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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12930
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was fired on Monday due to what many believe are unfounded

Customer Question

I was fired on Monday due to what many believe are unfounded reasons. I went back to my former job yesterday to get a copy of my personnel file, which includes my doctors notices, after being wrongfully accused of excessive unexcused absences. My former boss (owner of the franchise) refused to give me any access to anything. Do I not have a legal right to these records, especially to prove my case? Thank you! Mary Eagle
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.
Unfortunately, North Carolina law does not entitle employees or former employees to copies of their personnel file except insofar as documents may relate to the employee's exposure of toxic substances. There is a limited exception to the general rule for that purpose.
Otherwise, the only way to get a copy of one's personnel file is to file a lawsuit and then request the personnel file through the discovery process in litigation under the subpoena power of the court. The problem is that termination for "unfounded reasons" is not necessarily illegal and, thus, that there may be no basis for a lawsuit in the first place.
This is because employment in the state of NC is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.
So, if you could prove that you were terminated because of a medical disability (you mention unexcused absences for which you had doctor's notes as a reason for why you were let go), or because of your race or religion, you might have a basis for legal action. But otherwise, regardless of how unfair or unfounded your employer's decision, you would have no recourse because employment in NC is by default "at will."
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.