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Georgia Employment Law

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Author Thomas J. Mew IV, Author Brian Sutherland


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Georgia Employment Law addresses the state and federal law relevant to the practice of employment law in Georgia. The intent is to provide the practitioner with all the essential background information for practicing employment law in Georgia, the majority of which is federal legislation and case law based, and fleshing out the same with explanation of Georgia’s parallel provisions and analysis of the applications peculiar to Georgia. The book is a valuable reference guide for those practicing employment law, as well as general practitioners who are presented with employment law issues in their practice.

Coverage includes these topics: wage and hour laws, unemployment insurance benefits and claims, workers compensation, employment discrimination and retaliation, workplace torts, federal and state leave laws, and workplace health, safety and privacy.
 


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  • Availability: Available
  • Brand: Daily Report (GA)
  • Product Type: Books
  • Edition: 1
  • Page Count: 352
  • ISBN: 978-1-62881-374-6
  • Pub#/SKU#: GEMPL
  • Pub Date: 03/28/2019

Author Image
  • Thomas J. Mew IV

Thomas J. Mew IV isan attorney with Buckley Beal, LLP in Atlanta. His practice covers a broadrange of employment law matters including both individual and class actionwage-and-hour, discrimination, and harassment litigation, as well as inarbitration and mediation. He is also an advisor on employment contracts,releases, and restrictive covenant issues. Tom is a magna cum laude graduate ofthe University of Georgia, School of Law. Following law school, Tom clerked forJudge Herschel Franks of the Tennessee Court of Appeals and for the HonorableHarold L. Murphy of the United States District Court for the Northern Districtof Georgia. Before joining Buckley Beal, Tom practiced law for many years atRogers & Hardin LLP. Tom is the co-author of  Georgia Motion Practice (ALM 2017), a guide tocivil motion practice in Georgia’s trial and appellate courts. He is also aContributing Author to Employee Benefits Law (3d. Ed.) (Bloomberg BNA 2012).



Author Image
  • Brian Sutherland

Brian J. Sutherland is a partner with Buckley Beal, LLP, anAtlanta law firm which concentrates on the representation of plaintiffs inemployment litigation and business disputes. Brian’s practice focuses onemployment discrimination and retaliation, including whistleblower retaliation,as well as other federal civil rights matters in the areas of voting rights andconstitutional litigation. Brian graduated summa cum laude from the Seattle UniversitySchool of Law in 2006. Brian was a Staff Attorney for the American CivilLiberties Union Southern Regional Office and Voting Rights Project beforeserving as a Trial Attorney for the United States Equal Employment OpportunityCommission. Brian joined Buckley Beal in 2012.


Chapter 1: The Employment Relationship......................................................................................1

1-1 THE EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL DOCTRINE......................................................................................1

1-1:1 Statutory Codification: O.C.G.A. § 34-7-1......................................................................................1

1-1:2 Presumption of At-Will Employment......................................................................................2

1-1:2.1 Effect of Wage Term or Period......................................................................................2

1-1:2.2 Public Employees......................................................................................3

1-1:3 Typically No Cause of Action for Wrongful Termination......................................................................................3

1-1:4 Public Policy Exceptions Limited......................................................................................4

1-1:5 Promissory Estoppel and Fraud Claims ......................................................................................4

1-1:6 Employee vs. Independent Contractor......................................................................................5

1-1:7 Effect of Federal and State Antidiscrimination Laws......................................................................................5

1-2 CONTRACTS......................................................................................6

1-2:1 Statute of Frauds......................................................................................6

1-2:2 Employee Handbooks and Manuals......................................................................................6

1-2:3 Employment Contracts......................................................................................8

1-3 LABOR RELATIONS......................................................................................8

1-4 ARBITRATION PROVISIONS IN THE EMPLOYMENT CONTEXT......................................................................................9

1-4:1 Coverage Under Georgia Arbitration Code vs. United States Arbitration Act................................................................................9

1-4:2 Georgia Arbitration Code......................................................................................10

