Articles Posted in Employment Law Cases

Filing a claim for employment discrimination is not a particularly difficult process, so long as the basic rules for form and timeliness are observed. Winning an employment discrimination lawsuit based on such a claim is a very different matter, however.

Simply believing that one has been the victim of unlawful actions in the workplace is not enough to prevail on a discrimination claim in a court of law. Rather, there must be competent, credible evident that will support each and every element of the plaintiff’s case.

In fact, a case will probably not even be submitted for a jury’s consideration unless there are genuine issues of material fact that, if resolved in the plaintiff’s favor, would entitle him or her to a legal remedy such as money damages or injunctive relief. Thus, it is very important that a would-be litigant in an Atlanta employment discrimination case seek the assistance of qualified legal counsel before going forward.

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Under federal law, persons and companies who defraud the government can be held liable in a court of law for their wrongdoing. Not every false claim filed against a governmental entity will subject the filer to liability, however, as there are certain requirements that must be shown before the applicable statute will be enforced.

An important component of the federal law in question concerns the filing of a qui tam action. Under this provision, an individual, private person can file suit against an allegedly fraudulent filer on behalf of the government. If the suit is ultimately successful, it is possible that both the government and the private person may be awarded monetary compensation.

Additionally, there are provisions in place to protect a private person who files a qui tam action on the government’s behalf. Such “whistleblowers” may not be lawfully discharged on account of their actions in filing on behalf of the government to recoup monies lost due to fraudulent claims. Of course, a person with an Atlanta whistleblower protection claim may still be terminated for other, non-discriminatory reasons.

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Just as in other types of civil cases, an Atlanta age discrimination lawsuit is subject to dismissal if the court in which it is filed lacks subject matter jurisdiction. When a court lacks this type of jurisdiction, it does not have the authority to render a binding decision in the case, and, thus, it must dismiss any claims over which it has no jurisdiction.

Usually, matters of jurisdiction are dealt with fairly early in the litigation process. This is typically done through a motion to dismiss made pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Rule 12(b)(6).

Facts of the Case

In a recent age discrimination lawsuit, the plaintiff was a 72-year-old man who applied for work as a facilities maintenance/construction manager with the defendant governmental agency in 2018. The defendant did not extend an offer of employment to the plaintiff, despite him having more than 40 years of experience in construction project management. Rather, the defendant chose to hire a younger, less-experienced candidate for the job. The plaintiff filed suit, alleging that the defendant had unlawfully discriminated against him in violation of the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

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In an Atlanta employment retaliation case, the plaintiff must show a certain kind of connection to the defendant – and to the violation of the law that allegedly occurred – in order to move forward with his or her case. Sometimes, this is an easy and obvious step of the litigation process.

Other times, the battle is more difficult. Unless the plaintiff can make this necessary connection, his or her case is likely to fail.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiffs were family members of a woman who worked for the defendant bank during the year 2008. The woman was employed as a personal assistant to the bank’s president and CEO during that time. After she was fired, she filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), alleging that the president/CEO had sexually harassed her and then retaliated against her for complaining about the harassment. The gravamen of the plaintiffs’ complaint against the defendant bank was that it had taken adverse action against them in retaliation for the former employee’s protected conduct. (The plaintiffs had various business relationships with the defendant.)

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In attempting to assert an Atlanta employment law claim, it important that the plaintiff include the appropriate allegations and requests for relief. Sometimes, however, more information becomes available as the case develops, such that a plaintiff may attempt to file an “amended complaint” to include the new information or an updated demand for relief.

Depending upon the court rules and the status of the proceedings, the plaintiff may or may not need the court’s permission to file an amended complaint. Likewise, the defendant may wish to alter its answer. A timely request to amend the pleadings is important, regardless of whether it is the plaintiff or the defendant who is making the request.

An amended pleading may appear to give the parties more than a single “bite at the apple,” so to speak. However, there are limitations on what can be accomplished via an amendment, as rules such as the statute of limitations still apply.

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Generally speaking, the person who files an Atlanta employment law case gets choose the court (state or federal) in which the matter will ultimately be tried. However, there are some situations in which this is not so.

