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?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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