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November 20, 2013

Fue lesionado en el trabajo? Entonces es posible que aplique la Ley de Compensacion de Trabajadores Lesionados...

1. A quien le aplica la Ley de Compensacion de Trabajadores Lesionados?

• Todos empleados, incluyendo personas indocumentadas, que son lesionados en el trabajo o mientras que esté cumpliendo un requisito de su empleador (incluyendo manejando su vehiculo para cumplir con una orden del empleador).
• Todos empleadores con 3 o más empleados en el Estado de Georgia.
• La ley NO aplica a "independent contractors" y a campesinos; estas personas tendrian que traer una demanda civil

2. Por que existe la Ley de Compensacion de Trabajadores Lesionados?

• Permite que los empleadores eviten una demanda civil, asi limitando lo que tienen que pagar
• Permite que el trabajador reciba compensación por sus gastos medicos y su ingreso perdido mas rapido que una demanda civil

3. Que beneficios existen bajo la Ley de Compensacion de Trabajadores Lesionados?

• Beneficios de Ingreso. El empleador le tiene que pagar una porción de su salario semanal, basado en la gravedad de su lesion.
o Si no puede trabajar despues de su lesion, el empleador le tiene que pagar 2/3 de su salario semanal, con un maximo de $500/semana, por un maximo de 400 semanas
o Si puede trabajar en otro puesto que paga menos, el empleador le tiene que pagar 2/3 de la diferencia entre su salario previo y su salario nuevo, con un maximo de $334/semana, por un maximo de 350 semanas
o Si pierde el uso de una parte de su cuerpo, se calcula basado en el porcentaje de daño
• Beneficios de Gastos Medicos
o El empleador debe pagar todos los gastos medicos relacionado a la lesión que recibio en el trabajo
o Si el empleador ha publicado una lista de doctores para cubrir lesiones del trabajo, tiene que buscar tratamiento de uno de esos doctores, los cuales pueden referir a especialistas si es necesario
o Si va a cambiar de doctor mas de una vez, le tiene que avisar al empleador

4. Si recibo una lesion en el trabajo, que debo hacer?

• Lo primero que debe hacer es avisarle a su empleador que ha sufrido una lesión. El empleador esta obligado a empezar a pagar sus beneficios a los 21 dias de ser notificado de la lesión. Si el empleador no piensa que fue lesionado en el trabajo, tiene solo 60 dias más para controvertir su reclamo de beneficios.
• Debe de contratar a un abogado para manejar su caso de compensación de trabajador lesionado, para asegurar que su empleador este pagando todo lo que le debe bajo la ley y que este pagando a tiempo. Si su empleador no tiene seguro para cubrir sus beneficios, el empleador tendria que pagar sus beneficios personalmente.
• Debe de asistir a todas sus citas medicas y seguir el tratamiento al pie de la letra, para que el empleador no pueda argumentar que usted esta contribuyendo a su propia lesión por no cooperar con el tratamiento.

Si tiene preguntas o desea representación legal para su caso de compensación, estariamos felices de asesorarle y luchar por Usted. Puede llamar a nuestra oficina en Rome al (706) 235-7575. Estamos ubicados en 1900 Turner McCall Blvd SW, Rome, GA 30161.

Tambien puede llamar a nuestra oficina en Atlanta al (404) 577-8888. Estamos ubicados en 44 Broad St., Suite 200, Atlanta, GA 30303, cerca de la estación de Five Points.

January 24, 2013

Georgia Staffing Agency Job Turns Nasty For Employment Hopefuls: How to Spot Job-Duping Before It's Too Late

Fraud & Deceit in Georgia: Employment Hopefuls Lured From Georgia By "Job," Get Stranded In Missouri

WSB-TV and The Associated Press reported yesterday that dozens of workers had been scammed by a Georgia staffing agency through a Craigslist post promising two-year construction job positions in locations across the country. According to their stories, a new Marietta-based employment company called Everything Staffing assembled a group of prospective workers for subcontractor Black Sparta LLC on construction sites outside of Georgia. Black Sparta agreed to provide food, gas and lodging for all employees but when the workers started showing up for a job in Missouri, they were told they were no longer needed and forced to foot the bill. As a result, dozens of Georgians are stranded without hope and without the job they were promised; some do not have the means to make it back home to Georgia.

Everything Staffing intends to file a lawsuit against Black Sparta, but that won't ease the immediate pain felt by these adventurous job seekers duped by what appeared to be a promising opportunity but turned out to be a fraud stranding these people in an unfamiliar city.

