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Harassment and Discrimination

Our attorneys offer strong legal representation both for those accused of discrimination and those victims of discriminatory employment practices. With significant experience serving clients throughout Athens and Northeast Georgia, our attorneys are prepared to protect your legal and financial interests.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) bars an employer from discriminating against an individual on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. The ADA (Americans with Disability Act) prohibits discrimination based on disability. The ADEA (Age Discrimination in Employment Act) prohibits discrimination based on age. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), established by Title VII, enforces these laws.

Title VII and the ADA apply to all private employers engaged in an industry affecting commerce which have 15 or more employees for each working day in each of twenty or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year. The ADEA applies to all private employers with 20 or more employees. Under current law, nearly every business “affects” commerce, so the real question an employer must ask to determine if they are covered is how many employees they have. For the purposes of this calculation, the Supreme Court has broadly interpreted the word “employees.” Thus, the employer must count all full-timers, part-timers, hourly employees, temporary employees, and any joint employees (where the employer exercises significant control over the employee of another company).

Generally speaking, Title VII, the ADEA and the ADA prohibit employers from discriminating in any aspect of employment. An employer cannot use discriminatory criteria when it hires, fires, transfers, promotes, assigns work, lays-off, advertises for jobs, recruits, trains, provides fringe benefits, compensates, or awards disability leave.

These statutes also prohibit harassment against individuals based on their protected status. Thus, employers can find themselves liable for damages if supervisors, co-workers or even by third parties engage in harassment of an individual. Usually employers are held strictly (or absolutely) liable for discrimination by supervisors that results in tangible loss of job benefits. In other cases of harassment, employers are generally liable only when the company failed to make reasonable efforts to stop the harassment. What constitutes such reasonable measures depends upon the situation, but, at a bare minimum, employers should alert their employees of their right to be free from harassment and their right to complain about harassment and provide a reasonable avenue to receive complaints.

These statutes also prohibit unintentional discrimination, or discrimination that was practiced without the knowledge or consent of the employer by a manager or other employee. The most common form of unintentional discrimination occurs through the use of employment requirements that have the effect of discriminating against a particular group or class. This “disparate impact” type of discrimination can arise accidentally when an employer installs educational requirements, physical requirements, or other types of restrictions which exclude disproportionate numbers of certain protected groups. However, the employer can avoid liability if it can prove that the requirements are in fact job-related and that the use of these standards is required by a bona-fide business necessity.

Our attorneys offer strong legal representation both for those accused of discrimination and those victims of discriminatory employment practices. With significant experience serving clients throughout Athens and Northeast Georgia, our attorneys are prepared to protect your legal and financial interests.

If you are seeking experienced legal representation with respect to claims of harassment or discrimination, please contact us online or by telephone at 706-548-1151 to speak with one of our experienced employment law attorneys.

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