Employment Law in Georgia

If you have suffered treatment from an employer in Georgia that violates employment laws, learning more about the law can help. Hiring an employment law attorney can best help you navigate the process, and increase the chances of winning your case.

What Is Employment Law?

Employment law covers the rights, responsibilities, and obligations within the employer-employee relationship. Employment lawyers serve both employees and employers, though they generally focus their practice on serving one or the other. Regardless of who their clients are, their goal is to present a solid case and defend them.

Understanding Employment Law Labor Rights in Georgia

Employees have a wide range of rights that employers cannot violate. If employers violate these rights, workers can file a complaint against them. Each state has unique labor laws and some also make provisions for qualifying independent contractors. Below are the most common topics covered in employment law across the country.

Wage and Hour Laws

Laws protect non-exempt employees from being forced to work for low wages and a certain amount of hours without increased pay. These are the wage and hour laws. They outline the minimum wages an employee can earn as well as the maximum amount of hours worked before qualifying employees should get paid overtime.

Georgia, like every other state, has unique wage and hour laws. However, there are federal laws in place that are minimum requirements for all states. For example, the federal minimum wage is $7.25, but most states exceed that amount.

The Fair Labor Standards Act states that non-exempt employees can only work 40 hours per week at their regular wage rates. If they exceed that number, the employer must pay them overtime rates at a minimum of time and a half. Some states also require weekend overtime pay, holiday pay, and overtime for working more than a certain number of hours each day.

According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia’s minimum wage is $5.15 per hour. However, nearly all Georgia employers are subject to federal minimum wage laws, which require paying at least $7.25 per hour. Georgia does not have any state laws regarding overtime. However, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires non-exempt employees to receive overtime for working over 40 hours a week.

Workers’ Compensation

If you’ve been injured on the job in Georgia, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This includes payments for lost wages and past or future medical bills that resulted from your workplace injury. In order to be eligible for workers’ compensation, you must meet these requirements:

  • You must be an employee.
  • You must have a work-related illness or injury.
  • Your employer must carry workers’ comp insurance.
  • You must meet the deadline for filing workers’ comp claims.

There are, however, exceptions to these requirements that may still make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, if your employer is denying you benefits, you should contact an experienced Georgia attorney for assistance with your case.

Termination Rights under Georgia Employment Law

If you live in an at-will state, or your employment is “at-will,” you can be terminated from your job without notice and without cause. However, even at-will employees have rights when it comes to termination. A violation of those rights can be wrongful termination.

Here are some reasons your termination might be wrongful even if you are an at-will employee:

  • Written promises or contracts
  • Implied promises
  • Violations of public policy
  • Breaches of good faith and fair dealing
  • Workplace retaliation
  • Discrimination
  • Defamation
  • Fraud
  • Whistleblowing violations

Georgia is an at-will employment state. However, Georgia is also a Right to Work state. Under Georgia law, an employee cannot be forced to join a union or prevented from joining a union. Additionally, your Georgia employer cannot fire you for your choices about joining a union or participating in union activities.

If you believe your termination was wrongful due to the above circumstances, then contact a qualified Georgia employment law attorney right away. This is because there are time constraints on how long you can wait to file a claim.

Unemployment Benefits

If you’ve lost your job, you can file for unemployment benefits with the state unemployment agency. The agency will either approve or deny your claim. If it’s approved, you’ll receive monthly unemployment checks and benefits in the mail after filing weekly unemployment claims. Still, unemployment claims can be denied for a number of reasons, including:

  • If you were fired for misconduct.
  • You voluntarily quit your job.
  • You do not have enough earnings during the work period.

If your claim is denied, then you can appeal the decision if you think it’s the wrong choice. Working with an experienced Georgia attorney during the appeal process can improve your chances of winning the case.

Paid and Unpaid Time Off

Additionally, some states require paid time off as well as medical and family leave for employees. Oftentimes, this is combined into one singular paid time off, (PTO), amount. Laws can vary state-to-state, but typically PTO is accrued over time and you’ll get a set amount of PTO days per year.

Some states have laws that force the employer to pay for unused PTO. If you are not given proper PTO or your employer doesn’t follow your state’s medical or family leave laws, you can file a complaint.

Unlike some states, Georgia does not require employers to offer any paid sick leave, vacation, or PTO. However, Georgia employees are still protected under the Family Medical Leave Act. This federal law requires employers to grant eligible employees unpaid leave for certain medical and family reasons.

Child Labor Laws

Child labor laws are a lot more strict than regular labor laws and require employers to be extra careful when scheduling minors. Each state has its own child labor laws that outline the number of hours a minor can work per week. These include how often they should have breaks, how many days in a row they can work, and how late they can work each night.

Children under 14 are not permitted to work in Georgia. Also, Georgia Labor Restrictions prohibit children under 16 from working more than 4 hours on a school day. In addition, they cannot work before 6am or after 9pm. However, Georgia does not restrict the work hours for employees over the age of 16.

Georgia Employment Anti Discrimination Laws

A collection of federal anti-discrimination laws protect workers from employment discrimination. Following are brief descriptions of some of these anti-discrimination acts:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act: Prohibits employers from selecting job applicants and employees based on race, religion, color, sex, and national origin.
  • Age Discrimination Act: Prohibits discrimination based on age for employees over the age of 40 years old.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth, or a related condition.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Prohibits employers from discriminating against people with disabilities at any time during the application or hiring process or once the person holds the job.
  • Equal Pay Act: Requires employers to give men and women equal pay for equal work.

Sexual Harassment

If a coworker, employer, or client sexually harasses someone in the workplace; the employee has a set of rights to protect them from further harassment. Laws also offer protection from retaliation, such as getting fired for reporting a manager. If you or someone you know is being sexually harassed in the workplace, report it to your HR department.

Although Georgia does not require sexual harassment training for private employers, it is required for state employees. Unfortunately, Georgia does not have any state laws that specifically address sexual harassment. However, employers with at least 15 employees are subject to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. This federal anti-discrimination law protects Georgia employees from discrimination and harassment based on gender. 

Work With an Experienced Georgia Employment Lawyer

If you have employment law concerns, or you’re currently preparing for a case in Georgia, then working with an experienced attorney can help. The hard part is finding the right one. We can even help you connect with an attorney across Georgia state lines.

Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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