Make Sure You Have a Valid Employment Contract

There are ways to protect yourself against job-duping if you find yourself in a similar situation whether you are a Georgia job-seeker looking for a construction job or a Georgia business or contractor looking for a sub-contractor. First, check to see whether the employer or business or other authorized person has promised you something in exchange for your performance at a job site. If the promise purports to be an employment agreement for work on a project that will take more than one year to complete performance, i.e., a 2-year construction contract, then the Georgia Statute of Frauds will apply to that promise. Georgia's Statute of Frauds requires that certain contracts be in writing and signed by the party to be charged in order to be enforceable. Specifically, O.C.G.A.§ 13-5-30 says that contracts that cannot be performed within one year at the time they are made must be in writing and signed by the party to be charged or his agent in order for you to bind them to the promise.

If you are a Georgia business or Georgia contractor worried about job-duping by a sub-contractor, agent or other harmful business relation, then you can, with the help of an experienced Georgia contract lawyer, come up with a standardized business contract to address your business needs and withstand new challenges to Georgia business practices. Have your business contracts reviewed by your lawyer to incorporate new terms reflecting important changes in the law, recent court decisions, and changes in Georgia business practices.

Fraud and Deceit in Georgia

Job-duping can affect both job-seekers and businesses in Georgia and its practice could amount to actionable fraud and deceit under Georgia law. Stay tuned to find out about pursuing these claims or contact an experienced Georgia contract lawyer at Betts & Associates about your matter.

October 24, 2012

What is the Lilly Ledbetter Act and How Does This Law Affect Me?

Much of the 2012 Presidential Election has been focused on women's issues. In particular both candidates alluded to the Lilly Ledbetter Act during the second Presidential debate at Hofstra University. But what are the terms and conditions of the Lily Ledbetter Act? And what sort of rights and protections does it give women in the workplace?

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2009. The Act amends Title VII of Civil Rights Act of 1964 to "clarify that a discriminatory compensation decision or practice that is unlawful under such Acts occurs each time compensation is paid pursuant to the discriminatory compensation decision or other practice." In other words, any employee shall not be time barred from filing a law suit around unlawful discrimination as long as they file that suit within 180 days of the last paycheck where they believe such discrimination has, and continues, to occur.

This piece of legislation stemmed from the 2007 Supreme Court case, Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. The plaintiff, Lilly Ledbetter, had worked for many years in Alabama as a production supervisor at a Goodyear tire plant and was paid less than her male counterparts who had identical job titles and responsibilities. Ledbetter sued Goodyear when she was about to retire, alleging that the company had based this pay disparity on gender discrimination.

The Supreme Court reviewed this case and ruled in a 5-4 majority decision (written by Justice Samuel Alito) that Ledbetter was time barred from filing a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because she has not done so within 180 days of first experiencing the effects of the alleged discrimination. In the minority decision, however, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg set forth an interpretation of the law that would require any time limits to file a complaint should be reset upon receipt of each paycheck.

The Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision was far reaching in its scope and sparked a national controversy since the new restrictions not only affected Title VII claims, but also claims and lawsuits pertaining to the Age Discrimination and Employment Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act (Title IX), etc. By requiring such a short timeline to file a complaint, employers were given much more flexibility to argue that most claims were filed too late and thus illegitimate.

Democrats in Congress drafted a bill to amend the Supreme Court's Ledbetter decision very shortly after the ruling. And the new law, requiring that the 180 day statute of limitations be reset with each paycheck, has been in effect since 2009 but can be retroactively applied back to May 28, 2007.

In summary, the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is designed to protect workers from employment discrimination practices. Moreover, it enables individuals who believe they have been victims worksite discrimination a greater amount of time to seek justice.

If you believe you have been adversely affected by employment discrimination you should seek help from either a government enforcement agency like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or by contacting an attorney who specializes in employment law in order to determine if you have a legitimate legal claim.


October 18, 2012

Have You Been Misclassified as an Independent Contractor or Exempt Employee?

In recent years the federal government and many states have begun to crack down on business owners who misclassify their workers as "exempt employees" and/or "independent contractors." Such misclassifications are illegal and an injustice to workers, particularly low-wage and immigrant workers, as it denies them basic rights afforded by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

One of principal benefits of the FLSA is that it requires employers to pay non-exempt employees at least the federal minimum wage and paid overtime (one and a half times your regular hourly rate of pay) for all hours worked in excess of forty (40) in a week.

