Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination

Some years ago, an employment discrimination attorney on the other side of the country said, after analyzing a court ruling in his state, that the key point employers should take away from the decision was, essentially, “don’t be a schmuck,” (only he didn’t say “schmuck.”) Today, too many employers are making the lives of some workers with disabilities needlessly difficult — as well as violating the law — because they didn’t heed this lawyer’s wise advice when came to approving disability accommodations. If you’re a person with disabilities here in Georgia and your employer has engaged in similar conduct toward you, they may have violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, so you definitely should make the effort to contact an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer to talk about your situation.

A federal disability discrimination case that was recently settled seems like it may have been one of these times. The employee, S.M., worked for a large health insurance employer in Atlanta. The building where the woman worked had multiple entrances but, generally, employees were required to pass through revolving doors to enter the building.

S.M., however, had significant claustrophobia, and passing through a revolving door was exceedingly problematic for her. Based on her condition, the woman sought a workplace accommodation, which was to use a non-revolving door. S.M. provided the employer with a letter from her doctor stating her need for the accommodation and, though the court did not delve into the details of the building’s entrances, hers would seem like a modest accommodation request.

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After you’ve suffered discrimination at work and determined that a discrimination lawsuit is necessary, there are several essential hurdles you need to clear. One of the biggest ones is defeating your employer’s motion for summary judgment. Whether you’re before, at, or past the summary judgment stage in your case, representation from the right Atlanta workplace discrimination lawyer can be crucial to your success.

Take, for example, disability discrimination plaintiff C.G., who worked as an “Inclusion Specialist” at a Cobb County preschool for children with special needs.

C.G.’s problems arose abruptly when she experienced numerous seizures/neurologic episodes on Dec. 13-14, 2018. By Dec. 20, she was ready to return to work. On Dec. 21, however, the employer convened a meeting with C.G. and the executive director told C.G. and her husband that the school “was going to treat C.G. as if she had suffered seizures that could reoccur so it could not allow her to return to any classroom due to liability risk and exposure to [the school] in case she injured herself, a co-worker, or a student while working.”

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Back in 2018, a major restaurant chain headquartered in neighboring Florida paid out roughly $2.85 million to settle an age discrimination class action. While that was one of the more headline-grabbing cases of age discrimination in the restaurant and foodservice industry, it is far from the only one. Indeed, one of the most recent alleged occurrences comes from right here in North Georgia. What these cases have in common is that the workers took prompt legal action, which is absolutely essential to getting justice for the harm you suffered. If you’ve encountered discrimination at work because you’re age 40 or older, you should waste no time in getting in touch with an experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyer.

That North Georgia age discrimination case involved a man in his 50s who had worked at a Roswell coffee shop for five years when the shop, which was a part of a major Seattle-based chain of coffee shops, fired him in July 2021. The man was a “Store Manager” when the shop fired him.

According to his lawsuit, his termination was part of a larger, concerted scheme by the employer to weed out older managerial employees and replace them with younger managers. This allegedly included firing workers who had been with the company for several years and “who did not have a history of written disciplinary action.”

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Throughout much of 2021, remote work has been a hot topic throughout many industries. Whether a company was extending remote work, ending remote work, or moving to a “hybrid” option, the decisions made by businesses big and small have been in the headlines. For some, returning to the office for 40 hours every week now represents not just an inconvenience, but a very real and possibly very severe health risk. For those people, an employer’s refusal of continued remote work may be more than just a business decision, it may represent illegal discrimination. If you’re a worker in that position, you should check with a knowledgeable Atlanta disability discrimination attorney about your legal options.

R.M. was one of those workers trying to balance work and health. In early March 2020, R.M.’s doctors diagnosed her with a type of chronic lung disorder. A few weeks later, once the pandemic hit with full force, R.M.’s job, that of a health & safety manager at a Newton County pharmaceutical facility, moved from in-person to fully remote.

By summertime, though, the manager’s employer required her and her coworkers to return to the facility. Returning to the physical worksite would mean, according to the manager’s lawsuit, being in “close contact” with many colleagues, including sharing a desk with some of them.

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The discrimination that women and people of color have historically faced is well-known. Many employers are aware, too, and have sought to take steps to increase the diversity of their workforces. As with almost anything, however, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Employers whose diversity initiatives fall into the “wrong way” column may find themselves in violation of laws banning race or sex discrimination. If you are someone who’s been harmed because your employer impermissibly discriminated against you based on sex and/or race, you may be entitled to significant compensation, even if you’re male and white. Regardless of your race or gender, you owe it to yourself to get in touch with an experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer and discuss your legal options.

Earlier this week, the outcome of a discrimination case made headlines across the country, receiving coverage from major sources like The New York Times, CBS News, CNN, and Newsweek. What made the case newsworthy to many of these publications was the fact that the plaintiff was a white man.

The employee, who was the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications for a network of physician clinics and hospitals, started his job in August 2013. According to his lawsuit, on July 30, 2018, just five days shy of his fifth anniversary with the company, the vice president was summoned into a meeting and, without any prior notice, fired immediately.

