Articles Posted in Discrimination

The emergence of memes involving the derisive phrase “OK boomer” is a reminder that age-based bias is as pervasive as ever (if not more so) across America and here in Georgia. While some age-biased insults may be merely rude or in poor taste, other times, they represent something very profoundly damaging and harmful. When this kind of injurious conduct occurs in the workplace, it may represent an instance of illegal age discrimination. Whether you are an employer or an older employee, if you think you’re dealing with age discrimination issues, contact an experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyer to find out what your next steps should be.

“OK boomer” may be the most on-trend age-related barb, but it is far from the only one. Recently, one Georgia worker reached a successful settlement of her Age Discrimination in Employment Act case where those sorts of issues played a role.

The employee, L.C., was an Atlanta-area woman who worked for a major information services company in a sales representative role. According to the employee’s ADEA lawsuit filed here in the Northern District of Georgia last June, L.C.’s supervisor called her names like “old dinosaur” and also opined that she was so old that she could not figure out newer technologies.

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TV and theatrical depictions of lawyers and litigation often take a great degree of “artistic license.” (Scenes inside a courtroom room rarely look like what happens on a Law and Order show.) One thing shows and movies get right, though, is a good attorney’s ability to spot weaknesses in the other side’s position. On the screen, the lawyer may catch the person in a lie outright. In the real world, it more often relates to a skilled Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer’s ability to spot inconsistencies and expose them to undermine the other side’s credibility.

To avoid falling victim to this pitfall — whether you’re an employee alleging discrimination or an employer defending against such a charge — it is vital to ensure that you’ve maintained proper and complete documentation of the events that preceded the litigation and make sure that they consistently “sing from the same sheet of music,” so to speak. As an employer, that includes documenting all the steps you took before firing an employee, such as performance improvement plans and disciplinary actions.

For example, take the race discrimination case of an engineering and consulting firm and one of its project coordinators who worked in North Georgia. The coordinator, a Black woman, worked in Kennesaw for five years. During that time, she said she endured racial discrimination on multiple occasions.

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Workers who make the decision to continue navigating the workplace during (or very shortly after) their pregnancies face many potential challenges, from the logistical to the physical to the emotional. What they shouldn’t have to face is discrimination on the job because they’re continuing to work while pregnant or nursing an infant. Currently, the Georgia General Assembly is considering a bill that would provide very substantial new protections for pregnant workers in this state. Already, federal law prohibits many forms of discrimination against pregnant or breastfeeding/nursing mothers so, if you’ve suffered professional harm because you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you owe it to yourself to contact a knowledgeable Atlanta pregnancy discrimination lawyer to discuss your situation.

The Pregnancy Protection Act would prohibit a variety of employment practices that would, according to the bill, constitute pregnancy discrimination. One crucial element of the bill would require employers to make reasonable accommodations for workers who are pregnant.

Under the act, possible reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers would include things like “longer breaks, time off to recover from childbirth, time off for medical appointments, absences related to medical needs for pregnancy, acquisition or modification of equipment, seating, temporary transfer to a less strenuous or hazardous position, job restructuring, light duty, break time and private non-bathroom space for expressing breast milk, assistance with manual labor, or modified work schedules.”

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For transgender workers in Georgia, the potential to be harmed by discrimination exists on several fronts. Even if an employer refrains from any adverse action directly related to the worker’s performance of their job, other ways to harm that worker still exist, such as the denial of insurance coverage for necessary treatments connected to their transgender condition. When a Georgia employer erects a carve-out in its insurance plan that specifically targets treatments designed for transgender people, then that employer has potentially engaged in gender identity discrimination in violation of Title VII… as well as disability discrimination in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. When that happens, be sure to contact an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer to find out how to protect your rights.

A.L., whose case this blog covered last year, was one of those employees. A.L. was a sheriff’s deputy in Houston County and a trans woman. The deputy’s medical providers diagnosed her with gender dysphoria and recommended hormone treatment, breast implants, and a vaginoplasty.

The employer’s health insurance refused to cover the care. As the deputy pointed out, the plan was discriminatory, covering hormone treatments when doctors prescribed them in relation to a woman’s menopause, but not in relation to a trans woman’s transition. Additionally, the plan covered mastectomies when needed as part of cancer treatment, but excluded them when they were part of a trans man’s gender dysphoria care.

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When you seek to defeat your employer’s motion for summary judgment in your discrimination case, you may have multiple avenues through which you can do that. One is to provide the court “a convincing mosaic of circumstantial evidence that raises a reasonable inference that the employer discriminated against” you. A knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can help you ensure you’re amassing and presenting the evidence you need to defeat your employer’s motion and get your day in court before a jury.