When business owners misclassify their employees as being "exempt" then they can require them to work much longer hours for way less money since they do not have to pay overtime. Moreover, if they classify their workers as "independent contractors" they not only save money on overtime but also on contributions they would normally have to make to Social Security, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance (i.e., the payroll or withholding tax).

Companies that don't play by the rules also unfairly place their business competitors at a financial disadvantage since they are shelling out less to their workforce, not paying their fair share of taxes, and not abiding by terms of the FLSA.

How do I determine if I am an Exempt Employee?

To be considered an "exempt employee" you must meet two basic tests, the salary test and duties test.

Salary Test: An employee must be paid a salary (usually weekly or monthly), which he or she receives regardless of the number of hours worked. This means that the employee must be paid a salary for the entire week if he or she performs any services during the week and may not be docked for short term absences.

Duties Test: There are three so-called "white collar" exemptions that can be applied: executive, administrative, and professional. However, the ultimate basis for determining whether each of these duties triggers an exemption is whether or not the employee exercises "discretion and independent judgment" on the job. Employees who perform job tasks under strict supervision and work rules (such as clocking in and clocking out) are not typically considered exempt.

How do I determine if I am an Independent Contractor?
A company has to meet three essential standards in order to classify an individual as an "independent contractor" or someone who is self-employed and working under a 1099 tax form:

1.) The worker must be free from direction and control of the employer in the performance of the work;

2.) The worker's services must be performed either outside the usual course of an employer's business or outside of all the employer's place of business;

3.) The employee must be customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business of the same nature as the service being provided.

Misclassification of employees is a problem that exists in lots of industries, but it is especially common in construction, hotels, manufacturing, arts and entertainment, food and beverage service, and retail establishments.

If you believe you have been misclassified as an "exempt employee" or an "independent contractor" then you should seek advice from an attorney at Betts & Associates who will discuss with you over the phone or in person whether you have been cheated out of your rightful pay by your current or a former employer.

Anyone can seek legal counsel from Betts & Associates regardless of where you live. You may be entitled to receive a sizeable amount of back pay as a result of your inquiry.

September 19, 2012

Employers Demanding Employees to Undergo Psychiatric Counseling Violates Federal Discrimination Laws

The Americans With Disabilities Act (the "ADA") and the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act ("ADAAA") give protections for certain "qualified individuals" and ensures that they do not suffer job discrimination because of results of a disability or perceived disability.
The ADA also prohibits disability harassment and retaliation against you for complaining about disability discrimination or for participating in someone else's disability discrimination case.
However, not all injuries, illnesses or even medically defined disabilities are covered by the ADA and the ADAAA. The ADA projects a specific class of individuals--qualified individuals with a disability. A qualified individual with a disability is an individual with any medical, physiological, or psychiatric condition that substantially limits a major life activity. If you have questions about whether you are covered by the ADA/ADAAA it's a good idea to meet with an attorney at Betts & Associates to discuss your matter.
The ADA/ADAAA gives protections, including prohibiting employers from requiring employees undergo medical exams to determine "whether such employee is an individual with a disability or as to the nature or severity of the disability, unless such examination or inquiry is shown to be job-related and consistent with business necessity."
The court turns to the EEOC for guidance, which defines "medical examination" as a "procedure or test that seeks information about an individual's physical or mental impairments or health" and provides seven factors for assessing whether a test amounts to a "medical examination." Those factors include whether the test is administered by a health care professional, is interpreted by such a professional, is aimed to reveal a physical or mental health impairment, is invasive, measures an employee's performance of a task or physiological responses to such performance, is typically given in a medical setting, or involves medical equipment.
A single factor "may be enough" to find that a test is medical.
Based on an analysis looking at all of these factors, the court found that it was possible a jury could determine the agency violated Kroll's rights.
For more information about the ADA/ADAAA or if you feel you may have been discriminated against based on a disability, please contact the top Georgia disability attorneys at Betts & Associates for an immediate consultation.

September 12, 2012

Can Men File Sexual Harrassment Lawsuits in Georgia Too?

Today the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that

"A former Chattahoochee Hills police lieutenant has filed a federal lawsuit against the...city, saying he was sexually harassed by the former city manager and then unfairly fired by the former police chief. The suit by James Melton accuses former City Manager Carol Wolfe of making repeated and unprovoked sexual advances toward him when he worked under her supervision.Melton also contends former Police Chief Damon Jones terminated him in September 2010 for refusing to lie in another police agency's investigation of Jones in an unrelated case....