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One of the bigger challenges many older workers face in seeking out new jobs is competing against younger applicants. Some employers may subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) tilt the hiring process toward those younger applicants, culling the older applicants at the initial stage or, at least, very early in the process. If that has happened to you, the employer may have engaged in illegal age discrimination. Here in Georgia, you potentially have the option of both state law and federal law claims for age discrimination. By working with the right Atlanta age discrimination lawyer, you can develop a plan best tailored to generate success in your case.

G.E. was one of those older workers. The Suwanee-based sales professional was in her early 50s when she began applying for available sales representative jobs with a major pharmaceutical company’s diabetes and primary care areas in 2018. After each application, the employer allegedly summarily rejected G.E. or rejected her after only an initial interview.

According to G.E.’s age discrimination lawsuit, none of this happened by accident or coincidence. The employer allegedly had a policy of skewing toward “Millenials” and “Early Career Professionals” in its hiring for positions like the ones G.E. sought. In fact, the employer allegedly had extreme hiring quotas, where managers sought to fill some sales positions with at least 40% Millenials, all the way up to 100% Millenials for other jobs.

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A new ruling from the federal appeals court based in Atlanta is good news for federal government workers – especially for those who incur age discrimination on the job, as that recent ruling has lowered the hurdle you need to clear to succeed. As is true of any type of discrimination you suffer on the job, age discrimination is potentially devastating. Don’t try to take on your legal action alone. Instead, reach out to and retain an experienced Atlanta age discrimination lawyer to represent you.

The underlying age discrimination case that spawned this ruling was one pitting a pharmacist against her employer, the Department of Veterans Affairs. The agency allegedly had instituted a system for granting promotions that discriminated against older workers and female workers. The pharmacist testified on behalf of two colleagues after they filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and later filed her own EEOC complaint.

After going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court last year, the pharmacist’s case returned to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year. In that most recent ruling, the 11th Circuit clarified what the proper standard of analysis was for cases involving federal government workers who alleged claims of age discrimination and/or retaliation.

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In a winning discrimination case, what happens at trial is obviously of huge importance. In many cases, though, what happens before trial is just as important – and sometimes even more so. Making sure that your pre-trial discovery is done the right way may be the difference between a successful outcome and an unsuccessful one, which is just another major reason why you should ensure you have a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer on your side from the very start of your case.

Not only will your experienced attorney know the best processes for engaging in that discovery, but he/she will also be fully up-to-date on the latest changes and clarifications in the law and court rules that govern what you can and cannot do in discovery.

Take, for example, this recent decision from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, whose rulings directly govern federal discrimination cases brought in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The plaintiff in that disability discrimination case, J.A., worked as an underwriter for an insurance company. After complications due to J.A.’s multiple sclerosis led to her hospitalization, certain executives and members of the company’s human resources department became aware of the underwriter’s MS.

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If you are familiar with the science surrounding breastfeeding, you know that a mother’s breast milk offers her baby many health benefits. In fact, earlier this year, a report in the Augusta Chronicle trumpeted a study from the Medical College of Georgia that revealed that a mother’s breast milk contains special “protective factors” against the COVID-19 virus. With all these health benefits, it is no wonder that so many new mothers, including working moms, strive to breastfeed or express (“pump”) breast milk for their babies. Of course, as working moms know, balancing employment and maternal obligations can be tricky, especially at some workplaces. Fortunately, there are laws in place, so if you’ve been the victim of workplace discrimination triggered by your breastfeeding, expressing milk, or other pregnancy-related condition, then you should contact an experienced Atlanta pregnancy discrimination lawyer to discuss your options.

Here in Georgia, the laws protecting breastfeeding moms in the workplace got a lot stronger last year. The legislature passed a bill that significantly modified O.C.G.A 34-1-6. Before the change, the law said that an “employer may provide reasonable unpaid break time each day to an employee who needs to express breast milk for her infant child. The employer may make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location (in close proximity to the work area), other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express her milk in privacy.”

It is important to “unpack” all of the details of this statute to understand the challenges breastfeeding moms on the job faced before the new bill became law. Almost every time you see the word “may” in a statute, it means “optional.” So, before August 2020, employers could provide break time to nursing moms – and could provide a space to breastfeed or pump — if the employer wanted to. The law imposed no demands on the employer at all. And that break time, if the employer provided it, was unpaid.

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The right to a trial by jury is one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution. It is important to note, however, that not every would-be litigant will have his or her day in court. While the right to have the issues considered by a jury of one’s peers is non-negotiable in a criminal matter, the same is not necessarily true in a civil case.

In a civil matter such as an Atlanta employment discrimination case, there may be the possibility that the matter will be submitted for arbitration rather than proceeding via the traditional litigation process. This is because an increasing number of employers are requiring employees to sign agreements to arbitrate as a condition of employment.

Generally speaking, employers prefer arbitration over litigation because they believe that the attorney fees and legal costs will ultimately be lower and the outcome is more likely to be pro-employer than if the case is heard by a jury. Of course, each case must stand on its own merits, regardless of whether it is litigated, arbitrated, or resolved in some other manner.

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