Armento v. Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry, Inc

Kevin Murphy

Kevin began his private practice career at the nation’s leading management-side labor and employment firm. In 2016, Kevin left his career as a management-side attorney to represent individuals because people deserve the same quality of representation enjoyed by Fortune 500 companies.

Kevin now represents individuals in all types of employment disputes, including discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower actions, severance negotiations, equal pay violations, sexual harassment and assault, non-compete contracts, labor rights, wage and hour violations, leaves of absence, workplace safety, and executive compensation matters.

Kevin has won trial victories for clients in federal jury trials, state court trials, and arbitration. Kevin has fought employers who discriminated against clients based on their race, gender, age, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and military service. Kevin has fought back against retaliation based on his clients’ reports of unsafe working conditions, nuclear safety threats, and illegal overtime and wage practices. Kevin represents victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. Kevin also regularly defends individuals accused of violating overbearing non-competition agreements or trade secrets laws. Kevin represents whistleblowers in actions filed on behalf of the government against companies guilty of fraud.

Kevin has served as Chair of the Employment Law Section and as a member of the NCAJ’s Strategic Planning and Nominating Committees. 

Case Link View Now
Opinion Filed April 21, 2021
Attorney for the Case Carol Brook Clermont Ripley
Amicus Brief Writers Kevin Murphy Travis Payne
Court 4th Circuit Court of Appeals
Docket No. 20-1100

The plaintiff is asking the 4th Circuit to interpret the North Carolina Wage Hour Act. The NCWHA is very similar to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, and judges often use case law from the FLSA to guide interpretation of the NCWHA. NCAJ’s amicus could educate the Court about the interaction between the two statutes, the background and policy behind the NCWHA, and any ways in which the WDNC decision might diverge from current NC case law. We want the court to get the law right, and this is an area where our members’ expertise would be valuable.

The situation of a worker performing the same tasks, but being treated as an unpaid volunteer and a paid employee for different hours/shifts, is one that is appearing more frequently at drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, volunteer fire departments, and nonprofits similar to the defendant here. The plain language of the NCWHA prohibits an employee from doing the same tasks as both an employee (protected by the NCWHA) and a volunteer (without protections like minimum wage), but judges often struggle with these scenarios. Employees, especially those of vulnerable populations like the plaintiff and those at rehab centers, cannot—and should not be permitted to—waive their right to receive minimum wage. An amicus brief could propose the proper framework and provide the Court with additional context about the impact of their decision.