Georgia Labor Laws and Racial Discrimination


Area of Law: 

Georgia is one of the few states to not have any laws at the state level that deal with racial discrimination in the workplace. However, if you live in the state of Georgia and work for a company that employs more than 15 people, you are automatically protected under the federal Civil Rights Act.  If you feel you have been the victim of workplace racial discrimination, you can file a formal complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in order to get your claim investigated.  If the EEOC approves your claim, you can be given the right to sue your employer and pursue your case in court.


It helps to understand exactly what is meant by racial discrimination in the workplace.  There is no law against people having racist thoughts or even saying racist things.  Where the line is crossed into a violation of the law is when racist thoughts and words are translated into discriminatory policies that favor one race over another or when other work-related decisions are made that indicate partiality to a particular race.  Additionally, if racist thoughts and comments turn into harassment or other aggressive behavior, either verbal or physical, this can be construed as a hostile work environment, which is also a violation of federal law.  All employees, regardless of their skin color, race, or ethnic origin, have the right to a workplace where they feel safe and unthreatened.


Discriminatory policies can include hiring and firing according to race, promoting only certain races, or asking certain people to do particular tasks based on a manager's stereotypes about which races are better at doing specific types of work.  So what do you do if you have been discriminated against in one of the aforementioned ways? 


Many people will try to work things out within the company, perhaps by contacting the company's human resources representative to make a complaint.  Sometimes that's all it takes to get the issue rectified.  However, if you don't feel comfortable talking to HR (for example, if you feel HR is a part of the discrimination problem), or you have talked to HR and nothing satisfactory was done, you can take the next step and seek out legal advice.  A qualified labor law attorney will be able to advise you as to what sort of case you have and what your chances are of getting a court judgment in your favor.


If you do decide to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you'll want to act quickly.  There is a 180-day statute of limitations to file a complaint with the EEOC, but there may be other legal deadlines to which you will need to heed as well.  Your best bet is to file as soon as you possibly can after the discriminatory incident in question occurred.  If the EEOC investigates your complaint and finds sufficient grounds, you will be issued the right to sue, which will allow you to take your employer to court on a racial discrimination charge.