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The HR Specialist: Georgia Employment Law

Sometimes, it seems as if everyone belongs to some protected class, or a combination of classes. Since any disparate treatment for the same rule violation may trigger a discrimination lawsuit, HR should be prepared to show that no employee in any particular classification is singled out for more severe punishment. Given the number of possible combinations, that’s a difficult task …

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You can’t please everyone, so the saying goes, but the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta came close in its ruling on a class-action suit by Home Depot employees under ERISA. The lawsuit alleges that former CEO Robert Nardelli and other directors, including co-founder Ken Langone, mismanaged the employees’ defined contribution plan  …

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Vandiver Elizabeth Glenn, a transgender former legislative editor in the Georgia General Assembly’s Office of Legislative Counsel, filed a discrimination lawsuit alleging she was fired after she told higher-ups she would begin coming to work as a woman …

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Presently pending before Congress are two bills that could dramatically change labor relations across the United States. The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would amend the National Labor Relations Act to establish a new system that would enable employees to form and join labor unions. The Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007 would bolster unionizing efforts among police officers, firefighters and emergency medical workers nationwide …

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The Georgia Department of Agriculture is encouraging employees to skip their morning shaves on casual Fridays to help alleviate drought conditions gripping much of the state …

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Federal officials proposed more than $8.7 million in fines against Imperial Sugar Co., the third-highest fine total in the history of OSHA. The agency fined Imperial Sugar $5 million for violations at its plant near Savannah, where 13 workers were killed in an explosion this spring, and another $3.7 million for violations at its Gramercy, La., plant …

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Perhaps because controlling Internet access to pornographic images isn’t technically difficult, and because word tends to get around pretty quickly if a co-worker is showing porn to co-workers, courts now are clamping down more on employers that don’t do enough to make sure the workplace is not a sexual cesspool …

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The ADA requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabled applicants and employees within a tight set of parameters. But an employer only has to offer reasonable accommodations that allow a disabled employee to perform the essential functions of a job. Employers don’t have to create new jobs or restructure jobs to such an extent that essential functions are dropped …

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Nothing looks worse to a jury than an employer who fires an employee for poor performance after the employee receives stellar performance reviews. That’s why you must make sure supervisors and managers prepare honest evaluations, avoid gushing assessments and stick to objective measures …

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Georgia’s Business Security and Employee Privacy Act (BSEPA) took effect July 1, 2008. The law expands employees’ rights to transport lawfully registered firearms in their vehicles even if they are traveling to work. The law will not turn the workplace into shooting galleries, but it will limit employers’ rights to search employees’ vehicles …

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The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has agreed to pay more than $143,000 to settle sexual harassment complaints by Mary Harris, a GDOT secretary, and Carrie Hart, who staffs the front desk in the commissioner’s office …

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Sometimes a rogue supervisor comes along who bullies or verbally abuses a subordinate. While such conduct may sometimes violate Title VII and other federal laws, it seldom results in additional awards for emotional distress under Georgia law. And that’s good news because losing an emotional distress case can be expensive.

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Zachary Shannon began working for OfficeMax in January 2006. When the company hired him, Shannon signed a standard agreement that he would not photocopy pornographic materials. On Jan. 14, an employee found pornographic photocopies on one of the store’s copiers …

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The cardinal HR rule is that employees who break the same rule should receive similar punishments. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have no flexibility if the circumstances warrant it. You just have to make sure you can justify why you disciplined one employee differently than another …

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Good news: You don’t have to be perfect when disciplining employees. As long as you can show you acted in good faith, you don’t have to worry that a court will second-guess your disciplinary decisions …

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We hear and read that Americans are developing diabetes, heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and other health problems at an alarming rate. But it doesn’t follow that large segments of the workforce are disabled and entitled to ADA accommodations for their ills.

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Tell your hiring managers the good news. They can question an obviously physically challenged applicant’s ability to perform a specific job without risking a successful disability discrimination lawsuit based on regarding the applicant as disabled. The key is to stick to questions related to the exact position the applicant seeks …

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According to a new study, “Diplomas Count 2008,” only 58% of Georgia students graduate from high school on time. The practical consequence for Georgia employers is an entry-level labor pool with poor basic skills. That means someone—most likely employers—will have to pick up the slack …

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Donna Gamble, of Marietta, a former Georgia Tech employee assigned to the Parker H. Petit Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience, pleaded guilty to charging $316,000 of personal items on her Georgia Tech credit card …

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Eric Perteet, of Conyers, was living a lie, and now he’s been arrested on charges of  fraud, after allegedly pretending to be an emergency room doctor at Piedmont Hospital for two months …

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