1-4:2.1 Statutory Exclusions......................................................................................10

1-4:2.2 Compelling Arbitration......................................................................................10

1-4:2.3 Court Jurisdiction Over Applications for Attachment and Preliminary Relief.......................................................................11

1-4:2.4 Subpoenas......................................................................................11

1-4:2.5 Appointment of Arbitrators......................................................................................11

1-4:2.6 Arbitration Procedure......................................................................................11

1-4:2.7 Confirmation or Vacation of Award ......................................................................................13

1-5 RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS IN EMPLOYMENT AGREEMENTS......................................................................................13

1-5:1 Common Law or Statute......................................................................................13

1-5:2 Public Policy Considerations......................................................................................13

1-5:3 Judicial Scrutiny......................................................................................14

1-5:4 Consideration Requirement......................................................................................14

1-5:5 Judicial Modification......................................................................................14

1-5:6 Types of Restrictive Covenants......................................................................................16

1-5:6.1 Non-Compete Covenants......................................................................................16

1-5:6.1a Common Law Requirements......................................................................................16

1-5:6.1b Reasonableness of Restrictions at Common Law......................................................................................17

1-5:6.1c Statutory Requirements......................................................................................18

1-5:6.1d Reasonableness of Restrictions Under Statute......................................................................................20

1-5:6.2 Non-Solicitation Covenants......................................................................................22

1-5:6.2a Common Law Requirements......................................................................................22

1-5:6.2b Statutory Requirements......................................................................................24

1-5:6.3 Non-Disclosure Covenants......................................................................................25

1-5:6.3a Common Law Requirements......................................................................................26

1-5:6.3b Statutory Requirements......................................................................................26

1-5:6.4 Miscellaneous Statutory Provisions......................................................................................27

1-5:6.5 Remedies for Breach ......................................................................................28

1-5:6.6 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................28

1-6 IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP ISSUES......................................................................................29

1-6:1 Duty To Report New Hires and Rehires......................................................................................29

1-7 MASS LAYOFFS AND CLOSINGS—NOTICE REQUIREMENTS......................................................................................29

1-7:1 WARN Act......................................................................................29

1-7:1.1 Form and Delivery of Notice......................................................................................30

1-7:1.2 Covered Employers......................................................................................33

1-7:1.3 Employees......................................................................................33

1-7:1.4 Mass Layoffs and Plant Closings......................................................................................35

1-7:1.5 Exemptions......................................................................................36

1-7:1.6 Exceptions to 60-day Notice Requirement......................................................................................37

1-7:1.7 Remedies for Violations......................................................................................40

1-7:1.8 Good Faith Defense......................................................................................42

1-7:1.9 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................43

1-7:2 Georgia Requirements......................................................................................43


Chapter 2: Wage and Hour Laws......................................................................................45

2-1 GENERAL PROVISIONS REGARDING THE PAYMENT OF WAGES ......................................................................................45

2-1:1 Method of Payment......................................................................................45

2-1:2 Timing of Payment......................................................................................46

2-2 MINIMUM AND OVERTIME WAGES ......................................................................................47

2-2:1 Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938......................................................................................47

2-2:2 Georgia Minimum Wage Law......................................................................................53

2-3 CHILD LABOR......................................................................................57

2-3:1 Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938......................................................................................57

2-3:2 Georgia Child Labor Law......................................................................................58

2-4 FARMWORKERS......................................................................................60

2-4:1 Definitions under the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act..........................................................................61

2-4:2 Certificates of Registration for Farm Labor Contractors......................................................................................63

2-4:3 Protections for Migrant and Seasonal Workers......................................................................................65

2-4:4 Enforcement Provisions......................................................................................67

2-4:4.1 Administrative Enforcement......................................................................................67

2-4:4.2 Judicial Enforcement......................................................................................67

2-4:4.3 Limitations on Private Actions......................................................................................68

2-5 GARNISHMENT......................................................................................70


Chapter 3: Unemployment Insurance Benefits, Claims, and Adjudication......................................................................................73

