any policy or practice that results in loss of vacation time or pay, the statute states that you are not subject to the loss of that vacation time or pay. Additionally, if you have already earned vacation time, your employer cannot retroactively change the policy. They can only apply it moving forward.

Because NC does not mandate vacation pay, the details of how much vacation time you may get and how it is allocated are dictated by what you and your employer have agreed to do, or not do, in your employment contract. I encourage you to have an experienced employment law attorney carefully review the specific terms of your employment offer and contract if you feel that you employer may not be paying you fairly.

What NC Labor Laws Regarding Holiday Pay Are There?

There are no North Carolina laws requiring your employer to give you time off (paid or unpaid) for holidays. Also, employers are not required by law to pay you extra “holiday pay” if you work on a holiday. The law considers holidays to be just like other business days, and your employer is allowed to decide whether you have to work on these days if you work for a private company. However, the majority of North Carolina employers tend to observe at least six paid holidays.

Many employers observe certain holidays by closing down their offices, and some may pay their workers for these days off, while others may not. Employers may decide to pay holiday pay for one type of employee, such as full-time workers, and regular pay for another classification of employee, such as part-time workers. This is usually legal and up to the employer to decide. But employers cannot discriminate against protected classes when making these decisions – the decisions cannot be based on your race, color, religion, national origin, and/or sex.

As with vacation pay, North Carolina law requires employers to communicate their established holiday pay and leave policies with their employees. Look at your employment agreement and at any posters placed in common areas at work and take note of exactly what they say.

Your employer should indicate in your employment contract which, if any, holidays you have off, and if you were to be paid for that time off.

Check your benefits package, employee manual, or employment contract to see what your employer’s policy is for paying for holiday work. If there has been no communication about this or your employer is not following the policy, let an employment law attorney know. North Carolina law requires employers to communicate their wage benefit policies in writing.

If I Am a Government Employee, Do I Get Paid Holidays?

If you are an employee of the North Carolina government, you are entitled to a maximum of 11 paid holidays off, except when Christmas falls on a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. In those cases, N.C. General Statute 126-4 states the employees are entitled to a maximum of 12 paid holidays off.

Are There North Carolina PTO Laws?

PTO, or Paid Time Off, is not regulated by law in North Carolina. Just as with vacation and holiday time off and pay, employers are only required to honor the terms of their employment policies and contracts if they elect to offer PTO. The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that covers unpaid time off and entitlement to unpaid time off.

North Carolina allows employers to implement a use-it-or-lose-it policy for employee PTO. A use-it-or-lose-it PTO policy states that you must use your PTO by a certain date or risk losing it — no rolling it over to the next year and no cashing it out. This type of policy limits your employer’s payout liability to employees who don’t use their PTO for vacation or sick time.

The state of North Carolina requires employers to post notices in writing of any policy, such as this one, so that you are fully aware of the policy before their time expires. If your employer does not comply with this requirement, you may miss out on pay that you have earned.

Do You Have to Be Paid for Unused Vacation Time?

North Carolina does not require employers to pay employees for unused, or accrued, time off. An employer’s policy or employment contract governs whether earned, unused vacation is paid on separation. However, if your employment policy and contract do not specifically address what happens to accrued vacation time, then your employer must generally pay you for unused vacation time upon termination.

An experienced employment law attorney can review your employment contract and policies and advise you on whether your employer may owe you accrued vacation pay.

Am I Entitled to Vacation Pay if I Quit?

While there are no specific NC labor laws on vacation pay after quitting, you may be entitled to your unused vacation pay, even if you quit.

Some companies have a policy of paying departing employees for any accrued vacation time they have not used, and other companies don’t. It all boils down to what is or is not stated in the company policy.

Companies who neglect to outline and communicate a policy for dealing specifically with accrued vacation time and termination are generally required to pay you any accrued vacation pay.

How Can I Determine if My Rights Were Violated?

If your employer is not following the guidelines set in your employment contract, they are possibly violating your employee rights. These rights may also be in danger if you can identify a pattern of discrimination in who gets paid vacation days and holidays.

