Atlanta Employment Tort Lawyers
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You may have experienced serious mistreatment in the workplace that you know in your heart is somehow "wrong," but it does not fit into any of the discrimination laws--it's not based on your sex, race, age, color, religion, disability or national origin. Are you out of luck? In many cases, you may still have some rights. Georgia state law prohibits certain types of particularly nasty behavior by your employer, supervisors, or even co-employees even if the conduct is not discriminatory. The two principles types of claims in this area are intentional infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference.
Find out more by talking to our Atlanta employment discrimination attorneys.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a claim that protects you from "outrageous conduct" by your employer. What this means is that if your employer's conduct towards you is so horrible that it would "shock the conscience" of the ordinary individual, then you may have a claim against your company. This does not mean, however, that if your boss yells at you a few times, you can run into court and sue your company. The courts are aware that tempers often flare in the workplace, and that employers have the right to engage in disciplinary action, even harsh disciplinary action. But if your employer goes beyond disciplining you, and takes action that appears to have no other purpose than to cause you to suffer severe emotional distress, then you may have a valid claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Because this claim is not frequently litigated, there are not many examples of a successful claim. But there are general patterns of conduct by employers that can support a claim. If your employer knows that you are particularly susceptible about something and exploits that to your detriment, you may have claim.
Actions that may qualify under intentional infliction of emotional distress include:
- Firing you right after you have a death in your family
- Constantly humiliating you when they know you suffer from emotional problems
- Other highly abusive conduct that causes you to suffer severe emotional distress
It's a sad fact of employment law that, if you don't have an employment contract with your employer, you are considered an at-will employee, which means that you have no right to continued employment and can be discharged at any time. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to this rule. One of those exceptions is tortious interference.
In the typical tortious interference case, you may be doing a great job for your company, but someone within the company has decided they don't like you, and they make a decision to sabotage your career in order to get you fired. They may tell lies about you, falsify documents about you, or make unfounded claims against you. If this employee gets you fired, you may have a claim for tortious interference. Although typically this claim is against the individual employee who hurt you, and not the company, if the employee is a member of management, then you may have a strong claim against that individual, and the company may be on the hook for the liability.
Similarly, if you have a written employment contract with the company, and another employee works to get the company to breach the contract and fire you on false pretenses, then you may have a claim for tortious interference.
Employment Tort Case vs. Discrimination Claim
There are several advantages to bringing an employment tort case rather than a discrimination claim. Under the discrimination laws, you only have 180 days to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you miss the deadline, your claim is lost. However, most employment torts have much longer statutes of limitation, sometimes as long as two years.
Also, state law torts do not require you to first file a claim with the EEOC and then go through the sometimes lengthy administrative process. Instead, if you have been the victim of one of these torts, you can go right to court.
Also, unlike the employment discrimination laws, there is no limitation on the amount of damages you can obtain in a tortious interference or intentional infliction of emotional distress case. By contrast, the employment discrimination laws cap your damages based on the size of your employer, and the maximum amount of compensatory and punitive damages you can obtain in a discrimination case is $300,000 (this excludes your actual lost back wages and lost future wages). However, in a state tort law case, there is no such cap on your damages, and you can get whatever your lawyer is able to convince the jury to give you.
Elite Advocacy Backed by Proven Results
To file an effective state law employment tort case, you need an aggressive and creative legal team in order to successfully bring a state law employment tort case. At Buckley Beal, we are experienced Atlanta employment tort attorneys with a strong record of filing employment tort cases, and we have won a number of significant verdicts and settlements for our clients. If you're not sure whether you're the victim of discrimination or a state law tort, call us and we'll let you know if you have a case.
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