As we explained in a previous post, the Court dismissed this case short of trial in part because it determined that a company’s decision to require a 63 year-old, forty year veteran employee to change to a third shift position, immediately after his return from prostate surgery, was not an adverse employment action. The Court therefore determined that the plaintiff could not establish the second of four essential elements of a prima facie case of age discrimination.
Finally, the plaintiff had also asserted an alternative claim for wrongful discharge under North Carolina state law. The plaintiff based this claim on N.C. Stat.Gen § 143–422.2, a statute recognizing that it is against North Carolina public policy for an employer of 15 or more to discriminate, “on account of race, religion, color, national origin, age, sex or handicap.” The statute is found in North Carolina’s Equal Employment Practices Act. In its opinion, the Court made short work in dismissing this alternative claim for the same reasons cited in dismissing the federal age discrimination claim. In this way, the Court concluded, as have other federal courts to consider the issue, that the North Carolina public policy claim is subject to the same analysis and proof standards as the analogous federal law cause of action.