If you have accrued vacation days and holidays that your employer refuses to pay when you separate from the company, double check your employment contract closely to see if this is a violation. Your employer has until the following regularly scheduled pay period to pay you all remaining earned wages, such as eligible vacation pay.

Employers often have the advantage of power and resources in the employer-employee relationship. I suggest that you try to upset that imbalance by seeking the advice of an experienced employment law attorney.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Believe My Rights Were Violated?

If you think your employer is treating you unfairly in terms of vacation and holiday pay, a lawyer can help you understand if you have a viable case and guide you through the process of fighting for your employee rights.

Critical things an employment lawyer can do for you include:

  • Reviewing your employment contract and deciphering its legal jargon to determine what exactly you and your employer have agreed to in terms of holiday and vacation pay
  • Trying to identify patterns of behavior that may prove a practice of employer discrimination
  • Building a possible case to claim unpaid wages

If you decide to file a complaint against your employer, an attorney can help you gather evidence, follow proper procedures, and file the complaint with the appropriate office.

You may be asking yourself, “Can I afford an attorney?” At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, there are no up-front costs or hourly fees to worry about. Instead, we work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only collect an attorney’s fee if we are able to obtain you compensation, and that fee is a percentage of the total amount recovered for you.2

What Kind of Compensation Could I Receive?

The amount of compensation you may receive largely depends on the agreement you made with your employer when you accepted the position. Did you employer agree to pay you for accrued vacation pay upon termination? Were policies about paid holidays and PTO specified in the contract? The terms of your employment contract should dictate if and how you are to be compensated for vacation and holiday pay.

If you are not receiving your earned vacation or holiday time, your employer may be taking advantage of you, and it may be a warning sign that they are violating other wage laws as well. If you are concerned about your employer’s behavior, I urge you to get a free case evaluation today.

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When considering what constitutes full-time work in North Carolina, it’s important to understand that this is an at-will employment state. What does that mean? According to the NC Department of Labor, employment at-will means employers can treat employees pretty much however they want. They can assign demeaning tasks and fire you for virtually any reason (or no reason at all) as long as it is not for an impermissible, retaliatory, or discriminatory reason. Basically, employers have most of the leverage and power.

And that power largely extends to determining what qualifies as full-time hours.

How Many Hours Is Full Time in NC?

Under North Carolina law, your employer gets to decide how many hours qualifies you as a full-time employee. As long as the hours are laid out and applied consistently, the definition of full-time is almost entirely at your employer’s discretion.

Did You Know? While many people think of full-time as 40 hours a week, things are not defined that way under NC law. Full-time in NC is generally whatever your employer says it is.

It can be an odd concept to wrap your brain around. How many hours per day do you need to work before you’re considered full time? Your employer decides. How many hours per week before you earn the designation of full-time employee? Your employer decides. What additional responsibilities do you need to fulfill to be considered a full-time employee? Your employer decides.

Tip: While employers get to decide the definition of full time, the number “40” does carry some weight. Under federal and state law, non-exempt workers must be paid overtime for hours worked over 40 in a span of seven days.

Does the 2020 NC Overtime Law Change Help Me or Hurt Me?

It helps you if you are an overworked but underpaid salaried employee. Under the 2020 NC overtime law change, being a salaried employee does not necessarily exclude you from overtime pay requirements. If you are a salaried employee who worked in excess of 40 hours for a workweek, you may be entitled to overtime pay unless you are exempt.

To be exempt, a salaried employee — typically executives, supervisors, administrators, and certain professionals — must be guaranteed a salary of at least $684 per workweek and either have real managerial duties, make policy decisions, or be part of certain professions. If you are salaried, do not have those duties, make less than that per week, and are required to work overtime, you are likely entitled to time and a half for all hours over 40.

What About for Insurance Under the Affordable Care Act?

If a company has 50 or more full time employees, they are required under federal law to provide certain health insurance benefits to each of their full time employees. For these purposes, federal law is paramount, and you are considered full time at 30 hours a week or more. Employers who misclassify employees in order to avoid providing benefits are subject to serious penalties. Outside of this consideration and a few others, state employment law sets the rules.

Do you feel you are being taken advantage of, or do you need help interpreting the complicated legalese of your employment agreement? See if we can help with a free case evaluation.

