Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination

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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The Americans With Disabilities Act has been a part of federal law for 33 years. Despite that long-standing history, the complexity of this area of the law continues to yield compliance problems in workplaces across Georgia and the United States. Given the intricacy of disability law and the high stakes involved (both for a worker with disabilities or an employer,) it is wise to contact a knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer to get reliable answers to questions about your circumstance.

A recent appellate decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has dispensed some good news to both employees with disabilities and employers. The employee in the case, T.B., was deaf and communicated primarily using ASL (sign language.)

When T.B. worked as a materials handler for an auto parts store, he asked his employer for a disability accommodation. Specifically, he sought an ASL interpreter for a variety of employment-related functions, including meetings, training sessions, and a company picnic. As an additional accommodation, he requested test message summaries of his daily pre-shift meetings.

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Transgender people face discrimination in many settings, and that includes the workplace. One way is when their employers provide insurance coverage to employees in a discriminatory manner. If your employer’s insurance plan discriminates against your gender-affirming care, that potentially can represent a violation of federal law and you should talk to an Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer about your situation.

Currently, several state government workers are pursuing a discrimination case exactly like this.

M.R., one of the employees, is a staff accountant at the Department of Audits and Accounts and a trans man. The accountant’s doctor recommended certain surgical procedures. The Georgia State Health Benefit Plan denied coverage, so the accountant sued.

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Eight years ago this month, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges establishing marriage equality across the U.S. Even though marriage equality is the law of the land, gay and lesbian people still encounter many hurdles. If you’ve encountered illegal discrimination because of sexual orientation or your same-sex marriage, then you should contact an experienced Atlanta discrimination lawyer to help protect your rights.

A few months ago, the U.S. Congress last year took an important step in protecting gay and lesbian couples. The action occurred in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling that, on its face, had nothing to do with marriage equality.

In June 2022, the court issued a ruling in the abortion case of Dobbs v. Whole Women’s Health. The court’s majority opinion addressed abortion rights, but Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion theorized that the notion of “substantive due process” is “demonstrably erroneous.” (Substantive due process is the legal concept underpinning many modern rights cases like Griswold v. Connecticut (contraception,) Lawrence v. Texas (same-sex intimate relations,)… and Obergefell.)

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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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