According to the suit, between December 2009 and September 2010, Wolfe approached Melton sexually in both professional and out-of-work settings and at one point invited him to stay with her in a room she had rented at Serenbe Farm House.
Melton repeatedly rebuffed Wolfe's advances, however, acknowledging her position as Jones' supervisor, and therefore Melton's superior. "It was inappropriate because that was my boss, and that would've been crossing the line," Melton told Channel 2 Action News."


The outcome of this case is months, if not years, away, but no one should be the victim of unwanted sexual attention, men or women.

Typically women are thought to be the ones suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace. And it is true that the vast majority of sexual harassment lawsuits are brought my women. But the laws protecting people from sexual harassment in the workplace are not gender specific.

Although numbers of actual filings of sexual harassment files are going down (possibly a sign of a better educated, more diverse workplace throughout the United States) the percentage of those filings by men has gone up. In 2011, 16.3% of all EEOC cases were filed by men.

As long as the following guidelines are true in a particular case then it can be deemed Sexual Harassment:

  • It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person's sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
  • Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person's sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
  • Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
  • Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
  • The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
  • http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.cfm

If you think you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may wish to contact Betts and Associates.

September 2, 2012

Fired Because of Facebook? Under What Conditions Can You Sue Successfully

Recently a federal law suit was filled by Orlando "O.J." Concepcion. He was fired from his job with the Sandy Springs Police Office because of posts that he made on his personal Facebook page. He alleges that his termination was wrongful because he has a right to make private statements as a private citizen. Moreover, he claims that the termination was racially motivated because other officers were posting similar material and received no punishment or consequence. Mr. Concepcion is Hispanic and his fellow officers are White.

Termination for posts on Facebook is in the news a lot, but it is new territory for the courts. In the age of instant computer searches and the ability to capture communication with screen shots, employers are able to learn and document a lot about your out of work behavior. Whether this information is legal as grounds for termination is something that courts are still trying to address.

The ACLU believes that it should all be illegal. Debbie Seagraves, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, has stated "You have a right to be bawdy and raucous in your private space. You have a right, but I'm going to be watching, and I don't like what you've posted, and I'm going to use that in employment decisions' -- that's (a) pretty clear (violation)."

However, this viewpoint is certainly not the legal reality. In Georgia and elsewhere in the country, employees are typically "at will" which means that they can be fired for any reason at all, as long as that reason is not discriminatory. A Texas law firm states it this way: "Many employees think that they are protected by "freedom of speech" found in the First Amendment to the Constitution. This may be true if your employer is a government agency, however, the first amendment does not otherwise apply to non-government employers. If you work for a big corporation or a small company, they CAN fire you if you criticize them on Facebook or elsewhere. The reason for this is that most states have "employment at will" which allows an employer to fire employees at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. Facebook postings are NOT protected speech under the First Amendment when it concerns a job with a non-government employer."

But there are some significant exceptions to at will employment and the right of employers to fire for Facebook or other social media posts.

  • If you were discussing union activity or organizing on your Facebook page, your employer cannot fire you for that. Your right to unionize is protected by the Constitution, as well as the the National Labor Relations Act (also known as the NLRA or the "Wagner Act", which gives private sector workers the right to choose whether they wish to be represented by a union.)
  • If you were complaining to other coworkers about work conditions and other matters that are specifically related to your workplace treatment those discussion cannot be grounds for termination because they are considered "concerted activity." Non-unionized workers are protected by this law, as well as unionized workers.
  • If you were talking about things that relate to your race, sex, disability, religion or ethnicity.
  • If you work for the government,you have greater protection of your first amendment rights than if you work for a private employer, but there are small exceptions to that too.

In the case of Mr. Concepcion, he was working for the government at the time of his employment and he also alleges that his firing was arbitrary and targeted because of his race. Those are two exception to the general right of employment at will and are the bases of his lawsuit. If you have been terminated and believe that it was unlawful, the lawyers at Betts and Associates would be willing to talk to you. Please contact the office for an appointment.

August 30, 2012

Georgia Employees, Stop Working Overtime for Nothing. You May Have a Claim Against your Employer.