Am I Entitled to Benefits as a Full-time Employee in North Carolina?

Under North Carolina law, working full time doesn’t entitle you to anything except what your employer says it entitles you to. For example, your employer does not need to provide a raise once you achieve full-time status. Remember that federal law imposes a mandate regarding health benefits specifically once you reach full-time under the rules of the Affordable Care Act (30+ hours).

Your employer may offer benefits to part-time employees, full-time employees, both, or neither, so long as it is all decided in advance, applies to all people who are categorized that way equally, and the employer abides by whatever was decided. Now, most commonly, you may see employers going the traditional route of a 40-hour schedule and benefits for full-time employees. But this would be an “incentive” by the employer to lure in the best candidates, not a requirement under North Carolina law.

How Many Hours Is Part Time in NC?

An employer can set up nearly any part-time vs. full-time structure they like, so long as they clearly communicate and abide by this policy. Indeed, the distinction has such little meaning under North Carolina law that your employer can switch you from full to part time at will — without informing you — so long as you keep everything you earned until the switch. If you don’t like it, the theory goes, you are free to quit at will.

If you are non-exempt, there is no minimum number of hours for which you must be paid and no minimum number of hours for which you must be scheduled.

If a part-time non-exempt employee comes in or is called in for a shift but then is sent home, the employer is only responsible for the time the employee was doing work or waiting to do work. If you are paid hourly and are non-exempt, you’re not entitled to any payment for the time and inconvenience of travel, even if it’s for a short shift, or infrequent shift, or unexpected shift.

In fact, even if you travel a long way on your employer’s request and show up for work, but your employer meets you at the door to the business and tells you to go back home, you are not entitled to anything. However, if your employer provides minimum payments or hours as part of written company policy or your specific employment agreement, then they are bound by those terms. Additionally, if you are salaried and categorized as exempt, your employer cannot dock your pay for not having work for you to do, or for sending you home. If this is happening to you, you may be misclassified as exempt.

What Happens if a Part-time Employee Works Full-time Hours?

Part time in North Carolina does not mean there is a cap on hours. In addition, your employer can:

  • Adjust your hours at will, even after they’re scheduled
  • Make you work days, nights, or weekends as a condition of employment
  • Have you work an unlimited number of days in a row, as long as they pay you overtime
  • Assign you a shift of however many hours they choose, and as many of that type of shift as they choose
  • Call you in on your day off
  • Make you work overtime with no advance notice
  • Assign you a shift that interferes with a critical event in your personal life

Am I Powerless at Work?

Outside of any employment contract, you have two main wage protections under federal and state law. These protections apply to both salaried and hourly employees:

  • You are entitled to at least minimum wage. The minimum wage is currently $7.25.
  • You are entitled to overtime (time and a half) for hours worked over 40 in the week if you are a non-exempt employee.
Even tipped employees must be paid minimum wage, but their employer may combine their hourly wage with tips to reach this number. If you have questions, contact an employment law lawyer.

What Happens to ACA-Mandated Medical Benefits When a Full Time Employee Is Not Working Full Time Hours?

What happens if an employee is classified as full-time but only works part-time hours for several weeks? Do they risk losing their benefits?

Here’s how it works: Employees are measured by their employers periodically to determine their average hours. Following the measurement period is an enrollment period. The enrollment stage is followed by a stability period, where changes can only be made to coverage in extreme circumstances.

If you are determined to be full-time under the ACA during a particular measurement period, you can register for benefits. If you enroll in a coverage plan, this plan will apply for the entire stability period (often a calendar year) even if you drop to part-time during that time. If, at the next measurement period, your overall hours for the period do not average at least 30 per week, then your employer may drop you from coverage for the next stability period.

What Is the Minimum Number of Hours for Full Time? The Maximum?

There is no minimum or maximum number of hours for full-time employees under NC labor laws. If your employer says you are full time, you are full time. Your employment agreement or company policies may have rules specific to your workplace or position.

Employer Leverage Is Not Unlimited

While at-will employment can leave a North Carolina worker vulnerable, you still have rights. If your employer offers male employees full-time benefits but keeps all the women at part time with no benefits, for example, you can still fight back. And you should.

