Thompson, Crawford & Smiley is excited to announce that Mallory Bennett is now practicing in Georgia along with Tom Thompson, who has been practicing in Georgia since 1991! While Ms. Bennett’s practice in Georgia will focus on employment law, she will also be able to assist with estate planning, uncontested dissolution of marriage, business contracts, probate, and many other areas of the law.

Mr. Thompson and Ms. Bennett have been practicing employment law in both state and federal courts throughout Florida, and they believe that their knowledge and expertise in this field will be invaluable to employers in Georgia. Here are some of the laws and terms which may apply to an employer and which employers should be aware of:

 The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law that protects employees age 40 or older from employment discrimination on the basis of their age. Government entities and private employers with more than 20 employees are required to comply with the ADEA.

 The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against any qualified disabled employee or applicant who could, with or without a reasonable accommodation, perform a job. The ADA also requires an employer to provide accommodation, such as modified work hours or duties or special equipment, if such an accommodation is documented as necessary to help the disabled employee perform his or her job and is not unduly burdensome for the employer to provide.

Employment discrimination is prohibited by federal law, and by similar laws enacted by most states. Discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, gender, age, disability, and religion is illegal under Title VII as is retaliation for exercising one’s rights under these laws. Some states, cities, or counties also include other protected classes of individuals, barring discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and other grounds. Harassment on the basis of membership in one of these protected categories is a form of discrimination. 

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that requires covered employers to provide employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain purposes, such as the birth or adoption of a child, or to take care of the employee’s own or family member’s serious illness. Employers generally are required to reinstate employees who use FMLA time to their original position or an equivalent one. 

Retaliation occurs when an employer takes adverse employment action against an employee for exercising some legal right, such as filing a discrimination claim against the employer. Retaliation is prohibited by state and federal antidiscrimination and other employment laws.

Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination that is barred by federal and state law. Sexual harassment may involve a hostile work environment, where the behavior of one’s co-workers creates an environment so bad that the victim of the harassment cannot carry on their job duties. Some examples of behavior that could create a hostile work environment include offensive language or jokes, inappropriate pictures, unwelcome touching directed at an employee. Sexual harassment also may occur when a supervisor requests sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits, such as a raise or promotion, and threatens the employee with adverse employment action for refusing the favor.

Whistleblower laws prevent employers from retaliating against employees for reporting employer illegal actions to an appropriate state or federal agency. Whistleblower provisions are included in a number of federal statutes as well as state laws. Some states require the employee to have actual knowledge of the employer’s wrongdoing while others only require the employee have a good faith belief the employer has violated the law.

The better the understanding employers have of the state and federal employment laws, the better they can limit the potential for lawsuits and workplace violations. For more information, contact our office to speak to one of our employment law attorneys at 850-386-5777 or reach us using our Contact Form.

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