Record numbers of overtime complaints - filed by workers based on violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) - are at an all time high. According to the FLSA, non-exempt workers are entitled to overtime wages in the amount of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for each hour worked over 40 hours in any one workweek. The problem is many workers who are entitled to overtime compensation are denied all of the pay they are entitled to - often due to their employer misclassifying them, either intentionally or mistakenly.
A common occurrence is misclassification when determining who is exempt and who non-exempt. It is a close call almost always. In many people's case, being entitled to overtime pay can make a huge difference in his or her weekly take home pay. If there is a possibility that you could you may be entitled to additional compensation for overtime pay, it is absolutely necessary to consult with a top Georgia overtime pay attorney like Betts & Associates. The recent overtime pay article states that the number of FLSA cases has tripled, with over 7000 overtime violation lawsuits filed in 2011. In 2012 over 7064 cases have already been filed, making this year record breaking for certain. Confusion concerning overtime laws is why there are so many lawsuits and a struggling economy has more employers cutting corners than ever. Overtime violations hit low-wage workers even harder. The National Employment Law Project created a study stating, 77% of low-wage workers who reported working more than 40 hours in a week did not receive the overtime compensation they were entitled to. For workers who put in more than 10 hours a day, 93% of workers reported not receiving the required overtime pay. Overtime violations were not the only FLSA law broken, 21% of workers reported making less than the required minimum wage. According to the study, the average low pay employee loses out on $58 per week and $3,000 per year due to wage violations by employers. The federal government fortunately has started cracking down on employer wage violations. The Department of Labor is focusing on industries like: restaurants, hospitality, janitorial, health care and day care -- where wage theft is believed to be run ramped. Over $224 million has been collected by the Department of Labor in the last fiscal year in back wages for more than 275,000 workers.
If you believe you have not received all the compensation you are entitled to, it's important to contact an experienced Atlanta overtime compensation lawyer at Betts & Associates immediately.

August 26, 2012

Today Betts & Associates Opens The Rome Georgia Office

We are proud to announce that today will be day one of our new office in Rome Georgia. The address is 1900 Turner McCall Blvd SW Rome, GA 30161-3329. You can contact us at (706) 235-7575. Our new office manager Ms. Izzy Reyes will be glad to schedule an appointment to speak with an attorney over the phone or in person. Ms. Reyes is bilingual and is fully capable of handling initial correspondence in both English and Spanish. Please feel free to fax us your information using fax #: (706) 235-7590. The hours of operation for the Rome location will be Monday through Saturday from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M.. We look forward to making your acquaintance and as always "Justice Matters".
August 24, 2012

Unpaid Internships v. Employee? What are the requirements in Georgia?


For many recent college graduates in Georgia, the path after college no longer starts with a job. Instead many find they must take unpaid internships in order to find work in their fields. Many unpaid internship programs are failing to conform to federal requirements and participants in those programs may be entitled to back wages and damages.

You might wonder why there are requirements at all. Is this an example of the federal government overreaching? Can't people choose to volunteer to do work? Isn't this a violation of freedom to contract? To answer these questions, we have to think historically. Before 1936 there was no federal minimum wage in the United States. This meant that people were often working for very small amounts without any assurance that the amount they were originally hired for would not be later cut. The lowest paid workers were the most vulnerable to this. When work was scarce, it resulted in a race to the bottom, with people under bidding each other, far below the amount needed to earn a decent living. President Roosevelt stated that a minimum wage would create a "minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being."

Overtime the federal minimum wage has risen to its current rate of $7.25. This is the minimum amount of money that the federal government requires employers to pay workers. Even if a worker were to say to a prospective employer "I need this job so badly that I will work for you for $7.00 per hour or even less" the employer is legally barred from contracting around the minimum hourly wage.

So, how does this apply to internships, you may ask. Business, both for-profit and not-for-profit, are routinely advertising unpaid internships or low-stipended internships as a way to work for those companies. Without any other low-level entry positions, young workers feel compelled to take these jobs. But, for an internship to qualify to be unpaid, the internship must be educational in nature. The Department of Labor has issued Fact Sheet #71: Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act to help bring clarity to what work qualifies for these unpaid internships.

The Fact Sheet sets out six factors for determining intern-status. To qualify to be an unpaid intern, all of the following must be true:

  1. The internship is similar to vocational training.
  2. The internship is designed to benefit and train the intern for work in the business's field.
  3. The intern is not hired instead of paid employees and receives supervision by paid employees.
  4. The employer does not benefit from the labor of the intern and it might sometimes make the business less profitable or less efficient
  5. The intern is not in training for a guaranteed job later; and
  6. The employer and the intern know that the work is unpaid and for a limited duration.

If any of the above is not true, such as the intern is not being supervised or the business is having unpaid interns do secretarial work instead of hiring a secretary, then the worker should be considered an employee and is entitled to receive at least the federal minimum wage for his or her work. If you believe your unpaid internship fails to conform to these requirements, you may have a legal action. Betts and Associates would be able to advise you of your legal rights in Georgia.

Remember, you have a right to a fair wage. And, your employer also has a legal requirement to pay you for employment.