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Racial Discrimination

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Activist Push for Workplace Rights for LGBT

 Georgia is one of 29 states without laws that specifically protect LGBT citizens against discrimination in the workplace.  A gay couple could be married on a Saturday and fired on Monday because the couple’s employers are uncomfortable with their employee’s sexual orientation. In much of the state, this is perfectly legal behavior.

In the city of Atlanta, however, things are different. The Human Rights Campaign, a national advocacy organization that grades the inclusiveness of municipal governments, gave Atlanta a perfect score of 100 in 2013 and 2014, citing its nondiscrimination laws that include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and its creation of LGBT community liaisons.

Activists intend to push for workplace rights for LGBT state employees during the 2016 legislative session, even though similar legislation has failed to pass in previous sessions. There is reason to suspect that this session might be different, however. There is a change in public opinion and the measure now has 77 cosponsors, 17 of whom are Republicans. Jeff Graham, the executive director of Georgia Equality, which supports the bill, says “if a bill does not have Republican support, it’s not going to pass.” The proposed bill would only affect State employees. Private employers would still be permitted to make employment decisions based on their employees sexual orientation.

Other members of the State legislature are reintroducing measures meant to protect business owners' religious freedom. State Senator Josh McKoon the proposed legislation would protect religious rights against government interference. Critics claim it will give business owners a license to discriminate against minorities. Last March, the bill created much controversy until it was tabled following a contentious hearing. This divisive issue is very much in flux in the state of Georgia.

If you feel that your workplace rights have been violated, you need an experienced attorney who is aware of the changes occurring in our state’s laws to help guide you through the process.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Employee of Georgia Organization Claims Race and Gender Discrimination

As a black female, can I sue my former employer for undermining my work and passing me over to promote a white male?

A Georgia woman who worked for a teacher's advocacy group has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit over her failure to receive a promotion.

Tracey-Ann Nelson, a former lobbyist with the Georgia Association of Educators, alleges that she was a victim of both race and gender discrimination when her then-employer selected a while male, instead of her, to serve as executive director of the organization. 

In her lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Atlanta, Ms. Nelson, who is African-American, says the organization not only passed her over for promotion but also undermined her advocacy efforts on behalf of teachers in the Georgia House of Representatives. She alleges that her ex-employer's president and the new executive director questioned the Georgia House Minority Leader about Nelson’s performance. She believes their conduct adversely affected her effectiveness as a lobbyist.

Nelson left the Georgia Association of Educators and is now Executive Director of the Arkansas Education Association. In her lawsuit, she is seeking back pay, financial damages, and other remuneration.

Without addressing specific allegations, the General Counsel of the Georgia Association of Educators denied Nelson's race and gender discrimination claims. He stated that a racially diverse board of women and men turned down Nelson's application to be executive director. He also said the organization would vigorously defend against the claims made in the employment discrimination lawsuit.

Suing a former employer can be a battle, but the skilled attorneys at Pankey & Horlock, LLC have effectively represented the interests of employees throughout Georgia in all types of employment and workplace discrimination claims. For a free confidential case evaluation, call the experienced legal team at 770-670-6250 today or schedule a consultation online.  


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Overview of Workplace Discrimination Law in Georgia

As an employee in the Georgia workforce, you are protected by certain state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination. If you believe you are being subjected to unfair and unlawful treatment at your job, you have a number of legal options against your employer – all of which offer you additional protection against retaliation by your boss. If you decide to pursue a complaint, you will in most cases launch your initial complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. From there, you can pursue a private lawsuit under Georgia and federal law with the help of an employment discrimination attorney.

Georgia’s Prohibitions Against Workplace Discrimination

To prevail in a discrimination action, you must belong to a protected category of people. The following lists the protected categories under Georgia law, which borrows many of its protections from federal laws. An employment discrimination suit may be based on any of the following:

  • Age: It is unlawful to discriminate against any worker aged 40 years or older. Georgia laws impose possible misdemeanor criminal charges against any employer discriminating against workers between ages 40 and 70.

 

  • Bankruptcy: An employer may not make a detrimental employment decision against any worker based on that worker’s decision to file bankruptcy.

