Georgia Employment, Education, Injury and Wrongful Death Lawyers

Williams Oinonen LLC helps protect the rights of our clients who have been injured or harmed due to a wrong or injustice. We specialize in employment law, education, business disputes, injury & wrongful death. We fight to protect our clients' best interests and help them obtain the justice they deserve. Williams Oinonen LLC cares about each of our clients. The respect and aggressive advocacy we provide reflects the commitment we bring to winning their case.

October 7, 2014

Good Georgia Education Lawyer Sues DeKalb County Schools For Breach of Contract: The Attack on Teachers And Public Education Part Two

Georgia Education Lawyer Julie Oinonen is representing DeKalb County teachers and Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) members in a suit against DeKalb County School District. The lawsuit alleges strong-arm bully tactics by the school district. See the Courthouse News article on it here.

Good Georgia Lawyer contends that this issue is part of the ongoing war on teachers and public education that is driving educators out of the profession and further destroying teacher morale. Each year, educators move to different parts of Georgia transferring to other school districts for any number of reasons such as professional career opportunities, financial, health, or family reasons. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit had to move due to very important family needs. They notified their principals and gave the earliest possible notice. Then they helped find new hires to replace their position, thus causing absolutely no financial loss to the School District.

The District bullied the teachers by threatening their teaching certification which all teachers need to keep in good standing in order to teach and maintain gainful employment to provide for their families. The District claimed that it was a sanctionable action by the PSC (the Professional Standards Commission, the regulatory body for teacher certification.) The trouble is that wasn't true and the District knew it. Paul Shaw, Director of the PSC had already advised them that for teachers to resign prior to June 1st would not be considered a sanctionable violation of the code of ethics.

DeKalb County School District is one of the few districts in Georgia that has also started to include something called a "liquidated damages provision" that penalizes teachers if they resign their contract. This is a bad thing that is about to spread like wildfire if Courts don't put a stop to it. It makes sense that Districts wish to prevent teachers from resigning during the school year. But what doesn't make sense is to create an unlawful penalty provision that stops the ethical, conscientious teachers who need to move for financial, health, family, or professional reasons to other school districts. It creates an unlawful restraint of trade and hinders free market capitalism. One of our basic Constitutional rights and privileges as Americans is the freedom to be able to move about our state with our families and work where we want to. The government tying hard working teachers hands to prevent them to be able to do so is simply un-American.

A contract for teachers ends at the close of a school year. For Georgia teachers to resign without putting their families at significant financial risk, they first have to be offered a new contract with another district. Otherwise they risk having zero job period and not even being able to qualify for unemployment benefits. So, for a teacher to resign, they need to know they've got another offer on the table somewhere else. The trouble with DeKalb is they have started strong-arming teachers into not resigning at all, by making them sign a contract very early in the school year (before other Districts have made job offers) and then threatening them with a $750.00 penalty provision if they do tender early notice of resignation. Good teachers who simply wanted to make a move to Fulton, Gwinnett, or another part of Georgia were threatened with the penalty if they resigned after signing their contract on April 4th, way too soon for most of them to have been offered a contract somewhere else.

Now $750.00 may not seem a lot of money to some, but to the average Joe or Jane school teacher, this has financially devastating consequences for most educators who rely on every penny of their paychecks to pay the mortgage and other bills each month. Teachers don't make a lot of money period. Consequently, this new penalty provision has been more salt in the wounds for teachers in Georgia who continue to be mercilessly under attack at every turn.

October 6, 2014

Letter To Superintendent Mike Thurmond, Senator Ron Ramsey, and Human Resources Sent On Behalf Of DeKalb County School Teachers

From Williams Oinonen LLC to Superintendent Mike Thurmond and Human Resources Division

October 6, 2014

DeKalb County School Teachers Sue District For Breach of Contract

Below is a copy of our contract:

DCSD Complaint

October 5, 2014

The Attack on Teachers and Public Education Part One: Atlanta Public Schools, Floyd County Schools, and the June Deadline Decision to Become a Charter System

The attack on public education and teachers is relentless and continues.

