TERMINATION/SEPARATION OF EMPLOYMENT
In general, private sector employees in Georgia are “at will” employees. That means an employee is hired for an indefinite period and may be terminated “at will” for any reason or no reason, with or without notice, so long as it not for an illegal reason protected by other laws.
Some employees actually have employment contracts for specific periods of time. However, even in some of these contracts, there are provisions that the contract may be terminated “at will.”
Georgia law has very limited exceptions to employment “at will,” for example, an employee cannot be fired for being absent due to jury service or for being subpoenaed as a witness for court proceedings. Employees also have limited rights under Georgia law for disability discrimination.
Recently, employees of state and local governments have been given protection if they “blow the whistle” on fraud, waste, and abuse in or relating to any state programs and operations under the jurisdiction of such public employer. OCGA 45-1-4.
In addition, public school teachers have rights relating to their being terminated, which include being given notice of the reasons for the actions, and the right to a hearing and review by an independent agency if the employee feels he/she should not have been terminated.
There are some other Georgia laws which may protect an employee who is being fired depending on the circumstances. If you have questions you should contact a lawyer, such as Hill & Associates, PC, for specific legal advice.
Employees should remember that in many cases they will be eligible to receive unemployment compensation if they are fired from their jobs. To apply for these benefits, employees should contact their local unemployment office, operated by the Georgia Department of Labor.
Employees working in Georgia also have rights under Federal laws, which laws protect employees from discrimination on the basis of such factors as sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, age, military service, use of employee or retirement benefits and taking time off as a result of either one’s own or a family members serious health condition and/or as a result of pregnancy or the adoption of a child. These laws do not apply to all employers and there are many exceptions and exemptions, which are well beyond the scope of this document. For more specific information you should contact either this law firm, another employment law firm or the appropriate government agency.
Remember that you have a limited time to take action if you feel your rights have been violated. Thus, you should not delay in seeking legal advice.
Below is a sample of laws which give employees job protection.
- Civil Rights Act of 1964 (15 employees)
- Age Discrimination in Employment Act (20 employees)
- Americans with Disabilities Act (15 employees)
- Family and Medical Leave Act (50 employees)
- Anti-retaliation provisions - Fair Labor Standards Act
- Employee Polygraph Protection Act
- Employee Retirement Income and Security Act
- Consumer Credit Protection Act
- Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
- Juror Protection Act
- Other Civil Rights Acts – 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981, 1983 and 1985
- Immigration and Naturalization Act
- Bankruptcy Act
- False Claims Act
- State and federal laws protecting jurors/witnesses in court & certain whistleblowers.
- State laws pertaining to interference with contract and defamation
- State laws providing for unemployment compensation
The pages that follow provide additional information on the major laws which protect employees:
Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination
Information About Filing a Charge With the EEOC
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
Ethnic, National Origin or Religious Discrimination
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) (minimum wage, overtime)
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
Worker’s Compensation (on the job injuries)
For more information about your rights, please visit http://www.workplacefairness.org/your-rights