Articles Posted in Discrimination

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As seasoned Atlanta employment discrimination attorneys, we struggle to understand why anyone would choose to represent himself or herself in a lawsuit against a current or former employer. Perhaps, those who make such a dangerous and dubious decision do so because they simply do not know what they do not know.

Attorneys have many years of formal education and training regarding the thousands of statutes, ordinances, regulations, and court rules that could potentially apply to a given case, and they work very hard to stay current, as these laws are constantly changing and being reinterpreted by the courts.

A person who chooses to represent his or her own interests in state or federal employment law litigation is expected to know, understand, and apply the applicable legal principles in the same manner as would an attorney with years of experience in the field. Not surprisingly, most pro se cases end up being dismissed, often on procedural grounds.

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When it comes to legal matters, such as an Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit, time is of the essence. When a claim is not filed within the time allowed by law, it will, in all likelihood, be dismissed by the court.

While there are a limited number of circumstances in which an exception may be made, such cases are few and far between. If you believe that you have a possible claim of employment discrimination, it is very important that you contact an attorney who can help you with your claim so that you do not lose the right to seek legal redress from your employer (or former employer, potential employer, etc.).

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a former employee of the defendant hospital. In his employment discrimination lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that he had been subjected to discrimination because of his race and his age. He sought legal redress under both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 2000e-17 (Title VII), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621 to 634 (ADEA). The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s cause of action because he had not alleged that he filed suit within 90 days after receiving his right-to-sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

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There are certain types of discrimination that are unlawful in the workplace. This includes discrimination based upon gender, age, and race, as well as discrimination against someone simply because she is pregnant.

An Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit is one way for an employee to seek money damages and other legal remedies in such a situation.

Of course, not every such claim is successful. In some cases, the employer may offer proof of a nondiscriminatory reason for an adverse employment decision that impacted the employee, in which case it is typically up to the jury to decide which party’s version of events is more credible.

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An Atlanta employment discrimination case can be complex, with multiple allegations and several different theories of recovery.

For example, a worker may allege that he or she has been treated in a way that runs afoul of state or federal anti-discrimination laws.

The employee may further allege a claim for retaliation if he or she reported the initial act of discrimination and, thereafter, was the victim of adverse employment action (such as being passed over for a promotion) as a result.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued a Tennessee staffing agency and an international recycling company with a facility in Tennessee over alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The action was based on the defendants’ treatment of a deaf employee. The plaintiff sought temporary employment through the staffing agency and was assigned to work at the recycling center. However, the plaintiff suffered from a hearing impairment disability, and once the defendants learned of the disability, the complaint alleges that the defendants informed her that she could no longer work there.

The ADA protects employees with a recognized disability from discrimination in the workplace. It is a federal law that applies to most employers with more than 15 employees in Tennessee, Georgia, and the rest of the United States.

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A federal court in Georgia recently granted a summary judgment motion against an employee with an age discrimination lawsuit.

In Godwin v. WellStar Health System, Inc., Mary Godwin had been working as an order puller for WellStar Health Systems since 1999.  By 2003, she had been promoted to the position of Buyer in WellStar’s Purchasing Department.  Her duties included processing orders with outside vendors for goods made by WellStar’s different departments.  In 2009, WellStar hired a new Vice President of the Supply Chain, Tony Trupiano, whose job included overseeing the Purchasing Department.  Soon after, Godwin’s supervisor expressed concerns to Trupiano about Godwin’s performance, noting that she had made some errors with purchase orders.  Later that year, the supervisor conducted an evaluation of Godwin and found her to be “below expectations.”  Soon after, that supervisor left and a new one was hired, Ken Tifft.  Tifft read the former supervisor’s comments on Godwin, but thought they lacked documentation, and thus approved a merit pay increase for Godwin.  However, Tifft would later come to share the view that Godwin was performing “below expectations.”

In September 2010, Godwin was placed on a 90-day performance improvement plan, with follow-up consultations after 30 and 60 days.  Each time, her supervisor noted improvement, but also continued concerns.  Godwin was eventually placed on a second 90-day plan in February 2011.  Later that month, Godwin provided her supervisor with a letter from her doctor stating that due to her arthritis, she needed to move around every hour.  Her supervisor responded that Godwin needed to remain visible in the Purchasing Department, which was large enough to walk through.  However, Godwin, then 63 years old, complained to the Human Resources Department that her supervisor’s comments were ageist and there was no accommodation of her need to walk.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently sued Fannin County, Georgia for age discrimination on the basis that the county violated the law by choosing to layoff employees who were over 60 years of age. According to the lawsuit, the Fannin County Road Department decided to reduce its workforce back in November 2011. There were 11 people chosen to be laid off, four of whom were younger than 60 years of age and seven of whom were older than 60. Subsequently, the County ended up rehiring three of the four employees who were under 60 within a few months of being laid off; however, the County did not rehire any of the employees who were older than 60.

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Individuals are turned down for jobs for a variety of reasons. Some job applicants are simply unqualified for the position sought, while others are over-qualified. However, there are occasions when job applicants are turned away for discriminatory reasons, such as race or age. Accordingly, it is important for business owners to work with a Georgia employment attorney to ensure that their policies and hiring practices are legal and nondiscriminatory in every way. An attorney can appropriately evaluate employment policies and make a determination with respect to the possibility or existence of discriminatory hiring practices that might subject a business to litigation.

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