Imes v. City of Asheville

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  • Violence Against Women and Girls
  • Workplace Equality and Economic Empowerment
  • Authored Amicus Brief
2004

Addressed the right of domestic violence victims to protection from employment discharge under North Carolina public policy.

Our Role in the Case

Legal Momentum filed an amicus brief in this case before the North Carolina Supreme Court, arguing it should be illegal to fire an individual simply because she or he is a victim of domestic violence. Our brief was filed on behalf of seven North Carolina-based organizations and individuals and 20 other national, regional, and local organizations and individuals committed to addressing domestic violence. The law firm of Morrison and Foerster provided generous pro bono assistance on the brief.

Summary of the Case and Brief

The plaintiff in the case was shot (off work premises) by his ex-wife. His employer responded by firing him, stating that the incident "injured" the reputation of the employer, a city transit agency. Our brief argued that the employer's actions were against the state's public policy as expressed in North Carolina's numerous laws and regulations that combat domestic violence. In a ground-breaking case in Massachusetts, Apessos v. Memorial Press Group, Legal Momentum successfully argued that firing an employee because she missed work to get a protective order could be a wrongful termination in violation of that state's public policy.

Decision

Unfortunately, the North Carolina Supreme Court, without issuing an opinion, affirmed a lower court's determination that city could fire Mr. Imes because there was not a specific law making it illegal to fire victims. Even though it was not ultimately decided in favor of victims' rights, the case (and the press attention it received) raised awareness of the issue and will hopefully help fuel legislative reform.