If you work for a Georgia company and believe that your employer has engaged in unlawful discrimination in the workplace, one of your first questions probably relates to your legal options. In most cases, your remedies for employment discrimination matters are administrative in nature: You file a charge with the relevant agency, participate in an investigation, and attempt to resolve your claim with your employer. Of course, this explanation will probably raise another important question as follow-up: Should I file a Georgia employment discrimination claim under federal or state law?
As with any legal issue, the answer depends upon your circumstances, so it is essential to consult with a Georgia employment discrimination lawyer regarding the details. However, an overview of the legal landscape of federal and state employment discrimination laws may help you understand the complexities.
Protections Under Civil Rights Statutes: Your choice of seeking legal remedies is clear-cut if you work for a private company. Georgia does not have a law that covers an umbrella of protected classes and/or protected activities for non-government employees; the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act only applies to workers who are employed by the state government.
Instead, your employment discrimination claim falls under the protections of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which means you will file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII makes it illegal to discriminate against a worker because of:
- National origin;
- Sex; or,
Still, employees at smaller companies may have to pursue other options, since Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more workers.
Discrimination on Account of Disability: Both the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Georgia’s Equal Employment for Persons with Disabilities Code prohibit employers from treating workers differently because of age. The statutes are similar in terms of the number of employees that require compliance by an employer, at 15 workers. Each law also incorporates provisions regarding employer adverse action, refusal to provide reasonable accommodations, and inquiries about the nature of a disabling medical condition.
Equal Pay Laws: When it comes to misconduct in terms of paying different wages to men and women, you may have the advantage when filing a complaint against a smaller employer under Georgia’s Equal Pay Act. The state law applies to companies that employ 10 workers, while the federal version covers employers with 15 or more employees. You would file your charge with the Georgia Department of Labor if your employer pays men and women differently.
Anti-Age Discrimination Statutes: Again, the key to determining your options lies in the number of workers. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals who are over 40 years old from being treated differently because of their age; the Georgia Age Discrimination Act includes similar provisions. However, the state law applies to all public and private employers, regardless of size. ADEA covers companies with 20 or more employees, state and local workers, and other entities.
Contact Our Georgia Employment Discrimination Attorneys Right Away
As you can see from this summary, it is necessary to navigate a highly complex, potentially interconnected patchwork of federal and state laws when filing an employment discrimination claim. You put your rights as an employee at risk by attempting to work through the process yourself, especially when your employer has access to substantial legal resources. You can trust our team at the Vaughn Law Firm to guide you through the process, so please call our Decatur, GA office at 877.615.9495 or go online to set up a free consultation with an employment discrimination lawyer.