Articles Posted in Employment Law

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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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If your employer is shaving your hours, don’t think you’re powerless to stop it. Save the evidence you do have, and don’t worry about the evidence you don’t have — holding employers accountable and collecting your due is an achievable result. Continue reading →

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A new rule issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) amends the Family Medical Leave Act’s (FMLA) definition of “spouse” to include same-sex couples married in states where same-sex marriage is legally recognized.

Under the new rule, codified at 29 C.F.R. § 825.102 and 825.122(b), two people are married for purposes of the FMLA if the jurisdiction in which they were married recognizes them as legally married. The old rule looked to the place of the couple’s residence, which meant that same-sex couples who resided in Georgia and Tennessee were not currently eligible for FMLA leave, even if they were married in one of the growing number of states that has legalized same-sex marriage.

The new rule also contemplates couples married outside the United States. A same-sex marriage or same-sex, common-law marriage originating in another country will be recognized under the FMLA so long as the couple could have been married or common-law married in at least one U.S. state.

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Recall, if you will, the plight of Seinfeld’s George Costanza. Embarrassed by a co-worker’s snide comment at a big meeting, he spiraled into near-psychosis while fixating on the “perfect” comeback he only thought of long after the fact. Determined to use his confusing “jerk store” retort, he stalked the co-worker even after he moved on to a new job two states away just to induce his nemesis into repeating the original comment in another meeting. When everything fell into place, Costanza unleashed his well-rehearsed insult, only to have it turned back on him by some quick thinking he didn’t expect.

To be hoisted by one’s own petard in a business meeting is one thing, but to have it happen in front of a virtually unlimited international audience is quite another, as one bitter former employee discovered recently. Having been fired by the social network Reddit, the former employee decided it would be a good idea to use the company’s own popular “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) forum to discuss his old job and speculate on what lead to his dismissal, despite having signed a non-disparagement agreement. While things started off civilly enough, the former employee’s musings on why he was fired devolved into several attacks on the company’s policies and culture. That’s when the CEO of Reddit stepped in to clear some things up.

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By looking at the uniforms and the trucks and scanners and just about everything else associated with any FedEx delivery driver, it’s more than reasonable that one would naturally assume they’re part of a massive payroll consisting of tens of thousands of employees for the Tennessee-based corporation. FedEx, however, would tell you that assumption is wrong. Instead, the company has a lengthy history of using independent contractors with dedicated routes to deliver its packages around the country.

Outfitted with FedEx logos, uniforms, and operating systems, it’s easy to see why a layperson might confuse the independent contractors for employees, and now courts around the country are beginning to agree. Fueled primarily by a string of class action labor lawsuits brought by FedEx drivers, state and federal courts have been thrust into deciding whether those drivers can proceed on claims reserved for employee-employer relationships. Last month, a pair of decisions from the Ninth Circuit appeals court found that, at least in California and Oregon, those drivers are actually employees of FedEx.

Spurred by claims for unpaid overtime and employment expenses as well as Family and Medical Leave Act violations, among other things, the first hurdle for the hundreds of drivers represented by the class action was to prove themselves eligible to recover on those bases. Doing so meant demonstrating that their arrangement with FedEx fell under the purview of employment. In a previous blog post, we discussed some of the basics of what distinguishes independent contractor status, but the Ninth Circuit went into great depth as it picked apart the many factors that demonstrated how little “independence” these drivers actually have.

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