Employment Discrimination in North Carolina

Employment discrimination against protected classes is illegal in North Carolina.

Federal and state law prohibit North Carolina employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in North Carolina?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Citizenship status, and
  • Genetic information.

In addition, North Carolina state law also prohibits discrimination based on:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Disability: physical or mental
  • Age
  • Genetic information
  • AIDS/HIV
  • Lawful use of lawful product when not at work
  • Military status or service, and
  • Sickle cell or hemoglobin C trait.

Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which North Carolina Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to North Carolina employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

In North Carolina, companies with 15 or more employees are subject to the state's antidiscrimination law.

What government agency regulates workplace discrimination in North Carolina?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in North Carolina.

The Employment Discrimination Bureau of the Department of Labor enforces state antidiscrimination law in North Carolina. You can contact the Employment Discrimination Bureau at 919-807-2796 or 800-NC-LABOR or go to its website.

For more information on employment discrimination, see The Manager's Legal Handbook, by attorneys Lisa Guerin and Amy DelPo (Nolo).

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