Retaliation and Discrimination

retaliation and discrimination

Our Georgia employment law firm represents businesses and individuals with regard to legal disputes or issues associated with hiring, disciplining and/or terminating the employment of personnel. We have represented clients in dozens of federal cases involving alleged wrongful termination and can put our experience to work for you.

Representation of Employers

As a business law firm, we help medical practices and other businesses minimize or avoid business risks and expense associated with potential retaliation or discrimination claims by employees and former employees. We provide advice and representation regarding:

  • Staffing and employment protocol, policies and practices
  • Employee handbooks and manuals
  • Employee disciplinary action
  • EEOC claims
  • Department of Labor Disputes
  • Employment Litigation
Representation of Employees

Our law firm has selectively represented professionals, executives and employees in employment law matters that we view as meritorious and important. We have extensive experience with retaliation and discrimination claims under the following statutes:

  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (age discrimination and retaliation)
  • The Rehabilitation Act (discrimination or retaliation tied to certain physical and mental health conditions)
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (discrimination or retaliation tied to certain physical and mental health conditions)
  • The Family Medical Leave Act (interference with or retaliation tied to FMLA-covered leave rights)
  • Title VII (discrimination or retaliation tied to religion, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin)
  • Section 1981(discrimination or retaliation tied to race)
  • Section 1983 (discrimination or retaliation by a government entity.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act (discrimination or retaliation tied to pregnancy).
  • Fair Labor Standards Act (wage and hour issues and retaliation)
  • AIR21 (airline whistleblower matters).

Hamil Little has offices in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia, and we represent businesses throughout Georgia and South Carolina. (See Communities We Serve.) To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, email us at info@hamillittle.com or contact us at our office nearest you.

Federal employment law claim primer

Federal law renders illegal certain types of discrimination in the workplace. While an employer in Georgia or South Carolina can fire an “at will” employee without cause, adverse employment action motivated by certain types of discrimination is illegal. Federal law prohibits, for example, discrimination based on race, ethnicity, nationality, certain disabilities, age, sex or religion. Federal law also makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee for complaining in good faith of conduct they perceived to be such discrimination (whether it actually was or not).

Federal law claims for unlawful discrimination must be based on evidence of actual discrimination, not mere speculation or feelings. However, “smoking gun” evidence is not essential. Often if discrimination (or retaliation) based on an unlawful animus actually occurred, there will be a trail of circumstantial evidence that can be uncovered and developed through proper use of available discovery tools by a skilled lawyer after a lawsuit is filed.

One of the most important aspects of the above federal law protecting employee rights is that, in addition to certain types of discrimination, certain types of retaliation are prohibited by law. Federal law protects a worker’s right to voice his or her opposition to what he or she perceives in good faith to be unlawful discrimination. Opposing or complaining of unlawful discrimination is referred to as “statutorily protected activity,” meaning that federal statutes protect the worker’s right to engage in such conduct. Statutorily protected activity includes voiced opposition to employment practices believed by the employee to be unlawful, an internal complaint of discrimination, or a formal complaint filed with the EEOC or other administrative agency. Further, the protection against reprisal applies without regard to whether actual discrimination occurred. Thus, where an employee properly exercises his/her right to complain of discrimination and thereafter is fired (or demoted) in reprisal for the complaint, he/she will have a cause of action for retaliation.

Many federal discrimination and retaliation claims are subject to a requirement under federal law that the claim first be presented in a “Charge of Discrimination” to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with the responsibility of investigating certain federal discrimination claims. Not all federal discrimination and retaliation claims are subject to this requirement (e.g. Section 1981 claims for race discrimination or retaliation). If a particular type of claim is subject the EEOC’s jurisdiction, however, the failure to timely and properly present the claim to the EEOC in a Charge will result in the claim being barred by federal law. During the EEOC’s investigation of the Charge, the EEOC will solicit information from both the Charging Party (the employee) and the “Respondent” (the employer) about the allegations in the Charge. During this process, it is particularly important to engage the assistance of an attorney because what is stated in writing by both sides will be scrutinized in the subsequent litigation. The EEOC will conclude its investigation by issuing a notice of the Charging Party’s “right-to-sue.” Upon receiving that notice, the employee will have 90 days to file suit. The failure to timely initiate the litigation will bar the employee as a matter of law from bringing the claim at all.

What legal or equitable remedies are available to a successful plaintiff in a federal discrimination or retaliation cases depends upon the specific statutes that apply and the evidence of the case. However, in general, the following types of damages often may be sought:

  • Economic damages such as back pay (the compensation that would have been received up to the point of trial but for the adverse employment action, including all applicable employment benefits (such as vacation, employer pension, profit-sharing, and 401(k) contributions, stock options, etc.) and front pay (calculated in the same manner as back pay for a minimum of thirty-six months measured from the date judgment is entered in the Plaintiff's favor.
  • Compensatory damages for humiliation, feelings of discrimination, frustration, anger, embarrassment, etc., caused by the adverse employment action.
  • Punitive damages (for some federal claims)
  • Liquidated damages (for some federal claims)
  • Prejudgment interests
  • Attorney’s fees and expenses

Our firm has offices in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia to serve our clients throughout the Communities We Serve. To schedule a consultation, email us at info@hamillittle.com or contact us at our office closest to you.