 

  • Disability: Disability laws are covered by the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Georgia Equal Employment for People with Disabilities Code. An employer is required to make a reasonable accommodation for a disabled individual, unless the proposed accommodation would cause the employer extreme expense or difficulty.

 

  • Equal Pay: An employer must pay men and women equally who are performing the same job.

 

  • Pregnancy: Employers are forbidden from discriminating against a woman based on childbirth, pregnancy and related medical conditions.

 

  • Race, Color, Religion, Sex or National Origin: Federal law has long-held it unlawful to discriminate against any worker based on these factors. These laws are based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 

Harassment in the Workplace in Georgia

Harassment in the workplace is an intolerable violation of your rights as an employee. Federal and Georgia laws prohibit any unwelcome conduct “based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information.” The conduct must be continuous in nature and severe enough to cause a reasonable person distress and discomfort. This type of conduct could include offensive jokes, emails, name calling, assaults, threats of violence, intimidation, ridicule or offensive objects and pictures.

 

Wrongful Termination in Georgia

If you find yourself out of a job and believe it is based on any of the above-listed characteristics, you may have a cause of action for wrongful termination. Keep in mind, however, that Georgia is an employment-at-will state. This means that an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all – provided the reason is not discriminatory in nature.

If you are experiencing wrongful conduct at your workplace, or were recently fired for possible discriminatory reasons, contact a GA employment discrimination attorney for consultation today.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Georgia Employment Discrimination Laws and Workers’ Rights

Federal and Georgia laws pertaining to employment discrimination are intended to be fair, intuitive and easy to understand. Yet, often, employers make mistakes when managing issues relating to employees’ illnesses, disabilities and religious rights, and even employees’ gender and race. Employees, too, often fail to understand their full rights when involved in employer/employee disputes regarding possible discrimination. The seriousness and frequency of employment discrimination in Georgia is evidenced by cases described by the American Civil Liberties Union’s website; it discusses recent cases in Georgia involving:

  • Employees’ right to work while living with such diseases as AIDS and epilepsy
  • Muslim employees’ right to wear a religious headscarf while at work
  • Employers’ obligations when a customer makes a racially motivated request
  • Laws protecting whites and males when an employer seeks to increase the diversity of its workforce
  • Employees’ rights to religious conversion
  • Pre-employment credit checks and racial profiling
  • Veterans’ employment rights, including the rights of veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Workplace bullying combined with discrimination
  • Employers’ failures to promote individuals with diabetes and other diseases
  • Obesity, age, race- and gender-related activism and numerous other areas and issues

 

What Constitutes Employment Discrimination in Georgia?

If you are an employer or employee in the state of Georgia, it’s important to remain up to date and knowledgeable about your legal rights and obligations. A good start includes an understanding that, in our state, it’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of age, religion, disability, race, ethnicity, national origin and gender. Employment discrimination relating to these protected categories usually involves:

  • Firing/termination
  • Promotions, compensation and benefits
  • Hiring practices
  • Work environment
  • Disability leave, maternity leave and retirement options
  • Lay offs

 

In What Instances Is Discrimination Not Discrimination?

It may be helpful to understand discrimination that is perfectly legal. Though it may seem objectionable, employers in Georgia are perfectly within their rights to fire you, deny you a raise or promotion or reduce your pay based on:

  • Your bankruptcy history (though some courts have ruled that, while current employers can discriminate against employees based on bankruptcy, potential employers cannot)
  • Your political views
  • Your appearance
  • Nepotism (meaning favoring someone who is related to someone over someone who is not)
  • Your credit history

 

Overlap between what is legal and what is not is common. For instance, an employer can discriminate against you because you are overweight, but may not be able to legally do so if your weight is linked to a disease. Your employer can discriminate against you because you dress badly, but your employer may be breaking the law if it has a dress code for women but not for men. And while you can be fired for your political views, if your political views are tied to working conditions or another issue involving employment law, your may be protected from discrimination. To be sure of your obligations and rights regarding employment law in Georgia, the best move is to contact an experienced employment law attorney. 


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