For instance, the employee may choose to file his or her lawsuit in state court, only to have the employer remove the case to federal court based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. (Sometimes, it is possible to have the federal court send the matter back to state court (although this is the exception, not the rule).)

As for the reasons for choosing state court instead of federal court (or wanting a case removed to federal court after it has been filed in state court), the reasons tend to be very specific to an individual situation. In one case, there may be a belief that one court or the other may yield a result that is more favorable, or it could be that one court has a lengthy backlog of cases such that it will take substantially longer to get to trial. Location and convenience (or the added expense of inconvenience) may also factor in.

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There are laws in place to protect public employees who do the right thing and report wrongdoing in the workplace, only to find themselves reprimanded, demoted, or even terminated. While these laws will not necessarily keep retaliatory actions from happening, they do provide the basis for an Atlanta retaliatory discharge lawsuit, along with several important remedies that can be of benefit to the plaintiff.

Each case must be tried on it’s own merits, of course, but some commonly available potential outcomes include restoration of the employee’s job and/or benefits, back pay, and/or special damages. The first step in seeking justice in a retaliatory discharge case is to contact an attorney who can help you understand the laws that protect public employees and explain the steps that are necessary in order to assert one’s legal rights thereunder.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiff was former director of administration and finance and assistant executive director for the defendant airport commission. His employment began in 2008 and ended in 2017. He filed suit against the commission, its executive director (who was sued in both in individual and official capacities), and the city in which the airport was located, asserting a claim for retaliatory discharge. According to the plaintiff, he had reported several violations of law and policy by the commission. These included ongoing violations of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, as well as harassment and discrimination against a fellow employee.

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When an employee, former employee, or potential employee seeks to assert an Atlanta employment law claim, he or she must do so in a timely fashion. The exact time for the filing of a claim is dependent upon both the applicable law and the factual circumstances at hand.

For instance, in a “whistleblower” suit filed under Georgia state law, a formal complaint must be filed within one year of the date that the plaintiff discovered the alleged retaliation (but no longer than three years after the retaliatory action). Other factors may come into play as well, but this one-year limitations period will control in most cases.

If the plaintiff in a potential state law whistleblower suit does not take the appropriate legal action in a timely fashion, it is likely that his or her case will be dismissed. In such a situation, he or she may have no legal remedy, despite the employer’s retaliatory conduct.

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When an employee believes that he or she has been wrongfully discriminated against in the workplace, there are several steps that must be taken in order to assert an Atlanta employment discrimination claim. These cases tend to be very fact-specific, and it is important for the record to be fully and effectively developed as the case proceeds towards trial.

An experienced employment law attorney can help an employee who has been fired or passed over for a new job or a promotion as he or she seeks justice in the court system. Thus, one of the most important steps in the process of holding a discriminatory employer accountable for its wrongdoing is talking to an attorney who handles these types of cases.

After filing certain paperwork with the proper state and/or federal agencies, the employee’s next step will be to file a lawsuit, that is, a formal complaint in a court of law. In many cases, the complaint is met with great resistance, often including one or more motions to dismiss the employee’s case.

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In an Atlanta sexual harassment claim filed under Georgia state law or federal law, the defendant will likely seek to have the plaintiff’s case dismissed on summary judgment prior to trial. Summary judgment is only appropriate in cases in which there are no genuine issues of material fact. This is because factual issues are to be determined by the finder of fact – typically a jury, but sometimes a trial court judge – during the trial, not beforehand by a motion judge.

Not just “any” dispute of fact will prevent a decision granting summary judgment (and, most likely ending the plaintiff’s case). Rather, only disputes in which a reasonable jury could find in favor of the party opposing the motion for summary judgment are considered “genuine issues of material fact.” Even though the nonmoving party may ultimately bear the burden of proof at trial, it is the party who seeks summary judgment who has the burden of showing an absence of genuine factual issues that must be resolved at trial.

In attempting to meet this burden, the party seeking summary judgment may rely on the parties’ pleadings, any depositions that have been taken during the discovery phase of the litigation, the parties answers to interrogatories and requests for admissions, affidavits, and the like. Of course, the party opposing the motion may point to similar evidence in resisting the motion. Ultimately, it is up to the trial court judge to decide whether the matter will end with summary judgment or proceed toward trial.

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