3-1 THE GEORGIA EMPLOYMENT SECURITY LAW......................................................................................73

3-1:1 Employer Responsibilities Under the Georgia Employment Security Law......................................................................................74

3-1:2 Claims for Unemployment Insurance Benefits......................................................................................79

3-1:3 Hearings, Appeals, and Review of Determinations on Claims for Unemployment Insurance Benefits..................................................83


Chapter 4: Workers’ Compensation ......................................................................................87

4-1 GEORGIA’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ACT......................................................................................87

4-2 EXCLUSIVITY OF REMEDY AND STATUTORY EMPLOYER IMMUNITY......................................................................................88

4-2:1 Temporary Help Contracting Firms and Employee Leasing Companies......................................................................................88

4-2:2 Borrowed Servant Doctrine and Joint Employers......................................................................................89

4-2:3 Claims Brought by Parties Other than the Injured Worker......................................................................................91

4-3 THIRD-PARTY LIABILITY AND SUBROGATION LIENS......................................................................................91

4-4 INSURANCE......................................................................................93

4-5 WORKPLACE POSTINGS......................................................................................93

4-6 EMPLOYEE ELIGIBILITY FOR WORKERS’ COMPENSATION......................................................................................93

4-6:1 Notice Requirement......................................................................................93

4-6:2 Injury “Arising Out of” and “In the Course of Employment”......................................................................................94

4-6:3 Willful Misconduct......................................................................................96

4-6:4 Intoxication......................................................................................97

4-7 AMOUNT OF BENEFITS......................................................................................98

4-7:1 Computation......................................................................................98

4-7:2 Temporary Total Disability......................................................................................99

4-7:3 Permanent Partial Disability......................................................................................99

4-7:4 Special Computation for Hearing Loss and Hernias......................................................................................99

4-7:5 Death......................................................................................99

4-7:6 Occupational Disease......................................................................................101

4-8 MEDICAL BILLS AND EXPENSES......................................................................................102

4-9 SUBSTITUTE JOB......................................................................................103

4-10 CIVIL AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES......................................................................................104

4-10:1 Civil Penalties......................................................................................104

4-10:2 Criminal Penalties......................................................................................105

4-11 WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BOARD......................................................................................106

4-11:1 Procedure......................................................................................106

4-11:1.1 Filing a Claim......................................................................................106

4-11:1.2 Role of the Board......................................................................................107

4-11:1.3 Role of the Administrative Law Judge......................................................................................107

4-11:2 Appeals......................................................................................108

4-12 RETALIATION......................................................................................108


Chapter 5: Employment Discrimination and Retaliation......................................................................................109

5-1 INTRODUCTION TO EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION......................................................................................109

5-2 TITLE VII OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964......................................................................................110

5-2:1 Purpose of Title VII......................................................................................110

5-2:2 The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission......................................................................................110

5-2:3 Major Provisions of Title VII......................................................................................111

5-2:3.1 Disparate Treatment......................................................................................112

5-2:3.2 Disparate Impact......................................................................................113

5-2:3.3 Retaliation......................................................................................113

5-2:3.4 Failure to Accommodate Religious Practices......................................................................................114

5-2:4 Administrative Enforcement of Title VII......................................................................................115

5-2:5 Judicial Remedies......................................................................................116

5-3 GEORGIA FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES ACT OF 1978......................................................................................117

5-3:1 Purpose of the Georgia Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978......................................................................................117

5-3:2 Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity......................................................................................118

5-3:3 Provisions of the GFEPA......................................................................................118

5-3:4 Administrative Enforcement Process......................................................................................119

5-3:5 Relationship of the GFEPA to Title VII......................................................................................120

5-3:6 No Judicial Cause of Action Under the GFEPA......................................................................................121

5-4 DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION......................................................................................123

5-4:1 Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973......................................................................................123

5-4:1.1 Protections for “Qualified Individuals” with “Disabilities”......................................................................................124

5-4:1.2 Prohibited Disability Discrimination under the ADA......................................................................................125

