Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., provide valuable protections to workers who are disabled, become ill, or find themselves as caregiver for an ailing family member. However, there are limitations on the provisions of these laws, and not every Atlanta employment discrimination or retaliatory discharge case based on their alleged violation will be met with success.

As with other civil suits, the plaintiff has the burden of meeting certain elements of proof in order to prevail in his or her suit. Employers typically seek dismissal of the various claims filed against them if at all possible, and it is not unusual for a trial court to dismiss some (or even all) of a plaintiff’s claims prior to trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent employment law case, the plaintiff was a woman who began working as a manager of a discount warehouse club owned by the defendant employer in March 2017. Between that time and the day that she was ultimately terminated in late 2018, several significant events occurred, including  multiple “coachings” regarding the plaintiff’s performance of her job, a pregnancy, and a work-related injury. After being terminated for an alleged “inability to perform her job,” the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thereafter, in 2019, the plaintiff filed suit in federal court, asserting claims for a) retaliation, discriminatory discharge, and failure to accommodate in violation of the ADA and b) for interference with her rights under the FMLA.

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When an employee, former employee, or potential employee seeks to assert an Atlanta employment law claim, he or she must do so in a timely fashion. The exact time for the filing of a claim is dependent upon both the applicable law and the factual circumstances at hand.

For instance, in a “whistleblower” suit filed under Georgia state law, a formal complaint must be filed within one year of the date that the plaintiff discovered the alleged retaliation (but no longer than three years after the retaliatory action). Other factors may come into play as well, but this one-year limitations period will control in most cases.

If the plaintiff in a potential state law whistleblower suit does not take the appropriate legal action in a timely fashion, it is likely that his or her case will be dismissed. In such a situation, he or she may have no legal remedy, despite the employer’s retaliatory conduct.

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When an employee believes that he or she has been wrongfully discriminated against in the workplace, there are several steps that must be taken in order to assert an Atlanta employment discrimination claim. These cases tend to be very fact-specific, and it is important for the record to be fully and effectively developed as the case proceeds towards trial.

An experienced employment law attorney can help an employee who has been fired or passed over for a new job or a promotion as he or she seeks justice in the court system. Thus, one of the most important steps in the process of holding a discriminatory employer accountable for its wrongdoing is talking to an attorney who handles these types of cases.

After filing certain paperwork with the proper state and/or federal agencies, the employee’s next step will be to file a lawsuit, that is, a formal complaint in a court of law. In many cases, the complaint is met with great resistance, often including one or more motions to dismiss the employee’s case.

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Federal law protects employees against racial discrimination and actions taken in retaliation for an employee’s assertion of his or her rights under certain federal laws designed for the protection of workers. However, an Atlanta employment discrimination claim will not be viable in every alleged instance of discrimination or retaliation.

In order to prove his or her case, the plaintiff must have enough evidence to survive the inevitable motion to dismiss by the employer, and this is not always an easy task. Consulting an experienced employment law attorney who can help the plaintiff build his or her case is essential.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was an African American woman who was hired to work as a property manager for the defendant employer in 2012. She was promoted to area manager in 2014 but demoted back to property manager in 2015. After being terminated later that year, the plaintiff filed suit in federal district court alleging that she was terminated because of her race in violation of  Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000(e) and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; that the defendant had interfered with her rights under the family Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and that the defendant had retaliated against her for asserting her rights under FMLA.

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In an Atlanta sexual harassment claim filed under Georgia state law or federal law, the defendant will likely seek to have the plaintiff’s case dismissed on summary judgment prior to trial. Summary judgment is only appropriate in cases in which there are no genuine issues of material fact. This is because factual issues are to be determined by the finder of fact – typically a jury, but sometimes a trial court judge – during the trial, not beforehand by a motion judge.

Not just “any” dispute of fact will prevent a decision granting summary judgment (and, most likely ending the plaintiff’s case). Rather, only disputes in which a reasonable jury could find in favor of the party opposing the motion for summary judgment are considered “genuine issues of material fact.” Even though the nonmoving party may ultimately bear the burden of proof at trial, it is the party who seeks summary judgment who has the burden of showing an absence of genuine factual issues that must be resolved at trial.

