Articles Posted in Employment Discrimination

When this blog looks at recent case decisions, we often explore outcomes where an injured worker was successful. Sometimes, though, cases that ended unsuccessfully provide the best lessons and tips for a worker contemplating a discrimination lawsuit. Of course, whether it involves utilizing cases where the other worker won or lost, count on a knowledgeable Atlanta age discrimination lawyer to take the law, alongside the specific facts of your situation, and combine them for the strongest possible case.

The age discrimination case of R.W. is good example of how another worker’s failure may help pave the way for your success. R.W., the deputy fire chief for a city just south of Macon, responded to a fire alert he received on his cell phone at roughly 8:00 p.m. one night in 2018.

The deputy chief’s regular shift ended at 5:00 and, in the intervening three hours, he allegedly drank one 24-ounce beer. At the scene, a lieutenant and an assistant chief each allegedly noticed the smell of alcohol on the deputy chief’s breath. The deputy chief also allegedly was “slurring his speech a little.” The deputy chief denied having consumed alcohol.

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Over the last decade-plus, much has been made about the way Americans obtain healthcare services and health insurance. Even after the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most Americans still get their health insurance coverage via their employer. Given the cost of healthcare in this country, employer-provided health insurance coverage often represents one of the more important terms and conditions of any job. That means that a denial of coverage on an improper basis can constitute illegal discrimination. If it’s happened to you, a knowledgeable Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can help you learn more about protecting your rights.

One Georgia deputy’s discrimination case represents an important area where employer-provided health insurance coverage issues may constitute a Title VII violation: exclusions from coverage for gender-affirming care.

In 2018, A.L., a trans woman and a deputy in the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, notified her employer that she was trans and began transitioning. She underwent hormone therapy and “top surgery.” (Top surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic, seeks to “increase breast size and change the shape of the chest” to make it more feminine in appearance.)

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A situation where an employer terminated or demoted an employee shortly after that employee made a complaint about illegal discrimination or harassment is one possible example of impermissible retaliation. However, what can constitute actionable retaliation goes way beyond that. If your employer took punitive action against you because you spoke up against illegal employment practices, then you should get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta employment retaliation case.

As an example of how broadly the law against retaliation stretches, there is this case from neighboring Alabama, in which the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose decisions control federal cases in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida) entered a decision in January.

The worker, J.S., was an administrative assistant working for a local police department in suburban Birmingham. In the summer of 2015, the police chief denied the assistant’s request to take a day off using her compensatory time. As a result, the assistant made a formal written complaint to human resources accusing the chief of sex discrimination. The complaint alleged that the chief treated J.S. differently than the department’s male employees when it came to approving the use of earned compensatory time.

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Mental health conditions can be challenging things for those who have them. People may fail to understand your condition, may fail to appreciate the severity of the condition, or otherwise not treat the condition with the care necessary. When those failures have an impact on your job, they may represent disability discrimination in violation of the law. If you’ve endured such a scenario, an experienced Atlanta disability discrimination lawyer may be able to help.

Recently, news sources around the world reported on the case of a Kentucky man who recovered a six-figure civil judgment. Some headlines appeared to say that the man received a $450,000 payday because his employer threw him a birthday party he didn’t want.

The truth, as is often the case, was far more complex. The employee was a man who had an anxiety disorder that intermittently triggered panic attacks. One such trigger was being placed at the center of attention, such as celebrations of his birthday.

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If you believe that you’ve been the target of discrimination at work, the right Atlanta employment discrimination lawyer can help you in innumerable ways. One of the key areas where your attorney will help is the composition of the complaint that you’ll file with the court.

There are certain things you must do and certain things you must not do, and failures in these areas can lead to the dismissal of your case. Getting this right is critical, and many potential traps await those who don’t know what they’re doing.

The discrimination case of an employee at a southwest Georgia college makes for a good example. In any discrimination case, you have to allege that you suffered some type of adverse employment action. There are a lot of different actions your employer can take that the law may recognize as adverse. Obviously, getting fired is an adverse action. So is a demotion, and even a lateral transfer may be adverse if your new job has lower pay or is less desirable or prestigious.

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Employers today continue to innovate in many areas related to the operation of their workplaces. When they do so, modifications in the way workplaces function may impact many areas. Sometimes, they may even violate certain employment laws, like the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or the Family Medical Leave Act. If that has happened to you, don’t suffer in silence. Instead, retain an experienced Atlanta employment retaliation lawyer and take action.

One of those relatively recent innovations is the “no-fault” attendance policy. These policies are used by some of America’s biggest employers, in industries ranging from food processing to hospitality to manufacturing to retail. Under a “no-fault” system, you, as an employee, incur a “point” (sometimes called an “occurrence”) each time you have an unplanned absence, late arrival, or early departure, regardless of the reason.

On the surface, it might sound good, as it potentially removes the need to jump through various paperwork-acquisition tasks and other hoops to justify or excuse your absence. However, these policies have downsides. For one thing, some can automatically trigger severe consequences after an employee exceeds a certain number of occurrences. These consequences may include a suspension without pay or termination, even if all of the employee’s absences were legitimate and medically based.

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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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