If you have questions about your particular situation, request a free case evaluation by calling 1-866-900-7078 or chatting with someone 24/7/365. An attorney can help you level the playing field.

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Are there specific NC laws for salaried employees? What about for exempt employees? And what’s the difference between a salaried employee and an exempt employee? As a North Carolina employment law attorney, I hear many questions like these. And most of the time, people are trying to get a handle on whether or not they are eligible for overtime pay.

Below I have answered some of the most common questions I have been asked by exempt workers who are unsure whether their employers are treating them fairly, or even classifying them accurately. I’ll start with an overview of the NC exempt employee guidelines and then drill down into more detail as the questions get more specific.

My intent is to explain a bit about the basics of NC labor laws on overtime exemption to help you understand what your rights are as an exempt employee. If you need guidance in protecting those rights, please contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free case evaluation. We are here to help.

What Is an Exempt Employee and Who Falls Into This Category?

Exempt employees are workers who do not qualify for federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) provisions, which means that:Exempt employees do not receive overtime pay.

  • They aren’t required to make at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked
  • They don’t qualify for overtime pay of at least time and a half of regular pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek

The North Carolina Wage and Hour Act (NCWHA) follows these same federal guidelines.

To be an exempt employee, you must meet all three of the following qualifications in North Carolina:

  • You must be salaried.

This means you must have a consistent and designated rate of pay regardless of how many hours you work.

  • Your salary must be at least $684 per week or $35,568 per year.

If you are a “computer-related” employee, you may be paid $27.63 per hour instead.

  • Your job must meet a specific duties test.

Your position must include specific duties assigned to “white collar” employees (executive, administrative, or professional), “computer-related” employees, or “outside sales” employees.

Exempt computer-related employees are those who are primarily engaged in computer systems analysis and programming, such as computer systems analysts, computer programmers, and software engineers.

Exempt employees get paid ≥$684/week. Non-exempt employees qualify for overtime & minimum wage.

Do not be fooled by your title. Just because you have been given the title of “manager” does not mean you automatically fall under the “white collar” exempt classification. The law requires examination of your job responsibilities, in addition to your title, to determine if you are exempt from wage and overtime laws.

The following are some of the factors considered:

  • Do you regularly supervise two or more employees?
  • Do you have the power to hire and fire employees?
  • Is your opinion on personnel matters given additional weight?
  • Do you primarily work with customers?

If you have the title of “manager” and your employer has classified you as exempt, but you are spending less than half of your time at work performing some of the above tasks, your classification may be wrong. You may be entitled to recover wages if your employer has misclassified you as an exempt employee. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Salaried Does Not Mean the Same Thing as Exempt

You can be salaried and exempt, but these words are not synonymous. Salaried refers to the payment structure of being paid a fixed amount of money per year. And this is only one of the three requirements of being exempt. Exempt refers to not being eligible to receive overtime pay or qualify for minimum wage. To be exempt, your job must meet the $684/week minimum requirement and meet the duties tests described above, in addition to being salaried.

Salaried employees received a predetermined amount of pay each pay period on a consistent basis.

There is a common misperception that all non-exempt employees are paid on an hourly basis. Under the FLSA, non-exempt employees can be paid hourly, salaried, piecemeal, on commission, etc. as long as their weekly pay equals at least minimum wage for hours worked.

Therefore, you can be salaried and non-exempt at the same time. For example, if you are paid a weekly salary of at least $290 (minimum wage of $7.25/hour x 40 hours) and your employer designates you as a “salaried, non-exempt” employee, you could still be entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA even though you are salaried.

You cannot be paid hourly and exempt at the same time because being salaried is one of three qualifications you must meet to be exempt.

Types of Exempt Occupations

In general, occupations that involve “white collar” duties are exempt if they are salaried and make more than $684/week. This can include teachers, human resources administrators, scientists, executives, managers, artists, inventors, lawyers, and doctors. In some instances, jobs involving “outside sales” or “computers” that have a $684/week minimum salary may be exempt, as well.

