Legal Question in Employment Law in Georgia
My employer recently promoted two employees. It was kept very quiet and the promotions were announced at a meeting. They never gave me or anyone else in the company the opportunity to apply for these positions. I know it is not a requirement as an Employment Law, but to be fair to all employees it would have been in their best interest to post the openings. May I mention the 2 employees are young males in their 20's and 30's. There are 26 employees in the company and of the 26 there are 9 women. There are no women in upper management, although there are women young and old who would qualify. The gender issue has been pointed out to them in the past, but I don't believe they care. In my eyes what they are doing is unfair and unjust. Even though the employee manual states they are a Equal Opportunity Employer, I do not believe they are practicing their policy. Not sure if sharing this information with EEOC would be appropriate or not.
2 Answers from Attorneys
What is "in your eyes" or what you believe in your mind is is "unjust and unfair" not relevant. You have to have actual evidence the decisions were discriminatory based on gender or age rather than just being a better employee (or someone's brother-in-law). If you are upset because you did not get promoted (obviously we don't know that) and just want to complain to someone, you might find it uncomfortable in a small company going forward. The bottom line is often what are your motives and what do you expect or want to happen? Whether or not the discrimination laws apply based on number and service time is another question - there is a reason they don't apply to small businesses. Of course, as always, you can see a lawyer to go over the whole story.
Whether or not you have a claim for sex discrimination will depend upon:
1. Whether you were more qualified for the positions and would have accepted the promotions if offered;
2. Whether you can prove that gender was a motivating factor for your not being considered (and for the position being awarded to men).
The second item is the difficult one. You can prove sex discrimination with direct evidence - e.g. the statement of a decision-maker that "only men can handle those roles." Or you can prove it with a mosaic of statements and incidents that demonstrate sex discrimination by those in charge. It's helpful to have written proof - like email, or recordings of sexist statements, or written statements from witnesses who saw or heard discriminatory statements or conduct.
If you believe that you can make these showings, and you would like to pursue a claim of sex discrimination you must file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC within 180 days of the date of the promotions. Please be mindful that although retaliation against employees who file objectively reasonable charges of discrimination is against the law, that does not guarantee that you will not be retaliated against.
While it is true that not all employers are covered under laws prohibiting sex discrimination, most are. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, protects employees against discrimination by employers with 15 or more employees (for 20 or more weeks in this or last year). The caps on damages, however, are lower for smaller employers.
Filing a charge with the EEOC is a required step in pursuing claims under Title VII. I would recommend retaining an attorney to assist you, although you can file on your own.
You may be able to find an attorney who will agree to represent you through your local bar association attorney directory or referral service, by obtaining the EEOC attorney referral list, or through the attorney directories of employee advocacy bar associations like the National Employment Lawyers Association or its Georgia affiliate.
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