Last year, a few major U.S. Supreme Court rulings turned 50 years old. The first case to come to many minds probably is the landmark 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade. However, the name at the tips of employment lawyers’ tongues probably is the discrimination case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose reach encompasses federal matters in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama,) issued a significant decision clarifying exactly how the McDonnell Douglas case’s precedent does — and does not — impact discrimination litigation today. If you have questions about employment discrimination, you need to consult a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer who can provide you with information that is fully up to date.

The recent discrimination case, decided in December, involved L.T., an African-American woman and the superintendent of a juvenile detention center, and her employer, the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. After one particularly problematic day at the center, the assistant secretary of detention services assembled a team to review staffing and personnel issues at L.T.’s facility. After the team completed that review, the assistant secretary fired L.T., despite the superintendent’s 16-year record devoid of negative performance reviews or discipline.

The superintendent sued for race and sex discrimination. A key part of her case was comparator evidence; namely, that two similarly situated white Juvenile Justice employees had faced similar problems but were treated very differently. The department immediately fired L.T.; the two white superintendents who similarly faced allegations of a lack of control and a failure to follow departmental policies “received only oral reprimands, were allowed to transfer to different facilities, and were granted multiple opportunities to comply with various recommendations for improvement.”

Continue reading ›

Domestic workers (like nannies and housekeepers) are a diverse group. Even fictional depictions range from Julie Andrews’ Mary Poppins to Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire. In real life, these workers often put in long hours, working more than 40 hours a week. Those facts may mean that a nanny or housekeeper may be entitled to substantial overtime compensation if they qualify as a non-exempt employee. If you have questions about the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirement or the domestic service exemption, consult an experienced Atlanta wage and hour lawyer.

A South Florida nanny’s recent unpaid overtime case clarified the breadth/narrowness of the domestic service exemption in federal cases in Georgia and two surrounding states.

The worker began as a full-time nanny and housekeeper for two South Florida parents in 2019. The nanny worked overnight shifts for five consecutive nights, totaling 79 hours per week. The parents paid the nanny a flat rate of between $800 and $880 weekly.

One of the more common issues employers and employees may encounter regarding a possible discrimination lawsuit is the existence of a valid arbitration agreement. Many employers include these agreements with other contractual documents that new hires sign as part of their “onboarding” process. Whether you’re a worker looking to litigate a discrimination claim or an employer seeking to compel arbitration (or ensure that your arbitration agreement is valid under the law,) it pays to get advice and representation from an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer.

The key for employers seeking to utilize arbitration to resolve workplace discrimination disputes is ensuring that everything about these agreements meets the law’s tests for validity. If the agreement is valid and enforceable, then the employer can get an order compelling arbitration rather than litigating in court. If the agreement isn’t valid under the law or no agreement exists at all, then the worker has the right to proceed in court.

A flaw — either in the wording or the execution process — can potentially sabotage the employer’s preference for arbitration, as one employer found out recently.

Continue reading ›

Food delivery drivers frequently can be the victims of Fair Labor Standards Act violations. That can include improperly underpaying drivers who use their personal vehicles for deliveries (by paying them only the minimum wage and then not properly paying them for the vehicle expenses they incur,) or illegally underpaying them as a result of misclassification as exempt employees when they really were non-exempt. Whether you’re a driver who believes your employer denied you the pay that you were owed under the law, or you’re an employer seeking to ensure that your pay practices are compliant with relevant laws, if you have questions about the FLSA, you should seek out knowledgeable answers from an experienced Atlanta age and hour lawyer.

One of those underpaid workers was A.N., a North Georgia pizza delivery driver, who filed to arbitrate a claim that the employer had illegally underpaid him in violation of the FLSA in 2019. The next year, an arbitrator sided with the driver and concluded that he had suffered $5,198 in actual damages. Coupled with $5,198 in liquidated damages and $153,867 in attorneys’ fees and costs, the total award was $164,264. The federal court for the Northern District of Georgia affirmed the award.

The employer, however, refused to pay. That forced the driver to bring a collection suit in federal court in Missouri, which the employer contested. The driver ultimately succeeded in collecting the judgment but spent an additional $53,934 to do so. The driver, in pursuit of the collection of those expenses, returned to the Northern District court on a motion for fees and costs.

Continue reading ›

Proper written documentation can be the difference between success and failure for an employer facing a discrimination lawsuit. The more contemporaneously created items showing the issues the employee had, the more support the employer will have for an argument that it took adverse action against the employee for legitimate reasons and not because of impermissible discrimination. While sufficient documentation is vital, too much extraneous documentation potentially can give a worker extra bases for attacking an employer’s decision-making, so striking the proper balance in documenting employees’ HR files is a must. If you have questions about your documentation practices and compliance with discrimination law, be sure to check with a knowledgeable Atlanta race discrimination lawyer.

A race discrimination case involving a well-known figure in this city shows a clear example of this.

The plaintiff was a white man who worked as an on-air meteorologist for one of Atlanta’s TV stations from 2012 to 2019. During that time, the meteorologist allegedly engaged in numerous acts of sexual harassment, including informing a female colleague that he dreamt about sex with her and telling a different station employee about a group sex experience he supposedly had.

