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In particular, the name clearing hearing is more informal than the property interest hearing and need only afford the employee a meaningful opportunity to refute the charges against him by argument, witness testimony or other evidence. Moreover, to be meaningful, the name clearing hearing must be conducted publicly Campbell v.

Buckner , F. The city bears no burden of proof at a name clearing hearing and need not justify its decision. The employee is of course free to request these materials from the city—to the extent they exist—via the Open Records Act prior to the hearing.

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While a property interest hearing must be conducted before a hearing officer s authorized to reverse the employment decision in question, a name clearing hearing need only be presided over by a city official s with sufficient standing within the city to bring an appropriate level of dignity to the proceeding. The name clearing hearing must be conducted at a meaningful time; however, it need not be conducted on a pre-deprivation basis Campbell v.

Where this is done, the employee should be notified in advance and in writing that the property interest hearing will also serve as a name clearing hearing Harrison v. Wille , F. Georgia Whistleblower Act Breaking with over two centuries of tradition, the Georgia Whistleblower Act GWA represents the first and only time in its history that the Georgia Legislature has established an employment-related cause of action for damages O.

The GWA applies to all cities that receive state funds, regardless of the amount received or the size or revenue base of the city O. Further, the GWA has been held to operate as a complete waiver of sovereign immunity, meaning that cities are liable for all damages awarded under the GWA in excess of any applicable insurance coverage Colon v. Fulton County , Ga. Clanton , Ga. Even the municipal ante-litem notice statute has been held inapplicable to GWA claims West v.

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City of Albany , Ga. The First Amendment and Freedom of Speech Unlike private sector employers, a city as a governmental entity is subject to the First Amendment, which is often implicated by personnel decisions. Furthermore, not unlike the liberty interests discussed above, all city employees have First Amendment rights, regardless of whether they are employed at-will or possess property interests in their continued employment.


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Board of Regents , F. In resolving such challenges, the court will initially consider whether the employee was acting in his capacity as an employee or as a private citizen when he engaged in the speech or expression in question and will also examine the speech or expression to determine whether it addresses a matter of public concern. Ceballos , U. With regard to the latter, whether speech or expression addresses a matter of public concern turns on its content e. Myers , U. Myers, U. Burke County , F. Chaffin , F. The First Amendment and Freedom of Association Although the types of associations protected by the First Amendment can vary greatly, ranging from membership in a labor union to more intimate associations such as marriage or friendships, the association most commonly at issue when an adverse employment action is challenged on freedom of association grounds is political affiliation i.

Elrod v. Burns , U. Valeo , U. Doral , F.

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An exception exists, however, when the employee holds a high-level, policy-making position or is considered a confidential employee; i. Finkel , U. Kaplan , F. Sharrett , 12 F. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of Title VII is the first of a series of modern federal civil rights laws specifically enacted to regulate all facets of the employment relationship. For purposes of Title VII, harassment—including the creation and maintenance of a hostile work environment—is a form of discrimination if because of one of these protected classifications Meritor Savings Bank v.

Vinson , U. Georgia Regional Hospital , F. Title VII is applicable to private and public sector employers alike; however, nearly every type of claim based on intentional discrimination or harassment that can be asserted pursuant to Title VII can also be asserted pursuant to Section as a violation of the U. Jackson State Univ. Thus, unlike private sector employers, cities are subject to parallel claims for alleged discrimination or harassment under Section Such claims differ from Title VII claims in many critical ways, including that, in addition to the city itself, they may be asserted against individual city officials and employees and that damages awards under Section are not subject to the caps imposed by Congress of similar awards under Title VII Busby v.

City of Orlando , F.

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In view of the foregoing, cities and their officials and employees have an added incentive to prohibit and eradicate unlawful discrimination, including harassment, from the municipal workplace. At a minimum, this requires the adoption and distribution of a policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination and harassment, as well as periodic training to ensure that all officials and employees understand what the policy prohibits.

Furthermore, the city must take steps to ensure that any discrimination or harassment that does occur in the workplace is discovered, which requires the implementation of an effective reporting procedure, encouraging employees to report potential violations, and training supervisors and managers in detecting and investigating potential violations. Finally, where it is determined that unlawful discrimination or harassment has occurred, the city must take prompt remedial action to prevent recurrence and address the needs of the victim.

City of Boca Raton , U. Finally, like all subsequent federal civil rights legislation, Title VII prohibits retaliation against employees who oppose any alleged violations of the statute or who participate in any proceedings under the statute 42 U.

Age Discrimination The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of protects people who are 40 years old or older from discrimination because of age. While the relief available under the two statutes varies greatly, the protection afforded covered individuals under the ADEA is otherwise analogous to Title VII. A critical difference between the ADEA and Title VII is that cities and their officials and employees generally are not subject to parallel age discrimination claims brought pursuant to Section Board of Regents , Fed. The prudent municipal employer nonetheless will incorporate age discrimination and harassment into the policy and training aspects of the aforementioned prevent-detect-remedy policy.

While Georgia law does not provide a cause of action for age discrimination, the legislature has not ignored the subject altogether.


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  • In this regard, state law prohibits any entity from refusing to hire, employ, or license any individual, or to bar or discharge any individual from employment, solely because of age unless the reasonable demands of the position require such a distinction. The statute protects individuals who are from age 40 to age A city may require a medical examination after tendering an offer of employment and before the applicant begins work, and may condition the offer on the results of the examination provided all entering employees in the same job category are subjected to the same requirement.

    Georgia law addresses the rights of disabled employees as well. In this regard, the Supreme Court has held that classifications based on disability rarely trigger scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause, while the majority view is that claims based on alleged violations of the ADA or the federal Rehabilitation Act must be brought under those statutes rather than via Section City of Cleburne v.

    Cleburne Learning Center , U.

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    City of Alpharetta , F. As with the ADEA, however, the prudent municipal employer will include disability discrimination and harassment in the policy and training aspects of its prevent-detect-remedy policy. This protection is expressly for a single garnishment, however, and is not extended to multiple garnishments.

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