Articles Posted in Wrongful Termination

One of the more stressful things you can encounter at work is discovering hidden wrongdoing by others. Even more stressful is when you’re a public employee and it becomes incumbent upon you to disclose that misconduct. If you’ve done so and you’ve been fired as a result, you have suffered a wrongful termination in violation of the Georgia Whistleblower Act. Contact a knowledgeable Atlanta whistleblower protection lawyer right away to begin taking the necessary steps.

A.B., an employee of a north Georgia sheriff’s department from 2001 until his firing in July 2014, alleged that he was one of those wrongfully terminated whistleblowers. That 2014 termination was preceded by a January 2014 incident where a jail officer used excessive force against an inmate. A.B., the supervisor on duty, prepared a written report. Concerned the excessive force incident might get swept under the rug, he also reported the occurrence to a lieutenant with the Office of Professional Standards (OPS).

Just a few weeks later, A.B.’s supervisor disciplined him, ostensibly for “neglect of duty.” Allegedly, the supervisor cautioned him never to contact OPS because “we’re going to take care of our own in the jail.”

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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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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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An Atlanta wrongful termination lawsuit can arise from several different situations. Among these are cases in which someone is fired because of his or her gender, sex, or race, even if some other, superficial reason is alleged by the employer. Terminations based on a worker’s pregnancy or disability can also trigger a wrongful discharge case, as can the firing of someone who has been hurt on the job or been absent for jury duty. There are some situations, however, in which a termination – though alleged to be wrongful by the discharged worker – is upheld as lawful by the court system.

This can happen when an employer has a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for letting a worker go. A case appealed to the intermediate state appeals court recently explored whether an accusation of sexual misconduct might fall under this category, even though there had not yet been a conviction concerning the allegations.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appellate case, the plaintiff was a man who worked as a tennis manager for the defendant county. In April 2018, however, the plaintiff was the target of a lawsuit in which it was asserted that he had sexually abused a teenage girl at the defendant’s tennis facilities. Although the plaintiff denied the allegations, the defendant placed him on paid administrative leave for a period of about four months. Thereafter, the plaintiff was moved to “unpaid suspension” for another four months. Thereafter, he was terminated; as grounds, the defendant stated that the plaintiff’s excessive absences had resulted in his termination.
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The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that establishes a minimum wage and sets forth the rules that apply to overtime pay. This important statute also codifies certain recordkeeping requirements that are to be imposed upon employers, and it has provisions designed to prevent the exploitation of children in the workforce.

If someone believes that they may have an Atlanta wage and hour claim, it is important that they speak with legal counsel as soon as possible. There are several important steps to asserting one’s legal rights under the FLSA, and deadlines may apply.

A successful FLSA litigant may be entitled to several types of damages, including a court order requiring the defendant employer to pay the plaintiff employee’s attorney’s fees and related litigation costs. The plaintiff employee may also be entitled to monetary compensation for unpaid overtime wages, among other damages.

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It is wrongful for an employer to discriminate against an employee because of his or her race, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, or disability. When an employer violates state or federal laws that forbid such conduct, the affected worker may be able to assert an Atlanta employment discrimination lawsuit.

If an employee (or former employee) is successful in his or her case, multiple forms of relief may be available, depending on the specific situation that gave rise to the claim. This might include injunctive relief (such as an order reinstating the worker to a particular position), front pay, back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and/or attorney fees.

Of course, not every claim of employment discrimination is ultimately successful. The employee must be able to show that his or her race, age, sex, etc., was a motivating factor in the employer’s adverse decision (such as firing the employee or refusing him or her a promotion) and that any supposed non-discriminatory reason for the decision was not merely pretextual; unfortunately, this is not always possible. Continue reading ›

As the saying goes, “There are two sides to a story.” Generally speaking, this is true. However, in an Atlanta wrongful termination case, there may be only one truth, and “the other side of the story” may simply be the opposing party’s attempt to avoid liability.

While the plaintiff in a civil lawsuit has the burden of proving certain things in order to recover money damages or other relief, the opposing party also has certain responsibilities – including defending the case in a manner consistent with the applicable laws, rules, and regulations. When a defendant refuses to play by the rules, causing his or her opponent to waste time, money, and resources in pursuing his or her legal remedies, there can be serious repercussions, including having to pay the other litigant’s attorney fees and costs and, sometimes, punitive damages.

Facts of the Case

In a wrongful termination case recently considered on appeal by the Supreme Court of Georgia, the plaintiff was a man who was terminated from his job in 2012. He filed suit against his former employer, alleging that the employer had breached a severance agreement and other provisions in his contract of employment. While the litigation was pending, the employer’s business was bought by another company, who was then substituted as a corporate successor-in-interest. The trial court granted partial summary judgment to the plaintiff, holding that there was no basis for the employer withholding payment to him. The plaintiff was later awarded attorney fees and litigation expenses, with the trial court holding the employer and its successor jointly and severally liable.

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When workers are party to a collective bargaining agreement, they typically have rights beyond those generally afforded to employees under the law.

When an employer runs afoul of the provisions of such an agreement, there may be consequences, including an Atlanta employment law claim and/or proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board.

If a party is aggrieved by the decision of the Board, there is the possibility of further review from an appellate court.

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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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