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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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Under state and federal law, there are several different types of claims that may arise in an Atlanta wage and hour violation case, including allegations of unpaid overtime, unpaid hours, minimum wage violations, and/or misclassifications. It is important to contact an attorney promptly if you believe that your employer has violated these or other employment-related laws.

Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs in a recent case were current or former employees of a certain manufacturer of portable storage buildings in Swainsboro, Georgia. They filed suit against the defendants, the manufacturer and its chief executive officer, in 2017, asserting a putative class action arising from what the plaintiffs characterized as an “illegal payday lending scheme within the manufacturing facility.” (Certification as a class action was later denied.)

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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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In an Atlanta employment law case asserting a claim for discrimination, harassment, or other wrongful conduct, it is important that a potential litigant consult a knowledgeable attorney who can help him or her file the appropriate paperwork within the time allowed by law. If this is not done, it is likely that the plaintiff’s case will be dismissed. Of course, simply filing a “complaint” is not, in and of itself, sufficient; it is important that the proper parties be identified and that a valid claim for relief be stated.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who filed multiple complaints against the defendant commissioner, alleging that she had been the victim of harassment and disparate treatment and that the defendant had failed to make appropriate accommodations for her under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The plaintiff’s first two complaints were dismissed as frivolous, after which the plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider in the first action. However, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal before her motion was heard.

The plaintiff then filed a third case, asserting the same claims that she had asserted in her first two lawsuits. In the third suit, however, the plaintiff identified her former employer, rather than an employee, as a defendant, thus correcting the deficiency that had caused her first two cases to be dismissed.

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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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An Atlanta employment law case can be complicated by several factors – including the closing of a business or the legal status of a business’s owners. In a recent federal case, the business in question had been established through a rather complex series of agreements between various parties.

When the dust finally settled, a federal appeals court was called upon to determine whether one particular business owner could be held personally liable for the plaintiffs’ employment law claims, even though he was not the “bad actor” whose actions led to the lawsuit.

Facts of the Case

In a recent (unreported) federal appellate case, the plaintiffs were the former general manager and executive chef of an Atlanta restaurant that closed its doors after the plaintiffs and others had filed a number of claims against its owners, including the one defendant (a local celebrity/promoter who conducted business through a limited liability company) who remained in the case when it reached the court of appeals. The plaintiffs’ claims included allegations of breach of contract, failure to pay minimum wage and overtime wages, and fraud.

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Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, employers are obligated to pay employees in accordance with certain statutes, rules, and regulations. Failure to do so can result in an Atlanta employment lawsuit being brought against the employer under the Act.

Generally speaking, an employee who is fired in retaliation for asserting his or her rights under the Act may, additionally, be able to pursue a claim for retaliatory discharge. However, a recent case explained that there are some exceptions to this general rule.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who worked for the defendant security company for about a year between July 2015 and July 2016. In September 2017, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant, claiming that it had fired him in retaliation for his complaints about the defendant’s alleged violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). According to the plaintiff, the defendant had violated the overtime pay requirements of FLSA, stolen wages owed to him under FLSA, and failed to pay minimum wage under FLSA.

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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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