Continue reading ›

Race discrimination cases can span a broad spectrum, from those involving allegations of employers blatantly and remorselessly setting out to discriminate against certain races to employers whose discriminatory misconduct was wholly lacking in “racial animus.” In either scenario, the discrimination is illegal and can entitle the workers harmed by it to recover substantial compensation. To get the information you need about race discrimination and your workplace, be sure to contact an experienced Atlanta race discrimination lawyer as soon as possible.

One especially pernicious form of race discrimination is something called “race matching.” In these instances, which often arise in the sales industry, the employer considers only candidates of one specific race, believing that a person of that race will “match” with a desired target audience and therefore be more successful with those customers.

K.F. was an African-American sales professional caught up in that sort of illegal practice. In September 2019, a shipping company offered him an account executive position. A short time later, though, the company rescinded the offer, ostensibly after discovering that K.F. had on his criminal record a 2014 misdemeanor for disorderly conduct.

Continue reading ›

Whether you’re an employee or an employer, it is important to understand the rights and responsibilities set out in the Family and Medical Leave Act. It is also vital to know what you have to prove (as a worker) or disprove (as an employer) in a case of illegal retaliation or interference in violation of the FMLA. To better understand both your rights and your obligations — both at work and at trial — you should contact an experienced Atlanta FMLA retaliation lawyer to get the knowledgeable answers you need.

A recent federal case that originated in Florida is important for a couple of reasons. One, it establishes for the first time what the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions guide federal cases in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) considers to be the proper analytical standard for assessing FMLA retaliation cases. Two, it provides a good reminder to employers of the profound benefits that can be reaped by engaging in proper and thorough documentation of workers’ performance (and performance issues) throughout their time with that employer.

In the FMLA case from Florida, the employee was a woman who worked for a nationwide chain of pharmacies. The employee had a son with profound disabilities, requiring her to use FMLA leave periodically.

Continue reading ›

A few years ago, Harvard University conducted a poll about discrimination. The results revealed that 57% of African-American workers “reported discrimination in pay and consideration for promotions.” While the denial of promotions based on a candidate’s race remains a serious problem, it is also true that some denials of promotions to minority candidates are the result of legitimate, non-discriminatory standards and decision-making. Whether you’re a worker who has experienced a racially discriminatory denial of a promotion, or you’re an employer facing a misguided claim of discriminatory conduct, a knowledgeable Atlanta race discrimination lawyer can help you address your situation promptly and effectively.

A recent race discrimination case that originated here in Atlanta provides an example of the latter of the two possibilities above. The worker, P.D., was an African-American man who worked for the Transportation Security Administration’s Atlanta field office as a supervisory air marshal. In 2016, he applied for two higher-lever positions — one in Atlanta and one in Miami. The TSA awarded the positions to two white employees in February 2017.

One month later, anonymous coworkers at the Atlanta office alleged that P.D. had engaged in a years-long pattern of rampant sexual harassment of female coworkers. The marshal sexually harassed women at “every level” of the Atlanta office and also retaliated against women who rebuffed his advances, according to the letter. The TSA’s investigation into the allegations found that the marshal engaged in misconduct.

Continue reading ›

One of the emerging areas in Fair Labor Standards Act litigation centers on the misclassification of exotic dancers. Several groups of dancers have successfully sued clubs for illegally misclassifying them as independent contractors instead of employees. While this industry may be relatively small, these misclassification cases hold significance for more than just adult entertainment clubs and the dancers who perform in them. The question of “independent contractor or employee” is a crucial one in many lines of work and misclassification can have extremely deleterious consequences. If you have questions about independent-contractor-or-employee classification, contact a knowledgeable Atlanta worker classification lawyer to get the answers you need.

One local club in Northeast Atlanta is facing FLSA litigation… and it isn’t their first time. Last month, a group of four dancers sued the club seeking recovery for “unpaid wages and overtime compensation, interest, liquidated damages, attorneys’ fees, and costs” under the FLSA.

A decade ago, that same club settled a previous FLSA lawsuit, agreeing to pay a class of 73 dancers more than $1.5 million. In that case, the club classified the dancers as independent contractors and the dancers’ compensation consisted solely of the tips they received. Additionally, the club charged its dancers various fees to perform at the establishment.

Continue reading ›

The Family and Medical Leave Act provides several rights and imposes several responsibilities on employees and employers alike. It is important to be keenly cognizant of these rights and responsibilities, as failure to do so can be extremely costly. If you have questions about your FMLA rights and/or responsibilities, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced Atlanta FMLA lawyer to get the knowledgeable answers you need.

Late last month, we looked at an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals case of a South Florida writer and producer and some of the details regarding the law of “associational discrimination.” In the context of the Americans With Disabilities Act, associational discrimination occurs when your employer discriminates against you because you are “associated” with “someone who has significant medical needs” and for whom you “may need to provide care.”

The producer’s case is noteworthy for more than just the illumination it shone on associational discrimination, however. It also serves as an important reminder about the mechanics of the procedural requirements imposed by the FMLA.

Continue reading ›

Contact Information