FOR STATE EMPLOYEES
If you’re a North Carolina state employee, allow us to extend a special welcome to our website! Helping state employees is a top priority at this office; whether your problem involves a grievance, workplace discrimination, or disciplinary action (including demotions) and dismissal (including reductions in force), we can put over ten years of experience to work for you.
It’s sad but true—despite the many good people working for the State, sometimes the people in charge make the wrong decisions. And you, the employee, pay the price. But you don’t have face those problems alone. Here are some of the ways we can help:
How We Can Help
Grievances. Most agencies don’t allow “official” attorney representation at the Step 1 or Step 2 grievance level. But that doesn’t mean we can’t help you! When you follow the grievance process you lay the groundwork for an appeal later on, so it’s important to get things right the first time. We can advise you on the important legal questions, the laws and rules that protect you, the questions you need to ask (and answer!) and generally help level the playing field. Facing a state employment problem isn’t easy—we can make it easier.
Administrative Hearings. From start to finish, we’ll be at your side during the hearing process. We’ll know the filing deadlines (Miss one of those and your case can be over before it starts), the legal issues, and the rules of the game. We’ll serve discovery—written questions—on the State, making them share information about their case, and take depositions—questions in person – to learn more, if needed. We’ll make sure the rules are followed—for everyone involved, not just the State and the lawyers paid to be on their side.
And most of all, in representing you during your case before the Office of Administrative Hearings, and later before the State Personnel Commission, you’ll have the comfort of knowing that we’ve been there before. Attempting an administrative hearing on your own, before a judge, is like being the starting quarterback when you’ve never played football! Experience and a game plan can make the difference.
Our Areas Of State Practice
Most disciplinary action above the warning level, including demotions and dismissals, can’t occur without “just cause.” That’s the law, if you are a career, non-exempt state employee covered under the North Carolina State Personnel Act. And no matter what, if you are covered by the Act, you can appeal disciplinary action in areas protected by the Act. That’s where we come in.
Know this: In many cases, the burden is on THE STATE, not you, to show there was “just cause” for demoting or dismissing you. The State, then, has to prove that the disciplinary action was right. We’ll help you show otherwise. While we can never promise to “win” appeals, or give odds on that happening, we will always bring our best game to your case, and give you the best chance of protecting your rights.
We all wish it wasn’t so, but there is still discrimination in state employment, as there is in other employment. You have the right, as a career employee under the State Personnel Act and under other state and federal laws as an employee of any kind, to appeal and challenge unlawful discrimination due to race, age, gender, politics, or handicap. We can help you make your best case on those matters, too.
When your civil rights are at risk, it’s critical to know how a civil rights case is brought. Whether it’s the Equal Opportunity Commission, the Office of Administrative Hearings Civil Rights Division, or a state or Federal courtroom, we’ve been there before, too.
Discrimination is wrong. We’ll help you fight it—every step of the way, from grievances to our courts of appeal.
A career state employee gets "priority consideration" in promotion decisions against a non-state employee if the two have "substantially equal" qualifications. What isn't as well known is that promoting the non-state employee in such cases is legal only when the non-state employee's job- related qualifications are "substantially better suited" for the position. Otherwise, the state employee gets the position - that's the law.
This means that your agency can't promote a non-state employee over you because it thinks the other is a "better fit," "had higher interview scores," or has other "talents" not related to the job description. So if you lose a promotion to a non-state employee, give us a call. You might have a claim for failure to give priority promotional consideration.
Reductions in force? They may seem fair, but … sometimes the state gets them wrong. When they do, we can help. Failure to promote, or give a hiring preference? We’re on top of those cases, too. Whatever the matter, we can help—or let you know how to get help, fast.
Thanks Again, And The First Step
Like we said at the start, state employees are our special priority. Thanks for taking the time to learn some of the ways we can help protect your rights and your career! And we’re always available by telephone—919-274-9020— or email, if you have questions. While we don’t give legal advice over the phone, we give you the time to explain your case – to a lawyer, not an assistant – and give you a plan to move forward.
The first step is a consultation. For a $200 fee, we’ll meet in person, and we'll review your case, listen to the facts, and give you a list of options. Then, and only then, do you make the decision to retain our services or not. Even if you don’t, you’ll leave with much more of a game plan than when you came in, and will have the satisfaction of knowing what you—and we—can do about your state employment problem.
© 2005 Michael C. Byrne, Attorney at Law
Not offered as official legal advice