About the Firm
The law firm of Sharpless & Stavola, P.A. provides top quality, aggressive legal representation to individuals and businesses throughout North Carolina. A core practice area of the firm is employment litigation, where our attorneys regularly represent parties in disputes arising from all aspects of the employer-employee relationship. Employment issues frequently litigated by the firm include claims of discriminatory hiring and employment practices, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful discharge, wage and hour violations, breach of contract and no-compete covenants, and employee benefits litigation. In addition to confronting claims of traditional employment discrimination, the firm represents parties with respect to statutory rights and obligations imposed by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act.
On behalf of our clients, we regularly appear in all North Carolina state and federal courts and administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the North Carolina Department of Labor, and the Office of Federal Contractor Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Sharpless & Stavola, P.A. is a Martindale-Hubbell “AV” rated law firm. Please review the firm’s webpage for additional information, including individual attorney profiles. The firm's telephone number is 336-333-6400.
Saturday, October 29, 2016
The size of the verdict is a stark reminder of the dangerous nature of whistleblower or retaliation claims. Juries are often times very troubled when it is proven that an employer punishes an employee for exposing its unlawful activity. We often here the adage that "the cover-up is worse than the crime." Whistleblower cases, such as this one, tend to similarly demonstrate the danger of an employer's decision to punish employees who attempt to disrupt a cover-up by reporting misconduct.
If you have questions about whistleblower protections, please see our previous discussion of recent whistleblower developments or feel free to call attorney Brian Alligood, an experienced North Carolina employment law attorney, at (336) 333-6388 for counsel.
Sunday, May 1, 2016
The only problem is that we have had a federal law requiring this very thing for over fifty years. Called, logically enough, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, it has been the subject of a previous post here. Here are some of the remarks made by President Kennedy upon signing the legislation:
I AM delighted today to approve the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits arbitrary discrimination against women in the payment of wages. This act represents many years of effort by labor, management, and several private organizations unassociated with labor or management, to call attention to the unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job.In short, it has long been the law in all fifty states that an employer cannot discriminate on the basis of gender in setting pay rates. Not only does the EPA forbid this, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does as well.
So why the confusion? And why aren't all women paid the exact same as male counterparts? Because the EPA does not eliminate the employer's ability to consider distinguishing credentials, skills, job performance, or other bona fide business considerations is setting a given employee's pay. Employers can still pay more for more advanced degrees, more valuable experience, greater business contacts, or other legitimately distinguishing credentials. Similarly, employers can still pay lower performing employees less. As such, if an employee has poor attendance, is chronically late to work, is prone to poor work product, the employer can, and arguably should, pay less than better performing peers. But if a woman is paid less than a man for the same work and in the absence of any bona fide business reason, she can sue the employer for the difference in pay and attorney's fees. In fact, in the case of a willful violation, the underpaid employee can collect liquidated damages as well.
Furthermore, an employer's mere offering of a purported justification for lower pay does not set the employer free. The employee can still offer evidence to show that the justification is a pretext, or phony excuse, for the disparity.
In short, and at the risk of diluting a good campaign rallying cry, equal pay for equal work is already the law of the land.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Saturday, December 20, 2014
U.S. Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Scotland County Agency and Employees
Generally, the complaint alleges that Wesley and Pender subjected voucher program participants and applicants to unwanted sexual comments, sexual touching and other sexual acts, and even conditioned or offered Section 8 benefits in exchange for sexual acts. The complaint also alleges that the men punished women who rebuffed their sexual advances by taking adverse housing actions against them. The claims are pursued under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act.
According to the complaint, Wesley's harassment dates back to the year 2000 and includes such acts as making unwelcome comments and sexual advances to applicants, touching applicants and himself (in their presence) in a sexual manner, and even exposing his genitals in the presence of Section 8 applicants and participants. He is also alleged to have used the women's responses to his sexual advances as a basis for advancing or hindering applications for benefits. Similar misconduct is alleged against Pender. In these ways the complaint alleges sexual harassment of both the hostile work environment and quid pro quo varieties, albeit outside of the employer-employee relationship.
The action is notable in several respects. First, it serves as a reminder of the kinds of comments and actions that frequently lead to sexual harassment litigation. In addition, it confirms that sexual harassment presents a liability risk for employers not only as to employee victims, but also as to third-parties who are affected by the misconduct. The case also serves as a reminder that governmental entities are not immune from liability for sexual harassment. Finally, we see that sexual harassment is prohibited not only by Title VII but by other federal laws prohibiting discrimination and that federal agencies other than the EEOC enforce the prohibition against sexual harassment.
Friday, July 11, 2014
Fourth Circuit Affirms Jury Verdict in Racial Harassment and Retaliation Action Despite Erroneous Causation Instruction
Friday, May 9, 2014
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Middle District of North Carolina Magistrate Recommends Dismissal of Complaint for Race and National Origin Discrimination Due to Arbitration Agreement
In opposing the motion, the plaintiff argued that the case should remain in court, in part because of language concerns. Indeed, the response itself reflected both that the plaintiff was unrepresented and limited in his command of the English language. Here too, the Magistrate quickly determined that such challenges must be taken to the arbitrator for resolution.