Scope of Wrongful Termination Claims in North Carolina (Somewhat) Limited

With one signature, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has provided a definitive answer to a question that has plagued North Carolina employers for nearly two decades – “Can a public policy wrongful discharge claim be based on the Equal Employment Practices Act (EEPA)?”

According to some state and federal courts, that answer was yes, but the North Carolina Supreme Court never expressly ruled on the issue. As a result, the question remained unresolved – but no longer.

The newly enacted Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act contains a provision clarifying the scope of a wrongful termination claim as it relates to the EEPA. In short, the Act expressly clarified that the EEPA does not provide a cause of action for wrongful termination. According to the Act, the EEPA “does not create, and shall not be construed to create or support, a statutory or common law private right of action, and no person may bring any civil action based upon the public policy expressed herein.”

However, North Carolina employers should remember that while the EEPA does not have a wrongful termination claim, employees may continue to file lawsuits for wrongful termination pursuant to a Title VII claim.