In Georgia, like many Southeastern states, employment is “at will.” This basically means that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason, or no reason at all, so long as it is not for an illegal reason. The primary illegal reason we see is discrimination on a ground that is specifically prohibited under federal law.
Federal law prohibits discrimination on the following bases: race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age, and disability. Federal law also prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee for exercising his or her right to join a union or take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). These laws protect citizens from termination, denials of promotion, demotions, and failures to hire, if the motivation for doing so is discriminatory.
Before you consult an attorney, remember that these laws do not guarantee you a right to be treated fairly by your employer. To succeed in court, one must show that he or she was treated unfairly because of his or her race, sex, age, disability, etc. This is often difficult to prove, and an attorney can help navigate you through these difficult waters.
These laws also prohibit harassment on the basis of sex, race, etc. However, remember that offhand comments or occasional offensive remarks do not rise to the level required to violate federal law. The law protects only against “severe or pervasive” harassment.
For any claim of employment discrimination, the first step is to visit your local Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) office. A federal court will not allow you to file suit until you have filed a charge of discrimination with EEOC and they have had an opportunity to investigate your claims.
Do you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment in the workplace? Our attorneys can help. James Radford and the attorneys of Decatur Legal, LLC, are experienced in the areas of employee rights, employment discrimination, unemployment benefits, unemployment appeals, and many other civil rights areas. DecaturLegal.com.