Is it legal for your employer to fire you because you refused to work until a racial situation solved a racial with another employee was solved?

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Is it legal for your employer to fire you because you refused to work until a racial situation solved a racial with another employee was solved?

A employee made a racial remark while I was standing about 2 feet away. I told our head boss but he refused to do anything about the problem. The man who made the slur was not suspended, didn’t get written up or anything. I did not feel safe coming to work while he was there so I simply called my boss asked him if he was going to solve the problem but he said no because the employee in quest said that he was responding to a slur against him. So I said to my boss,

Asked on December 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is legal for your employer to fire you in this this situation: you refused to come into work, which is grounds not just for termination, but potentially for termination "for cause": that is, in way that renders you ineligible for unemployment benefits. Employers do not need to retain employees who refuse to work. The proper response in a situation like that is NOT to refuse to come to work, but to rather contact the federal EEOC and/or your state's equal/civil rights agency about filing a racial discrimination or harassment complaint. You can--and should--still try to file such a complaint, but you need to be aware that by voluntarily choosing to not work, you have compromised or damaged your claim.


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