Do I have to sign the offer letter because they cut my hours? And Do I have a case for family discrimination act?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have to sign the offer letter because they cut my hours? And Do I have a case for family discrimination act?

My boss gave me a ultimatum on availability which she knew I was unable to meet due to child care. I was told if I did not do it then I would be cut to PRN which meant loosing my benefits.She did not make these requirements of any of the other employees in my area who do not have children. I was not able to do what she wanted because both my husband and I work over nights and I can not get 24 hour child care. When they changed my employment status from full-time to as needed I went from 33 hours a week to them only scheduling me 10.5 hours in three weeks. Then I was told that I needed to sign a PRN offer letter stating that I am being hired for this position with no chance for any pay increase and meaning I cannot file for unemployment. My boss told me that either I sign the letter or I can’t come back to work. What are my options?Do I need to sign the offer letter? Do I have a case for family discrimination act?

Asked on September 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

There is no protection for family status (e.g. having children) under either federal (national) or North Carolina law, so there is no discrimination claim here. Unfortunately, being treated differently due to having children or child care needs is not illegal where you live.
Unless you'd already had a written employment contract for a definite term (e.g. a one-year contract) which had not yet expired, you were an employee at will. If you were an employee at will, your employer could terminate or change your job at any time, for any reason. So yes, they could cut your hours, change your status, take your benefits, *and* say that if you don't sign the letter, you cannot come back to work--it is unfair and a flaw in our system, but is legal. Your only choice is to take their offer or not. If they are only offering 3 hours or so per week, you may be better off litting them terminate you, applying for unemployment, and seeking other employment--at the least, that is something to consider.

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