Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Employment Lawyer Guiding Individuals and Entities in Atlanta

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 21% of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (“LGBT”) individuals surveyed said they had been treated unfairly by an employer. It is an unfortunate reality that there are few legal protections to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the experienced employment law attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert can assist Atlanta workers and companies in determining what rules may apply to their situation and what rights and responsibilities they may have.

Absence of State and Federal Protections

Although some states have enacted statutes prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, Georgia has not yet done so. There is also currently no federal law that specifically forbids this type of conduct. Because of the lack of regulation at those levels, protection against sexual orientation discrimination is a local matter. Many cities, including Atlanta, have enacted municipal prohibitions against such conduct.

Local Laws Offer Some Rights

Atlanta Ordinance Sec. 94-112 makes it an unlawful employment practice for an entity to discriminate against a worker based on a number of attributes. While the language of the ordinance is similar to the clauses prohibiting employment discrimination in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Atlanta ordinance provides protection against unequal treatment based on additional reasons, including sexual orientation and gender identity. Employers cannot discriminate in compensation or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. The ordinance also prohibits job agencies from discriminating against or refusing to refer individuals based on those prohibited reasons. Labor unions are also forbidden from discriminating or attempting to influence an employer to discriminate. No entity may discriminate in admission to training or apprenticeship programs.

A person who has suffered unlawful discrimination under the Atlanta ordinance may prosecute the case in Municipal Court, file a complaint with the director of the mayor’s office of constituent services, or both. If the person files a complaint with the director, the document must be signed and notarized and contain the names and addresses of the complainant and the person or entity complained against. It must also state the particulars of the alleged discriminatory practice. The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the behavior at issue. If the conduct is ongoing, the date of the occurrence is deemed to be any date after it began, including the last day that it occurs.

Within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the Director conducts an initial investigation and reports any findings to the Human Relations Commission, which will then attempt to eliminate any unlawful discrimination through “further investigation, conference, conciliation and/or persuasion.” If the respondent and the Commission agree on conciliation terms, the Commission will serve the complainant with a proposed conciliation agreement. The complainant will then have 15 days to object to the agreement. The Commission may either dismiss the objections or hold a hearing on the objections. If the complainant agrees to a conciliation agreement, his or her rights in the Municipal Court are limited to enforcing the terms of the agreement.

Sec. 94-121 also sets forth the rules for filing a response and the procedure for a hearing on the merits of the complaint. It further outlines the mayor’s options in responding to any findings.

Explore Your Options with an Atlanta Attorney Skilled in Sex Discrimination Matters

Currently, sexual orientation discrimination laws are primarily local, resulting in a variety of protections and remedies. If you are concerned about a potential violation in the Atlanta area or what you must do to comply with the rules, you need a sex discrimination lawyer to help you determine what your options may be. Attorneys at Parks, Chesin & Walbert are experienced in handling a variety of employment matters and are ready to assist you with your issue. Call 404-873-8048 or contact us online.

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