Georgia is an “at-will” state, which means that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason, other than one specifically illegal. There are not many laws in Georgia that allow an employee a wrongful termination claim. However, federal laws prohibit discrimination in the work place.
Discrimination occurs when an employee is treated differently from other employees on the basis of a protected status – race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, pregnancy, age, and military service among others. Discrimination can occur if you are denied certain opportunities, but it can also occur if you are harassed or made to feel uncomfortable based on a protected status.
Georgia law does not allow you to be discriminated against for going to jury duty.
There are a number of federal laws that protect people from discrimination including:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as amended (ADAAA), which protects employees with disabilities.
- Title VII, which protects employees from discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy and religion.
- Section 1981 which protects employees from discrimination based on race.
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) which protects employees from discrimination based on age (over 40).
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), which protects employees from discrimination based on genetic information.
- The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which protects employees from discrimination based on military service.
- The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which protects employees from discrimination based on taking protected leave.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), which protects employees from discrimination if they make a complaint regarding workplace safety. This anti-retaliation law has a very short time in which an employee may make a complaint with the Department of Labor. Only 30 days.
- The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which protects employees from discrimination if they make a complaint about the employer failing to properly pay them under this act.
- Retaliation – The above laws each contain anti-retaliation clauses, which punish an employer for treating an employee poorly because the employee made a complaint that they were subject to discrimination. Frequently the retaliation claim is more easily proved than the original discrimination claim.
The term “hostile work environment” means that someone is treated badly in the work place based on a protected status.
If you experience discrimination you have certain rights under the law. However, you must follow procedural rules, including sometimes having to complain to the Department of Labor or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), within a set period of time, and if you do not do so, you may waive your rights.
If you wish to learn more about a specific law, click on the right-hand side of this page, for the specific law.
There is also a page that suggests how an employee should handle discrimination in the workplace, if the employee chooses to handle the issue internally with the employer.
Call us if you would like to set up a consultation to determine your rights, and your next steps. We would love to help – 912-401-0121.