Is Georgia an At-Will State?
Georgia is an "at-will" employment state, which means that employers and employees alike can terminate their employment at any time for no reason unless the employment contract states explicit reasons for termination.
Although employers in “at-will” employment states are not required to have a reason to lay off an employee, it is unlawful to do so due to an employee’s protected whistleblowing or based on any kind of discrimination. If you have been fired for these reasons, you have the right to bring forward a lawsuit for wrongful termination. Contact HDR Law today to learn how our experienced employment attorneys can help you.
What is a Fair Dismissal Hearing?
To better understand the lawfulness of your termination, it will be helpful to know what constitutes a lawful termination in the first place. Fair dismissal refers to the dismissal of an employee for a lawful reason, which might be capability, qualifications, or conduct, to name a few. If an employer has an established policy for termination, such as in the form of a contract, whether expressed or implied (i.e. company policy), the policy must be followed in the same way for each employee covered to be considered fair.
Do You Have a Whistleblower Case?
Whistleblowing is a protected action that cannot be a reason for an employee’s termination. Federal whistleblower laws protect employees from the consequences of termination for speaking up about an employer’s illegal activity. At the state level, Georgia has two statutes that protect whistleblowers–public and private.
For public employees, the statute upholds that any employee who provides or discloses information regarding illegal policies or actions not in the public interest may not be retaliated against. However, this protection does not apply to:
- Employees who disclose information that they know to be false or who disclose information with reckless disregard for its truth;
- Employees who disclose information from public records that are closed to public inspection; or
- Employees who disclose other confidential information.
Be aware that a public employee must file a written complaint within 30 days from the incident of retaliation and may file a lawsuit only if the complaint is denied.
For private employees, the statute also prevents retaliation, with exceptions similar to those listed above. However, an important requirement is that the employee must provide the information directly to their supervisor or other internal authority before disclosing it to an outside source.
If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated despite your rights to whistleblower protection, contact our employment law team at NDH Law for your next steps.
Did You Suffer Discrimination at Work?
Your employment termination might be unlawful if it was motivated by discriminatory grounds. By law, employers in Georgia are not allowed to discriminate against employees based on any of the following factors:
- National origin
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- Marriage to a coworker
- Sexual orientation
If you feel an employer has terminated your employment or treated you unfairly in the workplace due to any of the above reasons, you should seek an experienced employment attorney to bring forward a lawsuit.
What are the Labor Laws For Salaried Employees?
If you are salaried, there are different legal specifications regarding your employment than non-salaried employees. There is an important distinction between being an exempt salaried employee (not eligible for overtime pay) or a non-exempt salaried employee (entitled to overtime pay). If you are a non-exempt salaried employee, and your employee is requiring you to complete unpaid overtime work, you may have a legal case.
What Damages Can I Receive If I File a Claim Against My Employer?
When you file a claim against your employer, you may be able to recover a variety of damages to compensate you for the financial and emotional losses that you suffered. The goal of the damages is to restore the individual's position to before they had lost their job or suffered losses.
Some of the remedies for discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination cases can include:
- Lost wages
- Future lost earnings
- Lost benefits, sick leave, vacation, pension, etc.
- Emotional distress
- Attorney's fees
- Reinstatement of position
- Reasonable accommodations
- Punitive damages if the employer's actions are especially egregious
Each claim is different, so talk to an attorney to learn more about the specifics of your case.
Schedule a Consultation Today
Whether you would like guidance on examining the legality of your employment termination or believe you have been unlawfully terminated due to whistleblower or discriminatory violations, our team at HDR Law can help. Our experienced employment attorneys have handled numerous cases of injustice in the workplace, and we can help you strategize a strong defense.