Articles Posted in Discrimination

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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Americans With Disabilities Act makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job candidates who have qualifying disabilities. The law also, however, protects workers from employment discrimination arising as a result of their association with someone who has a disability, even if the worker is not disabled in any way. If you think you’ve been the target of associational discrimination — or you’re an employer facing this kind of assertion — you should speak to a knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer, who can help you better understand your rights and options.

An associational discrimination case under the ADA proceeds much like other federal discrimination claims. The worker must first establish that she has a prima facie case of discrimination and, if she does so, the employer must present a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the negative action it took against the worker. If both of those things happen, the law shifts the burden back to the worker to demonstrate that the employer’s stated reason was really just a pretext for its discriminatory motive.

As a recent ADA case from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals demonstrates, it’s important to understand that simply because an adverse employment action follows closely after the employer discovers a worker’s association with a person with disabilities, that alone won’t establish a winning associational discrimination case.

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As an employee or an employer, you undoubtedly understand that the totality of the “terms and conditions” of employment extends beyond just the basics like salary. Fringe benefits, especially things like health insurance coverage and retirement, can represent extremely important terms of employment. Discrimination related to fringe benefits potentially may entitle a worker to take legal action… but the viability of that worker’s lawsuit may depend on whether the discrimination occurred during or after the worker’s period of employment. If you have questions about discrimination and fringe benefits, make sure you’re getting the knowledgeable answers you need by talking to an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer.

A recent disability discrimination case originating in federal court in Florida is a reminder of the importance of this distinction between alleged discrimination that occurs during employment versus post-employment.

The worker, K.S., was a firefighter for a local government from 1999 to 2018. On Nov. 1, 2018, she took disability retirement at age 47 as a result of her Parkinson’s Disease.

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The poet Gertrude Stein wrote that a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” In employment law, though, sometimes a resignation is not a resignation. Workers and employers should be aware that, if there’s evidence that a worker was forced by intolerable conditions to resign, the law will consider that resignation the equivalent of a termination. That includes things like sexual harassment so bad that it negatively affects a worker’s psychological well-being. If you have questions about a situation such as this, whether you’re an employer or an employee, make sure you’re getting reliable answers by talking to an experienced Atlanta sexual harassment lawyer.

As an example, we can look at the sexual harassment case of A.C., a woman working as a security officer for an Acworth-based company. The federal court for the Northern District of Georgia issued an important ruling this past May in the case (originally filed in 2021) in which it clarified what plaintiffs do and don’t need to establish a constructive discharge based on sexual harassment.

Less than a year after the woman started, a male coworker allegedly began sexually harassing her. The alleged harassment included making “lewd statements,” “touching her in an ‘unwelcome and inappropriate’ manner,” and cornering her in a closet while threatening sexual contact.

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Any federal employment discrimination lawsuit is something worth taking very seriously, whether you’re the worker pursuing the case or the employer being sued That includes assessing the ways an employer can defeat a claim, potentially even before the lawsuit makes it to trial.
Whichever side you’re on, you can strengthen your position by getting in touch with an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer about the matter.

A recent disability discrimination case from here in Georgia is an example of an employer succeeding on a summary judgment motion and avoiding a trial on a worker’s disability discrimination case.

S.L. worked as a lineman for a Georgia electric utility. The employer required all its linemen to maintain a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL) at all times. The employer defined possession of a CDL as essential to the job of a lineman as, according to the employer, any lineman might need to drive a commercial vehicle on an unpredictable basis.

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As a worker, successfully pursuing a discrimination claim can involve many hurdles. In addition to having strong evidence, you have to file on time, you have to comply with all the rules of procedure and you have to overcome your employer’s defenses. Doing these effectively often requires in-depth knowledge and experience, which is why it frequently pays to have a skilled Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer on your side from the start.

A disability discrimination case from here in the metro Atlanta area shows this process in action, with an employee overcoming an immunity argument and ultimately recovering a six-figure judgment, according to the Clayton Crescent.

B.W. was an employee of the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The woman sought — and obtained — intermittent leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act to deal with her PTSD symptoms, which included “severe headaches, debilitating anxiety, and panic attacks.”

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