North Carolina Employment Laws

Hiring Employees:

Business Owners may want to pay particular attention to Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws when hiring new employees. These include the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits punitive discrimination because of sex, race, religion and national origin; the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Federal Anti-Discrimination laws generally apply to employers that have fifteen or more regularly employed workers.


You should not ask about health and/or physical impairments, unless

  • An impairment is obvious and it is related to a bona fide occupational qualification;
  • You can only consider an applicant’s disability if it makes him or her unable to perform an essential function of the job
  • You may refuse to hire someone solely because of that person’s
    current drug or alcohol use; you may not discriminate against someone who has been successfully rehabilitated from past abuse of alcohol or drugs.


An employer may not ask if an applicant is an “illegal alien.” An employer may ask all applicants whether they are legally entitled to work in the United States on a full-time basis.

An employer may not knowingly hire an unauthorized alien

Age, Race, Sex, or National Origin:

An employer may not ask for information about these topics (including date of birth) on an employment application or in a job interview.


Requirements regarding wages come from two sources: The Fair Labor Standards Act, which is enforced by the U.S. Department of Labor , and/or the North Carolina Wage and Hour Act, which is enforced by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

Overtime Pay Rules

Unless an employee qualifies for an exemption under the Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales, or computer-related occupations exemptions.

New Minimum Salary Requirement for “Exempt” Employees:

An employee who earns less than $23,660 annually, or, $455 per week must be paid at an overtime rate for work in excess of forty hours per week, regardless of that employee’s job title. (Employees who are paid on a commission are an exception).

Permissible Deductions for Salaried Employees

An employer may deduct a full day’s pay from a salaried employee’s wages for: full day absences due to illness or injury if there is a sick pay/disability plan in place or if the employee takes unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

  • Employers can deduct partial-day absences for hours taken as intermittent or reduced FMLA leave.
  • An employer may make pay deductions for penalties imposed when salaried employees violate major safety rules.
  • Employer’s do not have to pay for an entire week’s salary during the employees first or last week’s of employment (if less than a full week is actually worked).

Safe Harbors

Usually, if an employer makes improper deductions from an employee’s paycheck, the overtime exemptions can be lost. However, to reduce the risk an employer can:

  • Establish and clearly communicate a policy prohibiting improper deductions;
  • Reimburse employees for improper deductions; and,
  • Be sure that good faith efforts to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act are made.