M.B. was a Black man whose race discrimination case advanced using that “mosaic” method.

M.B. began working at a manufacturing facility in Flowery Branch in 2006. He rose to shift lead but never ascended any higher. That professional stagnation was not for lack of trying. From February 2017 to January 2018 alone, he applied for promotions five different times. Five times the employer turned him down.

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When an employer denies a worker a promotion, fires them, or refuses to hire them because they’re over 40, that decision potentially represents a violation of federal law (the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).) If you’ve encountered an age discrimination issue — whether as an employee or an employer — an experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyer can help you map out the path forward that is the most advantageous given your specific circumstances.

Observers have noted that age discrimination actions are on the rise. That includes here in Georgia.

In one recent age discrimination case, the employer was an Alpharetta-based manufacturer of connectors used in medical devices. Allegedly, after the employer named a new CEO in 2016 and a new president in 2019, the pair embarked on a plan to get rid of all the company’s older management employees and sales workers, replacing them with a new, younger staff.

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Two years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that employment discrimination based on workers’ sexual orientations or gender identities constituted violations of Title VII. Since that time, the exact extent of federal law’s protection against gender identity discrimination remains an issue that is still developing. Whether you’re a worker who believes you’ve suffered this sort of harm or you’re an employer facing this type of charge, you definitely should consult a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer with all due haste, who can advise you on the latest developments in the law and what your next steps should be.

As an illustration, we can look at all that has taken place just in the last six months.

In August, the Georgia Department of Corrections won a victory in a case regarding the interplay of preferred pronouns and gender identity discrimination. The employee, T.C. was a trans man who was AFAB (“assigned female at birth” or “born a biological female.”) In 2017, T.C. began hormone therapy. A year later, he legally changed his name.

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Every successful disability discrimination case necessarily involves several essential ingredients. You have to have suffered from a qualifying disability. You must have made a request that was sufficiently specific to put your employer on notice that you were seeking a disability accommodation. You also must have engaged in the interactive process in good faith. As you seek to build your failure-to-accommodate case, an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer can provide you with invaluable aid in securing and presenting the proof you’ll need to succeed.

A North Georgia employee’s case accusing her employer of failing to reasonably accommodate her disability recently scored an important victory in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. While the trial court had sided with the employer, the appeals court reversed that ruling and revived the case.

P.W. worked as a claims examiner in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Atlanta regional office. The examiner, who was also a veteran, had degenerative disc disease in her back and partial paralysis in both her feet. Based on those conditions, the examiner asked for an accommodation regarding her parking spot. Normally, probationary examiners like P.W. had to park in an off-site parking lot one mile from the office; P.W. asked for permission to park on-site.

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As we enter the holiday season this year, one thing for which we can be thankful is that most of us generally can celebrate the season with many fewer restrictions as compared to two years ago. Even as COVID-19 has dissipated from its 2020 worst, the virus (and complications from it) remains a reality for many people. That includes people who have one or more COVID-connected disabilities that require a workplace accommodation. If you’re one of those people and your employer denied you the accommodation you need, you should get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer to discuss what the legal system can do for you.

Last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued a Newton County pharmaceutical manufacturing employer in a first of its kind: an action against an employer for an alleged failure to accommodate a worker’s disability that was related to COVID-19. Recently, the EEOC announced that the employer had agreed to settle the case.

R.M., the employee in the case, was a health, safety, and environmental quality (“HSE”) manager at the company’s facility located about 50 miles east of Atlanta. In early March 2020, the manager’s doctor diagnosed her with obstructive lung disease. The doctor recommended that the manager work from home and take frequent breaks while working.

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As of 2020, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 53 million American adults — or 21% — had one or more forms of mental illness, which can cover a wide array of disorders from depression to anxiety to schizophrenia to addiction. Fortunately for those who experience mental illness to an extent that it impairs major life activities, the Americans With Disabilities Act offers substantial protection against employment discrimination. If you have a mental health disability and your employer failed to accommodate that disability, then they may have violated the ADA. You should contact a knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer to find out if an ADA violation has taken place and, if so, what your next steps should be.

That sort of failure to accommodate was exactly what allegedly happened to one employee of Atlanta’s largest public hospital, and it ended with the worker securing a payout via a settlement.

The worker, a certified medical assistant (CMA), began experiencing symptoms of depression in September 2019. The woman visited a doctor, who diagnosed her with severe depression. Based on that diagnosis, the employee asked for a little more than a month of leave.

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