First settled by Europeans way back in 1567, North Carolina has played a long and prominent role in U.S. history. Per a 2007 census estimate, NC has a population of more than 9.06 million – a massive increase from the 2000 census. Having served as the “birthplace of human flight” – Orwell and Wilbur Wright launched their fabled voyage in 1903 at Kill Devil Hills – North Carolina remains at the forefront of the hi-tech and aeronautic business sectors. The gross state product is now over $400 billion annually, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
While some manufacturing jobs in NC have been “shifted overseas” to places like India and China, North Carolina remains a powerful center for textile, banking, finance, and agricultural industries. Charlotte, NC has been a veritable banking boom-town over the past decade. The Research Triangle around Raleigh has attracted many of the nation’s brightest IT and tech workers.
The North Carolina Department of Labor manages worker complaints, including matters such as:
- Wage and hour claims. Employees who have experienced “wage theft” issues, such as overtime-exempt misclassification, timecard tampering, and tip skimming, often turn to the DOL for assistance.
- Discrimination. The law can fine or sanction employers who make employment or hiring decisions based on an individual’s national origin, race, gender, religion, gender, or other protected attribute.
- Sexual harassment. Companies must create working environments in which no employee suffers from unwanted sexual attention, including repeated advances, “quid-pro-quo” requests, and inappropriate sexual jokes or conversations.
The DOL oversees four million North Carolina workers, providing training, further education, and access to info on state regulations and laws. The DOL also administers an apprenticeship program.
A Commissioner of Labor governs the department, which is split into three subdivisions: standards and inspections, occupational safety and health, and administration. Different worker complaints fall under the auspices of different subdivisions of the DOL.
For instance, wage and hour complaints would fall – naturally - under the auspices of the Wage and Hour Bureau, which was established in 1979 by the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act. Among other things, this bureau sets procedures by which employers can and cannot test potential employees for drugs and administers and enforces laws regarding minimum wage, child labor, and maximum allowable hours.
The recent tumult in the banking industry has created a great deal of flux in North Carolina’s economy – particularly in the greater Charlotte area, where many big banks (e.g. Wachovia and Bank of America) are headquartered. Big banks typically adhere strictly to rules against harassment, discrimination, and wage and hour violations. But during the recent financial crisis, some bank employees worked extremely long hours for inadequate pay. Many NC employees may not even be aware of the laws forbidding wage and hour violations. They shrug off their long, unpaid shifts as “necessary for company survival.”
To determine whether you may have a case against your North Carolina employer, consult with a trial-tested employment attorney in your area. An experienced legal professional has the knowledge and understanding of federal and state laws to help you pursue just compensation and treatment.