The source of these attacks come from the pro-charter corporate, big money anti-union movement that has swept the nation funded by hedge fund billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Bill Gates, the Waltons and more. Unfortunately both Democrats and Republicans have really drank the Kool-Aid on that one through Hollywood propaganda, Teach for America, and corporate lobby interests. It has especially been seen through Michelle Rhee (who is the former boss of the APS new Superintendent) and the movement to privatize public education by Board-TFA takeover. No political party has clean hands when it has come to buying into this propaganda. Sadly, slowly but surely teachers, parents, and communities are learning they have fallen prey to a giant bait and switch. Succumbed by promises of "local school governance" and "greater flexibility" they don't realize what they've given up---necessary accountability and transparency which protects our students, teachers, and public schools---until it is too late.

The latest is the push is for districts to choose to become a charter system by June 2015. Charter advocates believe this is a good thing because it allows more flexibility. The problem is that it throws accountability out the window. Laws that regulate classroom size or teacher qualifications are good things not bad. Whether it is big banks that need regulation to protect consumers from subprime mortgage lending, or laws that protect kids from having oversized classrooms and unqualified teachers, rules are set in place to protect our schools and provide accountability.

We cannot rely on benevolent Superintendents or school district administrators "to do the right thing." Superintendent McDaniel in Floyd County Charter System decided to RIF 120 educators in violation of the charter agreement by excluding local school governance. Teachers were left without recourse, except for that courageous educator Gilda Day who appealed this decision through her constitutional right to due process. Now, Floyd County School System is arguing that charter systems don't need to comply with fair dismissal and is seeking to overturn law which says charter systems need to comply with the Fair Dismissal Act by providing educators the right to due process. The State Board of Education disagrees and ruled in a recent case decision that due process under the Fair Dismissal Act is a civil right for teachers which cannot be waived by charters. The problem is however that it is now up on appeal, Floyd County School Board pushing for a ruling that would negatively affect every teacher throughout the state of Georgia.

This is a scary thing for Georgia teachers everywhere if the Court of Appeals does not affirm this very correct ruling by the State Agency (the Dept. of Education) that has been charged by the Legislature with interpreting the law. Floyd County School System and certain out of state lobby groups funding charter system proponents seek to overturn over a century of good Georgia law---the constitutional right to fair dismissal for teachers which has been the foundation of Georgia law for over 100 years.

In 1916, the State Supt of Schools M.L. Brittain in his book "Georgia School Laws" stated: "Without fixed charges, it is not according to the letter or spirit of Georgia law for a teacher to be summarily discharged at the whim of a Board without trial after being elected for a specific term unless such provision is stated in the contract."

We must not allow the government or out of state interests to deprive our teachers of the right to due process that has been well established for over a century and is rooted in both the Georgia and US Constitution.

Teachers, parents, and communities must demand accountability and transparency in order to preserve public education from becoming slowly destroyed.

September 26, 2014

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Represents Transgender Woman Whose Rapist Was Purposefully Placed In Her Cell

Published on today's front page at Buzzfeed an article on our courageous client Ms. Zahara Green.

Civil rights attorney Mr. Mario Williams is representing Ms. Green who was admitted into special security/protective custody because a violent rapist, child molester, high profile gang member repeatedly targeted her for sexual assault. Then Georgia Dept of Corrections' guards purposefully allowed him to enter and let loose in her solitary, protective cell for nearly 24 hours in spite of security checks every 30 minutes. Ms. Green is exceedingly brave and seeks justice for what has been done.

To read more on the story, click here.


July 31, 2014

Mario Williams Argues Before The Eleventh Circuit First Amendment Retaliation Against The Georgia Department of Corrections Wardens/Commissioners

Today the Daily Report featured an article on Mr. Mario Williams' oral argument before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Mr. Williams represents Delma Jackson, a woman who was retaliated against by the Department of Corrections wardens and commissioners and given indefinite denial of visitation to her spouse as a result of her alleged involvement at a rally at the state Capitol concerning the prison strike held to protest prison abuse.

