Yes, you as a worker in the United States have a right to work and be free from unlawful discrimination, even in the state of Georgia. Workers’ rights are governed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While Georgia is a right to work state, this does not mean that the right to work status trumps the worker’s right to work without being subject to unlawful discrimination. Importantly, this right applies to immigrants, who are protected from employment discrimination by laws that are enforced by the EEOC.
The EEOC protects workers from unlawful discrimination and/or harassment based on their race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or physical or mental disability. To be subject to EEOC enforcement, employers must employ 15 or more employees (20 or more for age-based discrimination). There are many examples of unlawful discrimination in the work place that stem from a person’s national origin. For instance, the law prohibits discrimination based on a person associating with people of a national origin such as attending a specific place of worship, or because a worker’s spouse attends such a place of worship.
Another example would be unlawful discrimination based on a worker’s accent. Treating workers differently because they have a foreign accent is legal only if their accent materially interferes with being able to do the job properly. Generally speaking, if a person has a foreign accent, but is able to speak in English and be understood, they cannot be legally discriminated against by their employer. In the same vein, employer rules requiring that employees speak only english in the work place is generally considered unlawful by the EEOC unless the employer can show that it is justified for a compelling business reason.
In addition to the above, the EEOC enforces laws that prohibit retaliation against an employee for filing a charge, protesting or opposing employment discrimination or participating or serving as a witness in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. This applies to workers who are actually performing the job and to recruits during the hiring process.
As to exactly what constitutes unlawful discrimination at a Georgia work site, the facts must be applied to the law to determine whether a claim for discrimination has merit. Each case is different and must stand on its own merits. But, the law has strict guidelines which must be complied with or your right to sue may be lost forever. In some cases, you must file an EEOC claim within 180 of the discrimination. Because of these strict deadlines, one should immediately contact the EEOC or an experienced employment law attorney in Georgia if they suspect that they have been unlawfully discriminated against and may have a valid claim.
For more than 20 years, Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling employment and business litigation for individuals and families in and around the Atlanta, Georgia area, including Alpharetta, Austell, Brookhaven, Chamblee, College Park, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation or if you would just like to consult about your potential case, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.