Discriminatory Firing Claims


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How do I bring a discriminatory firing claim in GA?


Discriminatory firing claims, also referred to as wrongful termination claims, cannot be brought under state law in GA. Therefore, it is necessary to bring a discriminatory firing claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.



What constitutes wrongful termination on the basis of gender?


Wrongful termination on the basis of gender occurs when an employer fires a female employee because she is a woman. Section 703(a)(1) of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act reads, "It shall be an unlawful employment practice...to discharge any individual...because of such individual's...sex..."



How do I prove I was fired because I am a woman?


There is a three step test to infer intentional discrimination under Title VII.

The first step is for the employee to show the following factors in order to advance the claim of discrimination:(1) You are a member of a protected class (i.e. women);
(2) You were qualified for your job and performed at a satisfactory level; and
(3) You were fired and replaced by a man with equal or lesser qualifications.

If these factors are met, the second step in this test is for the employer to provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for firing you. If your employer provides a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for discharge, you then have a chance to show that the employer's excuses are untrue. Once you have countered the employer's allegedly legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons, you must go on to persuade the judge or jury that the employer intentionally discriminated against you.



How do I prove that I belong to a protected group?


Women are a protected class under Title VII.



How do I prove that I was qualified for the job and performed at an acceptable level?


The employer's performance records and any prior disciplinary history may be considered to establish whether you were qualified or not. You should keep copies of your prior evaluations and reports, so as to help establish a solid employment history. The best-case scenario would be one where records show a positive history of work performance. The court will also look to whether you had the background and skills necessary to carry out the position and whether you applied those skills in a satisfactory manner. It is important to keep in mind that even if you are able to produce evidence that you were qualified for the job, there are other factors that may hurt your case.



What if I wasn't discharged, but resigned or quit my job instead?


If you resigned or quit your job because of sexual harassment or discrimination that violated Title VII, it is considered "constructive discharge." If you have quit your job without satisfying the requirements, the cause of action for constructive discharge will not be met.



What is constructive discharge and how do I prove it?


Courts have recognized a claim for what is referred to as constructive discharge. Constructive discharge occurs when an employee involuntarily resigns in order to escape intolerable and illegal conduct by her employer, which she is subject to because of her sex. The intolerable and illegal employment requirements must be the sole reason you resigned.



What are examples of legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for discharge?


As mentioned, once you have shown that you were qualified for the job and performed at an acceptable level, your employer will then provide a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for discharge. Examples of legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for discharge include whether you were qualified and were fired for reasons unrelated to your experience (such as having an affair with your supervisor), disobedience, or difficulty working with supervisors.


Furthermore, if your replacement is female, your employer has effectively negated your wrongful discharge suit, unless you can prove the claim under a different protected class. Finally, the employer may provide general statistics proving they have fired more men than women in the last year to counter any claims of discriminatory policies.



Does it matter when the discrimination occurred?


For all claims under Title VII, you must file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission within 180 days of the date of the last incident of discrimination. Georgia does not have a law that will cover a discriminatory claim, and therefore it is not possible to have the time limit extended to 300 days, as is the case with some other states. The case must be brought within 180 days or the chance to bring the case is lost. For more information on filing a claim, please see How to File a Claim.



What options do I have if my employer has fewer than fifteen employees?


Because Georgia does not have a state law under which an employee can bring a discriminatory firing claim, in order to bring a claim of this sort under Title VII, your employer must have 15 or more employees.



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