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Lawyer answers your questions about workplace issues ahead of 4ALL Service Day

4ALL Service Day is an annual program that allows North Carolinians to get their legal questions answered for free.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — WFMY News 2 is teaming up with the North Carolina Bar Foundation for this year's 4ALL Statewide Service Day on March 5.

North Carolina Lawyers are volunteering to provide free legal information to people across the state.

Call lines are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

GREENSBORO/TRIAD 4ALL SERVICE DAY NUMBER: 1-336-355-6262.

Ahead of 4ALL Service Day, 2 Wants to Know spoke to Nicole Patino with the Law Offices of L. Nicole Patino to answer your workplace issue questions.

COMMON WORKPLACE LAW QUESTIONS

WHAT CAN I BE FIRED FOR?

North Carolina is an at-will employment state, you can be fired for almost anything. The only things you cannot be fired for are unlawful discrimination and violation in public policy (unless you sign a contract that says otherwise).

WHAT COUNTS AS WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION?

Unlawful discrimination is discrimination based on protected characteristics, such as race, gender, sexuality, religion, ethnic origin or disability.

If you feel like you're being discriminated against, Nicole Patino recommends you take notes. The more information your lawyer has about your situation, the better they are able to help you.

CAN I BE FIRED FOR REFUSING TO GET THE COVID-19 VACCINE?

You can be fired for refusing to get the coronavirus vaccine, but there are a few exceptions.

If you have a sincerely held religious belief, or if you have a reason that's based on a disability, that can prevent you from being fired if you don't get the vaccine.

Your employer can also require you to get the vaccine. However, there are exceptions.

If you get COVID-19 on the job, you could get workers' compensation. But if you choose not to come back to work, things aren't so black and white. 

FFCRA The Families First Coronavirus Response Act or FFCRA requires only certain employers are required to provide employees with paid sick leave or expanded medical leave due to COVID-19.

Covered employers are public or private employers with fewer than 500 employees and small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt due to certain circumstances. This means most employers with 51 to 499 employees are covered under this special sick leave, but the rest are not.

SHOULD I JUST SIGN THE SEVERANCE PACKAGE?

No matter the amount of severance provided. Patino recommends that you speak to an attorney before signing a severance package. 

A lawyer can negotiate the terms of your package and make sure you understand what you're giving away. In North Carolina, severance is a gratuity, but Patino says that doesn't mean it comes without strings.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, Legal Aid of NC may be able to help you.

You can call Legal Aid of NC at 1-866-219-5262.