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Atlanta Employment Discrimination Lawyer

Discrimination in the Workplace? Call Buckley Beal LLP

Almost 50 years ago, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This federal law would prohibit employment discrimination in the workplace. The law prohibits discrimination against employees, former employees, and applicants on the basis of their race, sex, national origin, and religion.

Since the passage of Title VII, Congress has passed additional laws to prohibit other forms of discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits disability discrimination. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects individuals over the age of 40 from discrimination.

Although each type of employment discrimination has unique issues, most of Title VII's fundamental principles apply to types of discrimination. If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, consult our Atlanta employment discrimination attorneys at Buckley Beal.


Schedule a case review to discuss the details of your employment case with an Atlanta discrimination attorney.


To Whom Does Title VII Apply?

Discrimination laws apply to the following employers if they employ at least 15 employees:

  • Private employers
  • State and local governments
  • Employment agencies
  • Labor organizations
  • The federal government

Virtually all employees and job applicants are covered. Whatever your immigration status, you may well be covered under the discrimination laws.

Don't hesitate to contact us anytime if you have any questions about whether you are protected under the employment discrimination laws. We'll provide you with a confidential consultation and answer any questions you may have.

What Is Prohibited?

Discrimination laws protect employees from discrimination on their membership in a protected category.

Protected categories under federal law include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Sex
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Sexual orientation

Your company cannot take adverse actions against you based on your membership in one of these protected categories.

Adverse action is a broad term, encompassing actions employer may do to negatively affect your employment, including:

  • Refusal to hire
  • Discharge
  • Suspension or demotion
  • Unequal discipline
  • Poor performance review or references
  • Adverse transfer or shift change
  • Pay reduction
  • Reduction in overtime hours
  • Sexual harassment
  • Encouraging a hostile work environment

These are just a few examples. If your employer has taken a potentially harmful action against you, that is likely an adverse action.

An adverse action also includes retaliation. Retaliation includes any negative action by your employer against you in response to your complaint about discrimination,. It also includes negative actions taken for participating as a witness in someone else's discrimination case.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently expanded the definition of retaliation. This definition now includes conduct by an employer that would deter reasonable people from pursuing their rights. In many cases, if you complain about discrimination but don't have a strong case, you may have a stronger retaliation case. For more information on the law of retaliation, take a look at our retaliation page.

How Much Can be Awarded for a Discrimination Case?

Title VII provides a number of rights and remedies to the victims of employment discrimination. You are entitled to a jury trial on your employment discrimination claims. You are also entitled to a wide range of damages if you are successful in your lawsuit.

The damages that are available are:

  • Reinstatement
  • Front Pay
  • Back Pay
  • Compensatory Damages
  • Punitive Damages
  • Injunctive Relief
  • Attorneys' Fees

More About Remedies Available for Discrimination

Reinstatement

Although not frequently awarded, the court does have the right to order your employer to reinstate you to your job. This includes a full restoration of all pay, benefits, and seniority.

Front pay

Courts are sometimes hesitant to order employers to reinstate their employees. In many case, they award the alternative of front pay damages. Front pay is the total wages and benefits you would have earned with your employer had you not been discharged.

Sometimes, the courts will award as many years of salary as you would have made had you worked to retirement. This does require some strong proof that you would have successfully continued your employment had you not been discharged.

Back Pay

Back pay is the amount the court will award you to repay money lost as a result of an adverse action. The back pay period typically begins from the moment of your discharge and continues to the time of trial. In addition to lost wages, this figure can include the value of your lost benefits. It can also include any bonuses and overtime you might have made had you not been discharged.

The law does require you to mitigate damages by looking for a new job if you can work. Any such interim compensation you make would be offset against your back pay. If, despite your best efforts, you are unable to get a new job, you may not be subject to an offset.

Compensatory Damages

Compensatory damages are amounts awarded to make you whole for any other losses you sustained as a result of discrimination. These include out-of-pocket costs for medical expenses you incurred as a result of loss of company health insurance.

The potentially big damages in this category are pain and suffering, or what is known as emotional distress. If you can prove you sustained serious mental distress as a result of discrimination, you may be entitled to recover damages.

Punitive damages

In certain cases, your employer's conduct may be so heartless or vindictive that the court will award punitive damages. These are intended to punish your employer for its intentional misconduct. These are also meant to deter both your employer and other employers from engaging in such conduct in the future. Even if the court awards only a modest amount of other damages, you still may be entitled to large punitive damages.

Injunctive relief

In many cases, especially employment class action cases, employees often seek to stop a discriminatory practice. The employees will ask the court for an order either halting the practice or ordering certain practices to be started. This can include ordering the company's management to meet certain hiring standards or conduct harassment prevention training.

Attorneys' fees

If you prevail at trial, you are permitted to ask for the attorneys' fees your lawyer incurred in litigating your case. If your lawyer spends time in a hard-fought battle with your employer, your attorneys' fees could be substantial. Sometimes these fees are far greater than your damages award. Recovered damages in a case can be used to pay your contingency fee and let you keep more of your recovery.

There, are, however, some limitations on your right to money damages. Title VII caps the amount of compensatory damages available to you depending on the number of employees employed by your employer:

The damages caps are as follows:

  • For employers with more than 14 and fewer than 101 employees: $50,000 damages cap;
  • For employers with more than 100 and fewer than 201 employees: $100,000 damages cap;
  • For employers with more than 200 and fewer than 501 employees: $200,000 damages cap; and
  • For employers with more than 500 employees: $300,000 damages cap.

These caps do not apply to your back pay or front pay damages. If you have a state law tort claim, whistleblower case, or another employment case, you are not subject to these caps.

How to File a Discrimination Complaint in Georgia

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination, you must file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency that is charged with investigating all claims of employment discrimination.

After you file your charge, the EEOC will send your charge to your employer. Your employer will be required it to respond to your claims. In some cases, the EEOC will bring the parties together to have them mediate their dispute.

If the parties choose not to mediate, the EEOC will complete its investigation of your case. In most cases, the EEOC will give you a right to sue, which allows you to file a federal discrimination lawsuit.

In some cases, if the EEOC makes a finding of discrimination, it will order the parties to conciliate their claim. This often results in a very favorable settlement to you. In any case, throughout the EEOC's proceedings, you are entitled to have your own attorney.

Once the EEOC has completed its investigation and you receive your right to sue letter, you can file your lawsuit. Once the case is filed, you have the right to take extensive discovery from your employer. You also have the right to take depositions of key witnesses. Ultimately, you will have your day in court--your trial.

You May Be Running Out of Time – CalL (404) 471-3725

The federal discrimination laws have very short and very strict time limits. You must file your charge of discrimination no later than 180 days after the last act of discrimination against you. If you miss this deadline by even one day, your claim may be lost or dismissed.

Have any questions about filing a complaint? We would be more than happy to discuss any of these issues with you. One of our experienced Atlanta employment discrimination lawyers can help you understand your rights and represent you in your case.


To start the conversation, you can call us at (404) 471-3725 or email us.