Articles Posted in Employment Law Cases

It is rare that both sides of a Georgia employment discrimination lawsuit agree on the facts leading up to the case. Very often, the employee believes that he or she was unlawfully fired, not promoted, demoted, etc. based on his or her age, gender, race, or disability, while the employer insists that the adverse employment action was based on other, legally acceptable reasons. The issue then becomes whether a termination or other adverse employment decision was based on “legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons” or whether the decision was based on factors (such as age or face) that, under state and federal law, should not be part of the decision process in the workplace. When these two sides conflict, either the trial court will grant summary judgment to one party based on the other side’s inability to produce sufficient evidence to prove that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding one or more claims, or the case will proceed to a jury trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a counselor who filed suit against the defendants, a state university’s board of regents and the director of the university’s counseling center, asserting that she had been the victim of unlawful discrimination. More specifically, the plaintiff alleged that the defendants discriminated against her when they forced her to resign from her employment after she developed multiple health problems following a stroke-like incident in 2015, rather than be terminated.

In her complaint, filed after receiving a notice of the right to sue letter from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the plaintiff sought legal redress for disability discrimination, retaliation, and failure to accommodate under the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. She also sought relief under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the defendants’ alleged violation of her First Amendment rights. The plaintiff’s First Amendment claims were brought against the director in her individual capacity, but all of her other claims were against the university and the director in her official capacity.

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It is unlawful for an employer to take adverse employment action against a worker (or would-be worker) based on matters such as age, sex, race, or disability. An employee who is aggrieved by such conduct should consult an Atlanta employment discrimination attorney about the possibility of filing an employment discrimination claim with the appropriate governmental agency (such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or court.

Remedies that may be available in such cases include injunctive relief, reinstatement, lost wages, and other money damages. The plaintiff has the initial burden of proving discrimination in such cases. As the case progresses, the defendant employer may allege that it has a legitimate reason for its actions. The plaintiff must then show that this reason was “pretext” rather than a true, lawful reason for the conduct at issue.

Facts of the Case

In a recent unpublished federal appeals court case, the plaintiff was a 52-year-old African American woman who worked  as a school secretary/registrar for the defendant school board for approximately two years. After her contract was not renewed and she was unable to find other work in the school district, the plaintiff filed suit in federal district court, alleging claims for racial discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e, et seq., 42 U.S.C. § 1981, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983; age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621–34 (ADEA); and retaliation in violation of Title VII, § 1981, and the ADEA.

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In an Atlanta employment discrimination suit involving government officials as defendants, it is not unusual for defendants named in their individual capacity to seek dismissal of the claims against them based on qualified immunity. Although the doctrine of qualified immunity is complex, a court that grants dismissal of a claim based on qualified immunity is basically saying that a government official who performs a discretionary task in his or her official capacity should be shielded from suit. There are exceptions to qualified immunity, however. One of these involves situations in which the official violated a clearly established law (such as a constitutional right or a federal statute).

Facts of the Case

In a recent unpublished federal court case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (which hears cases appealed from district courts in Georgia, Alabama, and Florida), the plaintiff was a former police officer who first joined the defendant city police department in 1997. He transferred to the defendant’s tactical unit in 2009; notably, the plaintiff’s application to transfer into the unit was initially denied but was granted after he filed a grievance with the personnel board. The plaintiff aspired to work in the unit’s K-9 department, but he was passed over, and white officers were given the positions when openings arose.

The defendant filed a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, complaining of the defendant sergeant’s failure to recommend him for a K-9 vacancy in 2013. In 2015, the EEOC issued a right-to-sue letter. In the meantime, the plaintiff had been injured in a motorcycle accident that limited him to administrative duties, and he subsequently retired. In his complaint, he sought legal redress under both 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and Title VII. The federal district court partially granted and partially denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment. The sergeant sought review of the district court’s decision, particularly its rejection of his claim for qualified immunity.

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Employees who believe that they have been discriminated against due to age by a current, former, or potential employer may assume that they will eventually have their day in court if they file an Atlanta age discrimination claim.

While the United States Constitution does guarantee the right to a jury trial in some situations, the right to have a jury determine the issues in a civil case is not universal. For one thing, an employee many be asked to forfeit his or her right to a jury trial as a condition of employment.

If the worker signs an arbitration agreement prior to going to work for a certain employer, it is highly likely that any disputes between the parties will eventually be settled through arbitration rather than litigation.

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Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq., it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a worker because he or she has opposed an unlawful employment practice. (An employer is also prohibited from discrimination in retaliation for a worker’s formal charge or participation in the investigation of an allegedly unlawful employment practice).

