Wrongful Termination in Georgia
What Is Wrongful Termination?
While an employer does have discretion over the hiring and firing of employees, there are certain circumstances where a worker can file for wrongful termination. Termination becomes wrongful when it violates Georgia law, federal law, or an employment agreement. A dedicated wrongful termination lawyer understands your rights as an employee and will fight to protect them.
Unlike most states, Georgia strictly follows the at-will employment doctrine, with very few exceptions. For example, Georgia does not recognize a public policy wrongful discharge action in the private-sector. Additionally, Georgia does not recognize the implied contract exception, or the covenant of good faith and fair dealing exception. In fact, a Georgia employer may discharge or alter an at-will employee’s employment for any reason. Unless that reason violates a statutory exception. Under Georgia law, these exceptions include sex discrimination and discrminiation against people with disabilities.
Types Of Wrongful Termination
In Georgia, there are many different instances where wrongful termination can take place. In some cases, an employer is ignorant of labor laws and may not even realize they have erred. This is why big corporations rely on human resources experts. You should always turn to an attorney if you suspect wrongful termination. In the following paragraphs are some of the red flags that you should watch out for.
Limitations of At-Will Employment
Because one of the most common forms of employment is at-will, there are limitations to this. At-will employment doesn’t allow an employer to fire a person for any discriminatory reason. Georgia state, federal, or local laws prohibit these reasons.
According to the Georgia Department of Labor, Georgia is a right-to-work state. This means that an employer cannot force a person to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of employment. This protects a worker who is not hired, or is fired, due to refusal or unwillingness to join a union.
An employer also can’t fire an employee as a form of retaliation for reporting any illegal activities within the company. Were you fired for any of these reasons? If so, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer.
Discrimination is one of the most common forms of wrongful termination. When an employee is fired because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, pregnancy, age, or disability, it violates established laws meant to protect specific personal characteristics. There are also some states that prohibit employers from discriminating based on the gender identity or the sexual orientation of their employees.
If you believe that you have been penalized or fired in Georgia for one of these discriminatory reasons listed above, you may be able to file a claim with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. An experienced Georgia attorney can walk you through the process to help ensure the best possible outcome.
Your employer can’t fire you for certain protected activities. For example, your employer can’t fire you for taking medical leave, or for participating in an investigation of job violations and wage violations. Additionally, filing a complaint with the EEOC, or informing your employer about discrimination or harassment, are not fireable offenses.
Under Georgia’s Whistleblower Protection Act, a public employer cannot make or enforce policies that prevent a public employee from disclosing a violation. Additionally, the public employer cannot retaliate against a public employee for disclosing a violation. Furthermore, a public employee who has been the victim of retaliation may institute a civil action in superior court.
Unfortunately, Georgia courts do not generally recognize a public policy wrongful discharge action in the private sector. However, the courts do recognize private-sector claims regarding statutory exceptions. These include sex discrimination and discrimination against disabled persons.
There are some states that also prevent employee termination for taking time off to vote, perform jury duties, or serve in the military. You also have some protection if your employer has fired you for reporting a violation of safety laws or environmental regulations.
What To Do If You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated in Georgia
Are you suffering from wrongful termination? You may be entitled to compensatory damages, reinstatement, back pay, and other forms of relief. However, the exact definition of wrongful termination will depend on where you live. To find out, contact a dedicated and qualified wrongful termination lawyer. Discuss your circumstances and the Georgia laws that your employer has to follow in your area.
Remember that there are usually time constraints on how long you can wait to file your claim, so don’t delay. This could cause evidence to slip through your fingers or you may miss the deadline altogether. You want a favorable outcome and so will your lawyer, so try to approach your case as proactively as possible, even before you are certain you have one.
According to the Georgia Commission of Equal Opportunity (GCEO), filing any complaint under the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act must be done in a timely manner. Specifically, you must file the complaints with the GCEO within 180 calendar days of the discrimination. For public-sector whistleblowers, Georgia law requires that the individual file a civil action within one year after discovering the retaliation. Alternatively, they can file within three years after the retaliation, whichever is earlier.
Step One: Gather Evidence
It’s important to start gathering all the evidence you can, no matter how small. Ideally, you had reason to suspect that your employer might terminate you wrongfully and started the process some time before. If you need to return to the office to clear out your desk or still have access to the work email, use the opportunity wisely. However, be mindful of any employment agreements or confidentiality issues.
Step Two: Find an Attorney
Hiring an experienced Georgia wrongful termination lawyer will help you take the first steps so that you make a strong case to get the outcome you seek. Georgia employment laws are intricate and are constantly changing. Therefore, you should always work with an attorney who focuses on this specific area.
Step Three: File a Complaint
If you have not yet had your case reviewed by an attorney, the EEOC built a self-evaluation tool to help you decide if filing a claim with them is an appropriate way to handle your case. An attorney simplifies this part of the process by helping you to write the complaint. You serve your employer notice. Then, the resolution process starts there. Note that not all cases make it to a courtroom as some employers prefer to settle.
You can file a complaint with Georgia’s Commission on Equal Opportunity (GCEO). Your first step is to submit the online complaint form to the Intake Coordinator. Georgia’s Equal Employment Division will begin its investigation if the complaint meets the jurisdiction requirements of the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act.
If you are filing with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there are District Office locations in Atlanta, and in Savannah.
Why You Should Hire A Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit in Georgia can be overwhelming, especially if you’ve been treated unfairly by your employer. Speaking to an experienced lawyer can help you to understand what legal rights you have as a victim and if your case is applicable for wrongful termination. For some people, the opportunity to have someone listen also helps to ease the burden they’ve been carrying.
We understand that finding the right attorney can be hard. This is why we created our service to connect clients in need with experienced Georgia attorneys. To match with the right lawyer, you simply provide your location, category, and some other additional information. We then send you your options as soon as they are available.
Our company charges no fees to connect you with the legal services you need. Some Georgia attorneys or practice areas may require legal fees upfront, but there are many that do not. Some professionals may not charge a single penny at all until they win your case.
Are you ready to find a qualified Georgia attorney who can help you fight for your job or get justice for the wrongful termination you suffered? We can even help you connect with an attorney across Georgia state lines.
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