In attempting to meet this burden, the party seeking summary judgment may rely on the parties’ pleadings, any depositions that have been taken during the discovery phase of the litigation, the parties answers to interrogatories and requests for admissions, affidavits, and the like. Of course, the party opposing the motion may point to similar evidence in resisting the motion. Ultimately, it is up to the trial court judge to decide whether the matter will end with summary judgment or proceed toward trial.

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An Atlanta wrongful termination lawsuit can arise from several different situations. Among these are cases in which someone is fired because of his or her gender, sex, or race, even if some other, superficial reason is alleged by the employer. Terminations based on a worker’s pregnancy or disability can also trigger a wrongful discharge case, as can the firing of someone who has been hurt on the job or been absent for jury duty. There are some situations, however, in which a termination – though alleged to be wrongful by the discharged worker – is upheld as lawful by the court system.

This can happen when an employer has a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for letting a worker go. A case appealed to the intermediate state appeals court recently explored whether an accusation of sexual misconduct might fall under this category, even though there had not yet been a conviction concerning the allegations.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who worked as a tennis manager for the defendant county. In April 2018, however, the plaintiff was the target of a lawsuit in which it was asserted that he had sexually abused a teenage girl at the defendant’s tennis facilities. Although the plaintiff denied the allegations, the defendant placed him on paid administrative leave for a period of about four months. Thereafter, the plaintiff was moved to “unpaid suspension” for another four months. Thereafter, he was terminated; as grounds, the defendant stated that the plaintiff’s excessive absences had resulted in his termination.
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Those who believe that they may have a valid Atlanta race discrimination lawsuit against a current, former, or potential employer have a limited time to take legal action. Failure to file the appropriate paperwork within the time allowed by law can result in a complete forfeiture of one’s legal rights.

Once the claim is filed, there are other requirements imposed upon the employee, including the burden of producing legally admissible evidence tending to show that he or she was the victim of unlawful discrimination due to his or her race or color. In turn, the employer is apt to present a different view of the case, one in which it had a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for its adverse employment decision towards the plaintiff.

At that point, it is likely that the employer will seek summary judgment, that is, a pre-trial order establishing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. If the motion is granted, the employee may then seek the review of the court of appeals. If the court of appeals holds differently than the trial court, the matter may be sent back to the trial court for further proceedings.

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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes a minimum wage and sets forth the rules that apply to overtime pay. This important statute also codifies certain recordkeeping requirements that are to be imposed upon employers, and it has provisions designed to prevent the exploitation of children in the workforce.

If someone believes that they may have an Atlanta wage and hour claim, it is important that they speak with legal counsel as soon as possible. There are several important steps to asserting one’s legal rights under the FLSA, and deadlines may apply.

A successful FLSA litigant may be entitled to several types of damages, including a court order requiring the defendant employer to pay the plaintiff employee’s attorney’s fees and related litigation costs. The plaintiff employee may also be entitled to monetary compensation for unpaid overtime wages, among other damages.

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It is wrongful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his or her race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, or disability. When an employer violates state or federal laws that forbid such conduct, the affected worker may be able to assert an Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit.

If an employee (or former employee) is successful in his or her case, multiple forms of relief may be available, depending on the specific situation that gave rise to the claim. This might include injunctive relief (such as an order reinstating the worker to a particular position), front pay, back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and/or attorney fees.

Of course, not every claim of employment discrimination is ultimately successful. The employee must be able to show that his or her race, age, sex, etc., was a motivating factor in the employer’s adverse decision (such as firing the employee or refusing him or her a promotion) and that any supposed non-discriminatory reason for the decision was not merely pretextual; unfortunately, this is not always possible. Continue reading ›

There was a lot of talk during the recent election cycle about the possibility of raising the minimum wage. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen, but, in the meantime, there are a number of state and federal laws aimed at ensuring that workers are treated fairly when it comes to pay.

One such law requires that employees who put in more than 40 hours per week are entitled to be paid an overtime wage of one and a half times their regular pay. Not all workers qualify for overtime pay, but the vast majority do.

If you believe that you qualify for overtime pay, but your employer has not been paying you time and a half for your weekly hours over the 40-hour threshold, you should talk to an Atlanta wage and hour attorney. Be mindful that there are deadlines for filing claims for overtime pay, and claims not timely filed may be deemed waived.

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