There are multiple industries that you may assume have non-exempt employees that instead generally have exempt employees. These include:

  • Farm workers (as long as they are not minors)
  • Seasonal amusement and recreational businesses workers
  • Fishing, railway, and transportation services employees
  • Apprentices
  • Workers with disabilities
  • Employees of small newspapers
  • Broadcasters
  • Live-in domestic workers
  • Many others that may not seem intuitive

Do Exempt Employees Get Overtime?

No, if you are an exempt employee in North Carolina, you do not qualify for overtime pay.

There are good and bad things about being an exempt employee. On the positive side, you generally will earn more money as an exempt employee than you would if you are working at a non-exempt job. If you break down the minimum wage level for exempt employees ($684/week) to an hourly amount ($684/40 hours = $17.10/hour), you will be paid above the $7.25/hour minimum wage as an exempt employee unless you work 94 hours a week.

However, it also means that you are not eligible for overtime and your employer can pay you less than minimum wage. If you work 40 or 100 hours, you would still get paid the same thing. That may mean that you may work a lot more hours as an exempt employee without additional compensation.

If you are non-exempt, you may get a lower wage, but the law states that you will at least get minimum wage for each hour worked and that you are paid time and half for any hours over 40. That also means your employer may think twice before asking you to work more than 40 hours.

What Laws Are Specific to North Carolina’s Exempt Employees?

The public policy behind the NCWHA is to “protect those who, as a matter of economic reality, are dependent upon the business to which they render service.” State law largely mirrors the FLSA, but has additional protections.

For example, North Carolina exempt employee laws require that employers generally must:

  • Prove that an employee is exempt by “clear and convincing evidence”
  • Pay wages when due and on a regular pay day
  • Provide 24-hour prior notice for reduction in pay and must provide notice of compensation policies and practices
  • Pay accrued vacation pay

Employers are not generally required to pay exempt employees overtime, comp time, or minimum wage or provide paid-for breaks under NC and federal law. The employer is actually “exempt” from following those laws.

When Can Employers Not Pay an Exempt Employee?

This is an important question. North Carolina labor laws for exempt employees state that an exempt employee must be paid “a predetermined amount constituting all or part of their compensation … without regard to the number of days or hours worked.”

If your employer is deducting amounts from your paycheck for things such as lost equipment costs, time away from work for personal reasons, jury duty, or other things, this may be a sign that you have been misclassified as exempt.

There are valid deductions your employer can make to your pay, according to the law for NC exempt salaried employees. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor lists the following valid circumstances in which an employer may make deductions from an exempt employee’s pay:

  • Penalties imposed in good faith for infractions of safety rules of major significance
  • Unpaid disciplinary suspension for violations of workplace conduct rules, such as sexual harassment or workplace violence
  • Theft, which if proven, can also reduce your wage below minimum wage
  • To offset amounts received as a jury member or witness, or for military pay
  • Full salary for the first or final week of employment
  • One or more full-day absences for a personal reason other than sickness or disability
  • One or more full-day absences due to sickness or disability if the deduction is made according to a bona fide plan, policy, or practice of providing compensation for salary lost due to illness.

In addition, employers may generally make pay deductions for exempt and non-exempt employees for the reasonable cost of furnishing employees with board, lodging, meals at a company restaurant, dorm rooms and tuition for student employees, general merchandise furnished at a company store, and fuel and transportation for personal use. Employers are also not required to pay bonuses that have not accrued at the time of the employee’s last day.

What Are Invalid Deductions for Exempt Employees?

If you are an NC salaried exempt employee and your employer made deductions from your pay for the following circumstances, your rights as an exempt employee may have been violated:

  • Absences caused by your employer or by the operational needs of the business (such as your boss closing the store early because there are no customers that day)
  • Absences for sickness or disability, unless it is part of an unpaid FMLA claim
  • Deductions for the quality or hours of work performed (unless for a full day off for personal reasons or FMLA leave)
  • Deductions for lost or broken equipment

Employers are not generally permitted by law to deduct pay from any employee (exempt or non-exempt) for any equipment, tools, or uniform required by the employer or for transportation costs that are a part of the job.

How Many Hours Can a Salaried Employee Be Forced to Work in North Carolina?

There is no maximum limit to the number of hours a salaried employee can be asked to work.

