Articles Posted in Employment Law Cases

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It’s been said that “breaking up is hard to do.” While this can certainly be true of romantic relationships, it can also be true of professional Georgia business partnerships. Just as former spouses and romantic partners can go from being in love to holding one another in contempt, business relationships, too, can deteriorate to the point where parting company is the only workable solution. Of course, sometimes one (or both) parties to a breakup holds onto the hostilities and acrimonious feelings, causing the situation to worsen over time.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the “contentious relationship” of two former business partners (doctors, who worked together as partners in an Atlanta medical practice) resulted in litigation that made its way all the was to the state’s highest court. The plaintiff complaint alleged causes of action for (among other things) civil conspiracy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, invasion of privacy, slander and oral defamation, and tortious interference with business relations.

After the defendants filed a motion to strike matter from the plaintiff’s pleading on the ground that it was “scandalous,” the trial court struck approximately 15 paragraphs of the plaintiff’s complaint. The intermediate court of appeals reversed most of that order, and the defendants appealed. Continue reading →

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It is not unusual for a potential employee to be asked to sign a covenant not to compete as part of the hiring process in certain industries, particularly those involving sales. These agreements are clearly designed to favor the employer, not the employee, and are designed to prevent the employee from “stealing business” from the employer by luring customers to another company should the employment relationship end.

If the employee leaves his or her employment and the employer believes that the covenant not to compete has been violated, it may file suit against the employee, seeking injunctive relief, attorney fees, and other possible remedies. If you have a question that relates to a covenant not to compete, reach out to an Atlanta employment law attorney.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a building supply company that sought to enforce a contractual agreement entered into between it and the defendant, a former employee. In September 2017, the trial court entered an order in the plaintiff’s favor, ordering the defendant to cease competing against it as a salesman (or in other capacities) for a period of two years. Less than two months later, the plaintiff filed a motion for contempt, claiming that the defendant had disobeyed the court’s order.

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An Atlanta employment lawsuit can arise in many different contexts. The legal remedies that may be available to a person whose employer has acted in violation of the law can vary, depending upon the circumstances. It is important to note that the plaintiff in such a case has the burden of providing credible evidence of the employer’s alleged wrongdoing, or else his or her claim will likely fail.

Facts of the Case

In a recent federal case, the plaintiff was an African-American female police officer who filed suit against the defendants, a city manager and a police chief, seeking relief under three federal statutes (42 U.S.C. § 1983, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and 42 U.S.C. § 1985) due to her termination for actions during a traffic stop involving a personal acquaintance. At first, the plaintiff was only placed on administrative leave so that an investigation could be performed. An outside agency then investigated the matter and concluded that the plaintiff had violated the standard operating procedure of the police department for which she had worked for some 15 years. More specifically, the agency determined that the plaintiff may have violated a procedure governing professional image and may have committed an obstruction of the deputies involved in the traffic stop. At some point after the investigation, the plaintiff was terminated.

The defendants sought summary judgment as to the plaintiff’s claims against them.

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In a Georgia employment law case, a worker who has been fired or has voluntarily left his or her employment may make a claim for unemployment benefits. However, such a claim may be met with resistance by the workers’ former employer, especially if it was the employee, rather than the employer, who terminated the working relationship between the parties.

This is because, generally speaking, those who voluntarily quit a job are not entitled to receive unemployment benefits. However, it is worth noting that there are some important exceptions to this general rule.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a commercial driver for the defendant sanitation service. After being employed by the defendant for about two years, the plaintiff was involved in a traffic accident while performing his duties. The accident involved a fatality. The plaintiff was not at fault in the accident. Due to physical injuries he suffered in the crash, the plaintiff did not immediately return to work. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and told the defendant that he could no longer drive professionally due to trauma that he suffered in the accident.

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While many Atlanta employment lawsuits involve claims made by a private individual against his or her corporate employer, not every case follows this model. In some suits, the defendant is a governmental entity for whom the plaintiff worked or aspired to work.

In such a suit, the person seeking to assert a legal remedy may be an employee of the defendant governmental entity, or he or she may be someone in a position of authority.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent Georgia Supreme Court case was a mayor who was officially removed from office by the defendant city in May 2017. The removal occurred as a result of a hearing, presided over by a municipal court judge, in which the defendant’s city council voted to remove the plaintiff from his position. The plaintiff first sought review of that decision by filing a direct appeal in superior court but later filed a petition for a writ of certiorari. For awhile, the plaintiff continued to work as mayor, receiving his usual salary and benefits, but he stopped working at some point while the case was pending.

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In certain types of businesses, it is not unusual for an employee to be asked to sign a covenant not to compete against his or her employer, should he or she choose to terminate his or her employment in the future. An employee who chooses to violate such an agreement may find himself or herself the defendant in an Atlanta breach of contract action to enforce the terms of the employment agreement.

Of course, not every such agreement is enforceable in court. Typically, a covenant not to compete must be reasonable in scope and duration, issues that, ultimately, are up to the court to decide.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent state court case was a limited liability company that owned a barbershop in Atlanta. The defendant began working as a master barber for the plaintiff’s barbershop in 2015. At first, the defendant was classified as an independent contractor, but, after two of the plaintiff’s employees left to open competing businesses in close proximity to its barbershop, the defendant was asked to sign an employment contract. This agreement contained several restrictions on the defendant’s post-employment activities, should she choose to terminate her employment with the plaintiff.

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Having knowledgeable and assertive legal representation in an Atlanta employment discrimination case is crucial. Although the law allows those who choose to represent themselves the freedom to do so, this is almost never a good idea.

Unfortunately, a Georgia woman (who, ironically, worked for the court system against which she attempted to bring suit) found this out the hard way. Because she had named the wrong defendant in her lawsuit, her case was dismissed.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiff in a recent case was an employee of a certain county juvenile court. Choosing to represent herself rather than hire an attorney, the employee filed suit in federal court against the defendant, the consolidated city-county government of the town and county in which the juvenile court where the plaintiff worked was located. In her complaint against the defendant, the plaintiff alleged that she had been the victim of unlawful discrimination and sought various legal remedies under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e to 200e-17.

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Atlas Logistics Group Retail Services (Atlanta), LLC had a relatively serious business problem stemming from what it believed was employee misconduct. The employer also had what it thought was a viable solution. It just needed DNA samples from some of its employees to identify the misbehaving worker. Unfortunately for Atlas, its plan had one major flaw:  it was against federal law. As of June 22, that flaw cost the employer $2.25 million in damages awarded to two employees for the employer’s violation of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act.

The problem began when Atlas discovered several piles of human feces in one of its warehouses. While disturbing to any employer, the issue was especially problematic for Atlas as a company that warehouses food products sold to grocery stores. Atlas collected DNA cheek swabs from employees Jack Lowe and Dennis Reynolds. A lab compared the DNA of the men to DNA from the feces and found no matches.

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