5-4:2 Claims and Remedies for Disability Discrimination under the ADA......................................................................................126

5-4:3 Georgia Equal Employment for Persons with Disabilities Code......................................................................................129

5-4:3.1 Protection for the “Individual with Disabilities” under the Georgia Disabilities Code...........................................................129

5-4:3.2 Prohibitions Under the Georgia Disabilities Code......................................................................................130

5-4:3.3 Claims Under the Employment Disabilities Code......................................................................................131

5-5 EQUAL PAY......................................................................................132

5-5:1 Equal Pay Act of 1963......................................................................................132

5-5:2 Georgia Sex Discrimination in Employment Statute......................................................................................134

5-6 AGE DISCRIMINATION......................................................................................135

5-6:1 Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967......................................................................................136

5-6:2 Georgia Age Discrimination Statute......................................................................................138

5-7 LOCAL LEGISLATION CONCERNING EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION AND RETALIATION.......................................................................138

5-7:1 City of Atlanta Fair Employment Practice Ordinance......................................................................................139

5-7:2 Augusta-Richmond County Local Legislation......................................................................................140

5-8 MISCELLANEOUS ANTI-DISCRIMINATION PROVISIONS......................................................................................140

5-8:1 Employer’s Written Requests for Racial or Ethnic Identity......................................................................................141

5-8:2 Veteran’s Preference Employment Policies......................................................................................141

5-8:3 Criminal History......................................................................................141

5-9 GEORGIA WHISTLEBLOWER ACT......................................................................................142

5-9:1 Purpose of the Act......................................................................................142

5-9:2 Definitions Under the Georgia Whistleblower Act......................................................................................142

5-9:3 Whistleblower Retaliation Claims Under the Georgia Whistleblower Act......................................................................................145

5-9:3.1 Prohibitions Under the Georgia Whistleblower Act......................................................................................145

5-9:3.2 Application of McDonnell Douglas......................................................................................145

5-9:4 Remedies Under the Georgia Whistleblower Act......................................................................................148


Chapter 6: Workplace Torts and Related Issues......................................................................................149

6-1 INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS......................................................................................149

6-1:1 Elements......................................................................................149

6-1:1.1 Intentional Conduct......................................................................................149

6-1:1.2 “Extreme and Outrageous” Conduct......................................................................................150

6-1:1.3 Emotional Distress Must Be “Severe”......................................................................................151

6-1:2 Damages......................................................................................152

6-1:3 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................153

6-2 DEFAMATION......................................................................................153

6-2:1 Slander ......................................................................................153

6-2:2 Libel......................................................................................153

6-2:3 Elements of Defamation......................................................................................154

6-2:3.1 Falsity of Statement......................................................................................154

6-2:3.2 Unprivileged Communication to a Third Party......................................................................................154

6-2:3.3 Fault by the Defendant ......................................................................................155

6-2:3.4 Harm......................................................................................155

6-2:4 Defenses......................................................................................155

6-2:5 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................157

6-3 FALSE IMPRISONMENT......................................................................................157

6-3:1 Defenses ......................................................................................158

6-3:2 Damages......................................................................................159

6-3:3 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................159

6-4 FALSE OR MALICIOUS ARREST......................................................................................159

6-4:1 Process of Law......................................................................................160

6-4:2 Without Probable Cause......................................................................................160

6-4:3 Malice......................................................................................160

6-4:4 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................161

6-5 MALICIOUS PROSECUTION......................................................................................161

6-6 FRAUD......................................................................................161

6-6:1 Statutory Definition......................................................................................161

6-6:2 Fraud in the Employment Context......................................................................................162

6-7 CIVIL CONSPIRACY......................................................................................163

6-8 GENERAL DUTY OF CARE REQUIRED OF EMPLOYER......................................................................................164

6-8:1 Employer’s Liability for Employee’s Torts......................................................................................165

6-8:2 Fellow Servant Rule......................................................................................166

6-8:3 Acts by Independent Contractors......................................................................................166

