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Employment Discrimination Blog

Monday, May 2, 2016

Legal Protection from Wrongful Termination in Georgia

Under what conditions can I file a lawsuit if I am fired in the state of Georgia?

Like other states across the nation, Georgia is an "at-will" state with respect to employment. This means that workers in the Peachtree State can be fired at any time, for any reason or no reason at all. This is not to say that employees have no rights, however. In fact, state and federal laws protect workers from wrongful termination.

Exceptions to the At-Will Rule

Discrimination

In Georgia, an employer cannot fire an employee for discriminatory reasons. Federal law makes it illegal to fire an employee based on the following legally protected characteristics:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Sex (for wage discrimination claims only)
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Age (40 to 70 only)
  • Disability
  • Citizenship status
  • Genetic information

There are limitations to these protections because the law generally applies to employers with 15 or more employees. However, employers with at least 20 employees must comply with age-based rules, while those with 10 or more workers must adhere to the law prohibiting sex-based wage discrimination.

Retaliation

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against employees who complain about harassment or discrimination, file worker's compensation claims, take medical leave or report illegal activity. It is unlawful for employers to take adverse actions such as firing, disciplining, harassing, or demoting these individuals. Other adverse actions include negative evaluations, issuing warnings, salary reductions, changing shifts or job assignments. Finally, an employer in Georgia cannot fire an employee for participating in an investigation of a discrimination complaint.

Other exceptions to the at-will rule include breach of contract, wage and hour disputes, military status, family and medical leave and other time off.  In the end, an employee who has been terminated for engaging in a legally protected activity may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit based on retaliation.

Before pursuing legal recourse for employment discrimination or retaliation through the courts, however, a worker must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If you have been fired illegally, an experienced employment attorney can help you file a claim with the EEOC and also pursue a wrongful termination lawsuit.


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The attorneys of Pankey & Horlock, LLC serve the entire state of Georgia, including Atlanta, Alpharetta, Auburn, Decatur, Doraville, Douglasville, Duluth, Kennesaw, Lawrenceville, Marietta, Stone Mountain, Dekalb County, Fulton County, Gwinnett County, and Cobb County, GA.



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