In many Atlanta retaliatory discharge cases, the employer is quick to file a motion alleging that the plaintiff cannot provide adequate evidence to support his or her claim. In order to survive such a motion, the plaintiff must be able to show that he or she participated in an activity that was protected by law, that there was a materially adverse employment action against him or her, and that there was a causal connection between the activity and the adverse action.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent employment law case was a woman who was terminated from the defendant company’s employment in 2017. She filed multiple charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and was issued a notice of suit rights a few months thereafter. The gravamen of the plaintiff’s complaint was that the defendant had fired her in retaliation for her husband reporting that the defendant had allegedly discriminated against an attractive female job applicant who came into the defendant’s office in what some workers characterized as unprofessional attire. (The plaintiff’s husband was also employed by the defendant employer during the relevant time period.)

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The Americans with Disabilities Act was enacted with the purpose of ending discrimination against individuals with disabilities by making it unlawful for employers to discriminate against a qualified individual on the basis of disability.

In order to assert a claim under the Act, a plaintiff must be able to prove that he or she is disabled, is a qualified individual, and was subjected to unlawful discrimination due to his or her disability.

If you believe that you have a claim under the Act, you should talk to an Atlanta disability discrimination attorney about filing a claim. There are time limits in such cases, and it is important that you assert your legal rights in a timely fashion.

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Filing an Atlanta employment law claim can be a complicated endeavor. Unlike many other types of cases, there may be pre-filing requirements that, if not complied with, can result in a claim be dismissed later on.

If you believe that your employer has violated state or federal law, it is important to talk to an experienced attorney about your situation as soon as possible. An attorney can explain your legal rights, help you investigate your case, and make sure all the appropriate paperwork is filed in a timely manner.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who went to work as an employee financial representative for the defendant company in 2013 and had exemplary job performance for her first two years of employment. After witnessing her husband commit suicide in 2015, however, the plaintiff’s work performance suffered because she was grief-stricken and emotionally raw. According to the plaintiff’s complaint, a few months after her husband’s death, the plaintiff reportedly requested an accommodation, but both her manager and his supervisor refused her request. Thereafter, the plaintiff was granted short-term disability leave. About a year later, the plaintiff was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. Her work performance continued to deteriorate, her requests for a transfer to a different office were denied, and she was eventually terminated.

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Everyone wants to be paid fairly, from the most modestly paid fast food worker to the most highly compensated executive. Even judges want to be paid every penny that they are due. In addition to state and federal laws regarding wage and hour issues, there may be other remedies available to a worker who believes that he or she has not been paid fairly. An Atlanta employment law attorney can explain the process of seeking back pay or other compensation that you may be due if  you suspect that your employer has acted illegally with regards to payment of your salary or wages.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a state court county judge who filed a petition seeking a writ of mandamus against the defendants, a county and several of its commissioners. According to the plaintiff, she was owed back pay and other relief due to the defendants’ violation of Georgia Constitution of 1983, Article VI, § VII, Part V. The constitutional provision upon which the plaintiff relied states, in essence, that an incumbent judge’s salary, allowance, or supplement is not to be decreased during his or her term of office; the plaintiff averred that the county had improperly calculated her salary, resulting in an illegal reduction in her overall compensation each year from 2007 to 2017.

The trial court ruled in the defendants’ favor, holding that the plaintiff’s mandamus action was barred by gross laches but, even if it was not, mandamus was not an appropriate vehicle for the relief sought by the plaintiff and, even if mandamus was proper, there was no merit to the plaintiff’s claims.

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In many Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuits, the employer makes an attempt to have the plaintiff’s case dismissed prior to trial via what is known as a “summary judgment” motion.

Summary judgment is appropriate only when the party seeking such relief is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Whether or not this is so revolves largely around the issue of whether there is anything that needs to be resolved by a jury as the trier of fact.

If the parties agree to the basic facts, the court may decide that summary judgment is appropriate. (It should be noted that both plaintiffs and defendants can file a motion for summary judgment, although the maneuver is much more common among defendants).

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There are many ways in which an employer can violate an employee’s rights under state, federal, or constitutional laws. However, not every disagreement about matters in the workplace is actionable in court.

Most Atlanta employment law cases go through a lengthy pre-trial phase, in which an employer may seek dismissal of all or some of the employee’s claims if the employer believes that the employee’s claim(s) is not viable. The trial court makes the initial decision in such situations, but an appellate court may eventually weigh in if one or both parties seeks further review. If you feel your rights may have been violated by your employer, it is important to discuss the matter with an Atlanta employment law attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (the circuit court that hears appeals from federal district courts located in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama), the plaintiff was a man who brought multiple claims against the defendant employer in federal court. These claims included retaliation claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3(a), (Title VII); defamation claims; alleged violations of the Federal Privacy Act; and claims that the defendant violated the plaintiff’s rights under the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, and Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution.

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