6-8:4 Negligent Hiring and Retention......................................................................................167

6-9 TORTIOUS INTERFERENCE......................................................................................168

6-9:1 “Without Privilege”......................................................................................168

6-9:2 Malice......................................................................................170

6-9:3 Valid Contract......................................................................................170

6-9:4 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................171

6-10 BREACH OF FIDUCIARY DUTY OR DUTY OF LOYALTY......................................................................................171

6-10:1 Sources of Fiduciary Duty......................................................................................171

6-10:2 Competing vs. Preparing to Compete......................................................................................172

6-10:3 Damages......................................................................................172

6-10:4 Statute of Limitations ......................................................................................172

6-11 MISAPPROPRIATION OF TRADE SECRETS......................................................................................173

6-11:1 Definition of “Trade Secret”......................................................................................173

6-11:2 Effect of the Act on Other Remedies......................................................................................174

6-11:3 Cause of Action for Misappropriation......................................................................................174

6-11:4 Injunctive Relief......................................................................................175

6-11:5 Damages......................................................................................176

6-11:6 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................177

6-12 COMPUTER FRAUD AND ABUSE......................................................................................177

6-12:1 Prohibited Acts......................................................................................177

6-12:2 Damages......................................................................................179

6-12:3 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................179


Chapter 7: State and Federal Leave Laws......................................................................................181

7-1 GEORGIA LEAVE LAWS......................................................................................181

7-1:1 Judicial Proceedings......................................................................................181

7-1:2 Voting......................................................................................182

7-1:3 Military Leave......................................................................................182

7-1:4 Breastfeeding......................................................................................184

7-1:5 Family Leave......................................................................................184

7-2 FEDERAL LEAVE LAWS......................................................................................186

7-2:1 The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993......................................................................................186

7-2:1.1 Covered Employers and Eligible Employees......................................................................................186

7-2:1.2 Leave Requirements and Benefits......................................................................................187

7-2:1.3 Paid vs. Unpaid Leave......................................................................................188

7-2:1.4 Notice and Certification Issues for FMLA Leave......................................................................................188

7-2:1.5 Job Protections for Employees ......................................................................................189

7-2:1.5a Retaliation......................................................................................190

7-2:1.5b Statutorily Protected Conduct......................................................................................191

7-2:1.5c Adverse Employment Action......................................................................................191

7-2:1.5d Causal Connection......................................................................................192

7-2:1.5e Legitimate Nondiscriminatory Reason......................................................................................193

7-2:1-6 Pretext......................................................................................193

7-2:1-7 Interference......................................................................................194

7-2:1.8 Damages......................................................................................194

7-2:1.9 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................195

7-2:2 The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994............................................................................195

7-2:2.1 Rights and Prohibitions Under USERRA......................................................................................196

7-2:2.2 Cause of Action for USERRA Violations......................................................................................197

7-2:2.3 Damages......................................................................................198

7-2:2.4 Statute of Limitations......................................................................................198


Chapter 8: Workplace Health, Safety, and Privacy......................................................................................199

8-1 WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY LAWS......................................................................................199

8-1:1 Hiring Employees......................................................................................200

8-1:2 Furnishing Machinery......................................................................................200

8-1:3 Occupational Health and Safety Act......................................................................................201

8-1:4 Public Employee Hazardous Chemical Protection and Right to Know Act......................................................................................202

8-2 DRUG TESTING......................................................................................203

8-2:1 Georgia Law......................................................................................203

8-2:2 Americans with Disabilities Act......................................................................................204

8-3 EMPLOYEE PRIVACY......................................................................................204

8-3:1 Georgia Wiretap Act......................................................................................204

8-3:2 Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act......................................................................................205

8-3:3 Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988 206

8-3:4 Employer Policies Regarding Vehicle Searches......................................................................................208

8-3:5 Medical Inquiries......................................................................................209

8-3:6 Background Checks......................................................................................211


Appendices......................................................................................213

Table of Cases......................................................................................299

Index......................................................................................317