Articles Posted in Retaliation

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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When it comes to things like minimum wage, overtime, and Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave, there are multiple different ways that your employer can violate the law. First, there’s the violation itself, in which your employer denies you what the statute demands. Additionally, though, many cases involve retaliation, where an employer punishes an employee for asserting (or, in some instances, merely inquiring about) their statutory rights. An experienced Atlanta employment lawyer can help you determine if retaliation occurred in your case and how to pursue relief for that retaliation.

Last month, the U.S. Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) issued a new guidance document focusing on the issue of retaliation. Specifically, the bulletin placed a spotlight on instances of retaliation against workers who assert their rights under the FMLA, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and other labor laws.

As the bulletin noted, legal protections against retaliation are necessary to safeguard workers’ rights. A worker forced to choose between being illegally underpaid or having no job at all reasonably might choose the former over the latter. As a result, “it continues to be of paramount importance that WHD fully enforce the anti-retaliation provisions of the laws.”

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The law gives many workers certain rights. The right to a minimum wage, the right to overtime pay, and the right to a workplace free from sexual harassment and certain forms of discrimination are a few of those. When you, as a worker, stand up for those rights — whether yours or a coworker’s — you shouldn’t be punished for it, but too many are. If you’re concerned about retaliation at your job, you owe it to yourself to get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta workplace retaliation lawyer to discuss your situation.

Often, people associate workplace retaliation with a discrete form of punishment. For example, a worker who got fired just a few weeks after filing a formal sex discrimination complaint, or a worker who was demoted just a couple of months after settling an unpaid overtime lawsuit. Those kinds of adverse employment actions, while potentially valid bases for a retaliation claim, are not the only type, however.

It’s also possible that you can be harmed by what’s called a “retaliatory hostile work environment.” A retaliatory hostile work environment happens your protected activity triggers misconduct directed at you that rises to a level of hostility that would motivate a reasonable person not to speak out about a violation. Well-represented recent plaintiffs are continuing to reap the benefits of this newer pathway to success in a retaliation claim.

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We all know that workers have certain rights established by Georgia law and federal law. For many workers, it’s not as simple as that. They fear that, if they invoke those rights, they will incur harm that will have a long-lasting negative effect on them and their career going forward. Do not let this fear scare you away from contacting an experienced Atlanta minimum wage and overtime lawyer and pursuing your legal options. Not only does the Fair Labor Standards Act give you certain rights regarding your pay, but it also gives you the potential opportunity to recover compensation if your employer retaliated against you for seeking the fair pay you deserve.

Many news outlets, including major ones like AP, UPI, NPR, and Fox News have sections dedicated to news that is “weird,” “odd,” or “strange.” A lot of these make for fun reading and perhaps a few laughs. Some, however, can be more educational than funny.

Take, for example, a recent peculiar story about an employment dispute that occurred right here in North Georgia. The employee, A.F., worked at an auto shop in Peachtree City. When A.F.’s employment at the shop ended, the employer did not pay him his last paycheck. Still owed $915, the worker took his complaint to the U.S. Department of Labor.

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No one should, as a worker, have to choose between their job and speaking out when they see discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace. Too many times, though, speaking out does lead to workplace punishment. When that happens to you, it is possible that your employer has engaged in illegal retaliation, so you should get in touch with a knowledgeable Atlanta employment lawyer to learn more about the legal options that may exist for you.

P.P. alleged in her Title VII case that that was exactly what happened to her. She worked as a supervisory employee for a burger restaurant in Atlanta where the owner-franchisee was the higher ranking person and the general manager was second in command.

One day in November 2018, the supervisor allegedly saw the general manager grope a male worker, but P.P. didn’t confront the manager. When the owner learned about the incident elsewhere, she began her own investigation during which she interviewed P.P. The supervisor told the owner what she saw and offered to provide a written statement.

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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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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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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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Federal laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. § 12112, et seq., and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), 29 U.S.C. § 2601, et seq., provide valuable protections to workers who are disabled, become ill, or find themselves as caregiver for an ailing family member. However, there are limitations on the provisions of these laws, and not every Atlanta employment discrimination or retaliatory discharge case based on their alleged violation will be met with success.

As with other civil suits, the plaintiff has the burden of meeting certain elements of proof in order to prevail in his or her suit. Employers typically seek dismissal of the various claims filed against them if at all possible, and it is not unusual for a trial court to dismiss some (or even all) of a plaintiff’s claims prior to trial.

Facts of the Case

In a recent employment law case, the plaintiff was a woman who began working as a manager of a discount warehouse club owned by the defendant employer in March 2017. Between that time and the day that she was ultimately terminated in late 2018, several significant events occurred, including  multiple “coachings” regarding the plaintiff’s performance of her job, a pregnancy, and a work-related injury. After being terminated for an alleged “inability to perform her job,” the plaintiff filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Thereafter, in 2019, the plaintiff filed suit in federal court, asserting claims for a) retaliation, discriminatory discharge, and failure to accommodate in violation of the ADA and b) for interference with her rights under the FMLA.

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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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