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Employment At-Will: North Carolina

Employment At-Will requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Amie Flowers Carmack and Douglas Britt, K&L Gates LLP

Summary

  • North Carolina recognizes the employment at will doctrine with certain unique exceptions. See Employment at will Doctrine, Generally.
  • Verbal assurances of job security and written materials found in employee handbooks will very rarely alter the at-will nature of employment in North Carolina. See Employment Contracts.
  • Where the parties to an employment relationship have specifically agreed to a definite period of employment, North Carolina courts are likely to recognize the existence of an employment contract. See Employment Contracts.
  • North Carolina courts also recognize public policy exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine, though the courts require that public policy considerations derive from specific sources. See Public Policy Exceptions.
  • North Carolina courts do not recognize the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in the employment context. See Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing.
  • Employers in North Carolina may be liable for claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress or negligent infliction of emotional distress, depending on circumstances related to employment or discharge. Claims for fraud or "promissory estoppel" are generally not recognized in the employment context. See Exceptions in Tort.