North Carolina law does not set the maximum hours that exempt, or salaried, employees are allowed to work in a day. The important distinction is not whether someone is salaried, but whether they are exempt or non-exempt.

Have you been misclassified? Employers may misclassify employees as exempt when, in fact, they are really non-exempt. If this has happened to you, it may mean that your company owes you hours of overtime pay that they are legally required to pay you. If your work is not managerial, administrative, or professional and not one of the specifically designated exemptions, your employer may have misclassified you as exempt and may owe you money. Also, if you make anything less than $684 a week, you are generally non-exempt. I urge you to talk to an employment law attorney as soon as possible!
Law Offices of James Scott Farrin

Are There Any Protections for Exempt Employees?

Yes, exempt and non-exempt employees are equally protected by all employment laws – with the exception of overtime and minimum wage provisions which only apply to non-exempt employees. That means that the anti-discrimination employment laws (such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, ADEA, EPA, ADA, PDA),  FMLA, OSHA, workers’ compensation, unemployment compensation, and retaliation laws for reporting violations of the law, as well as many other laws, still protect exempt employees.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we can help you fight for your rights as an exempt employee and provide guidance on next steps if you’ve been misclassified by your employer. Call us today at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.

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As we gear up for Thanksgiving and the year-end holiday travel season, our Durham car accident lawyers want to take a time-out to urge you and your loved ones to make safety a top priority.

Car on a road in a misty forest with its headlights on.Although we often hear about the awful wrecks that occur on our highways, a study by AAA Carolinas indicates that more traffic deaths in North Carolina occur on rural roads. Although rural roads accounted for a low amount of the vehicle miles traveled, they accounted for an outsized portion of the state’s traffic fatalities.

And a recent report by NPR indicated that of the nation’s approximately 37,250 annual traffic fatalities, nearly 60 percent occur on rural roads. In some states, more than 90 percent of car accident related deaths occur on rural roads. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drivers on rural roads die at a rate of 2.5 times higher per mile they travel than those on urban highways. In other words, those who travel in urban areas drive twice as many miles but suffer about half the number of fatal accidents.

Why is this?

For one thing, rural roads tend to be narrower. They may have lower shoulders, more curves, faded or non-existent road markers and street lights and far fewer police officers patrolling. This means people may be more likely to speed or take these routes if they are intoxicated – putting you and your family at risk.

The most dangerous rural road in the country has been identified as a stretch of lone highway in Utah. In the last 10 years, there have reportedly been more than 520 fatal accidents on that road. Of those, NPR reported:

  • 117 were at night;
  • 280 were during the day;
  • 260 were in clear weather conditions;
  • 84 were in poor weather conditions;
  • 9 involved crashes with animals;
  • 32 cases involved a DUI;
  • 46 involved driver fatigue;
  • 145 involved speeding;
  • 288 involved driving off the road.

In North Carolina, 1,658 people were killed in crashes in 2020. This was nearly a 13% increase from 2019. For Thanksgiving 2020, there were more than 2,700 crashes, resulting in more than 1100 injuries. That’s just one five-day period. And while the overall number of crashes was down from 2019, fatalities were up.

As you might expect, alcohol factored into some of these crashes. For Thanksgiving 2020, 17% of fatalities were alcohol-related. Fortunately, over the past five Thanksgivings, 17% is the lowest reported number of alcohol-related deaths. 35% of fatalities from crashes were alcohol-related in 2018.

Christmas 2020 saw a whopping 2,828 crashes across the state. Nearly 1,200 people were injured in these traffic accidents. The worst year over the past five for Christmas injuries was 2018, with 1,408. Christmas 2018 also saw the most crashes, with Christmas 2020 coming in second.

New Years driving, covering a short period from December 31, 2019 through January 1, 2020, resulted in 702 crashes across North Carolina. Nearly half of those had associated injuries and fatalities. New Years 2020 was the worst one for crashes since 2016. As with the other holidays, unbelted drivers and passengers made up most of the crash fatalities (86%).

So wherever your travel takes you this year, please use extreme caution. First and foremost, wear a seatbelt. 65% of traffic fatalities on Thanksgiving 2020 involved unbelted drivers and passengers.

If you’ve been injured, contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free and confidential consultation. Call 1-866-900-7078.