What is the Office of Administrative Hearings?
The North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) is a state agency with responsibility for making certain rules and regulations and with responsibility for handling certain types of claims.
What types of employee claims does the OAH handle?
The OAH Hearing Division handles hearings involving state employees, and certain county employees, alleging claims of violation of the State Personnel Act. The OAH Civil Rights Division investigates alleged violations of state and federal employment discrimination laws. The OAH Civil Rights Division works very much like the federal EEOC.
Does the OAH handle any other claims?
Yes. The OAH Hearing Division handles a variety of claims. The ones that are most likely to impact our clients are ones involving a denial, revocation, or suspension of a state license or certificate. If you have had a state license or certification denied, revoked, or suspended, you may have a right to a hearing with the OAH.
I believe that I’ve been discriminated, harassed or retaliated against by a government employer covered by the State Personnel Act. What should I do?
You should determine whether to file a charge of discrimination with the Office of Administrative Hearings or the EEOC.
I’m a career state employee, and I’ve been subjected to discipline, or discharge, from my employment. Should I contact the OAH?
Probably. If you are a career state employee covered by the State Personnel Act, and you have been subjected to termination, you should file a petition for a contested case with the OAH Hearing Division. The petition for contested case usually must be filed within 30 days of receipt of the written notice of final agency decision.
What happens after I file a petition for a contested case?
The petition will be assigned to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will then issue initial orders, including an order for pre-hearing statement. The ALJ will also indicate when discovery period is to occur. The ALJ will likely assign the case for hearing, and set the date for mediation. It is very important that you do not miss any of the dates or deadlines as outlined by the ALJ’s orders or your case could be dismissed.
Do I need to be represented by an attorney during the procedure before the OAH, Hearing Division?
Although you will be set for a “hearing,” please do not believe that this will be a simple or informal proceeding. This is, in fact, very much like a trial proceeding in Superior Court in North Carolina. Prior to the hearing, there will be normal discovery, and there will also be motions as you would find in a normal civil proceeding. The only real difference is that there will be no jury present. It is always best to be represented by a qualified attorney during this process.