The District Court held the defendants were not entitled to qualified immunity for denying Jackson visitation rights after her husband discontinued his hunger strike. The judge declared that at some point the threat of any strike-related disruption disappeared.

Read more:

July 28, 2014

Good Georgia Lawyer Wins Georgia Court of Appeals Decision Affirming Jury Trial Win

Good Georgia Lawyer received a Court of Appeals decision victoriously affirming the jury trial verdict where Julie Oinonen represented a Northwest Georgia farming family. The Defendant appealed because he said that Plaintiff's counsel inappropriately showed a picture of a baby in the demonstrative exhibit. The baby was the rightful heir of Jerry Spain, a wonderful farmer who tragically died in a train accident.

To read the Court of Appeals decision which affirms the jury verdict decision you may read here:

July 28, 2014

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Wins Eleventh Circuit Appeal on Federal Claim for False Arrest and State Claims for False Imprisonment, Assault and Battery Against Fulton County Sheriff Deputy

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams received an order from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Robert Kopperud v. Dexter Mabry denying the Defendant's appeal of the District Court's denial of summary judgment. The District Court denied qualified and official immunity for Defendant Deputy Sheriff Dexter Mabry who was sued by Robert Kopperud, represented by Mario Williams and Julie Oinonen.

This decision comes on the heels of several other appellate victories by Mario Williams, civil rights lawyer who regularly represents multiple civil rights victims who have been wrongfully killed or catastrophically injured due to civil rights violations such as excessive force.

This Wednesday, Mario Williams will be arguing before the Eleventh Circuit in oral argument on behalf of Delma Jackson who is suing wardens from the Department of Corrections in a retaliation First Amendment claim. Delma Jackson is the wife of a prisoner who has had her visitation to her husband taken away indefinitely as a result of exercising her First Amendment rights concerning issues of prison strike and abuses.

To read the Eleventh Circuit decision in the case of our client Robert Kopperud, you may view it here:

June 8, 2014

Good Georgia Serious Injury Civil Rights Lawyer Represents Pregnant Woman Injured By Flash Bang Grenade

Good Georgia Serious Injury Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams represents Treneshia Dukes, a pregnant woman who was seriously injured with burns when a flash bang grenade landed on her bed while she was sleeping. Just this past week, the AJC reported how the Clayton County police were sued in this case as the media's focus has been on the use of these flash bang grenades.

Below is a copy of the complaint. It may take a minute to load on the web page but it is worth the read:

First Amended Complaint -T. Dukes by julie9094

June 1, 2014

Good Georgia Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams Will Argue Before Eleventh Circuit In First Amendment Case

The case of Delma Jackson vs. Wardens from the Department of Corrections involving First Amendment retaliation will be argued before the Eleventh Circuit on Ms. Jackson's behalf by Mr. Mario Williams this summer. The Defendants appealed the District Court's order.

Below is a copy of the complaint. It may take a minute to load on the web page but it is worth the read.

Plaintiff's First Amended Complaint - Jackson by julie9094

May 22, 2014

Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Represents Estate and Family of Lost Loved One

Good Georgia Wrongful Death and Civil Rights Lawyer Mario Williams represents the seriously injured and victims of wrongful death.

In this case, Mr. Williams represents the Estate of the deceased Melvin Williams (no relation) against the city of East Dublin.

To view a copy of the complaint, see below.

Amended Complaint Filed Copy-Williams by julie9094

May 21, 2014

Williams Oinonen LLC Congratulates Our Clients: Mayor Hardie Davis of Augusta and Senator Horacena Tate

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This election season Williams Oinonen LLC is proud to have represented winning teams and congratulate our clients on their success this election.

Congratulations to Senator Horacena Tate for her successful win serving the people of Georgia along with Senator Hardie Davis---who is now the new Mayor of Augusta, Georgia.

To find out the political consulting opposition research services Williams Oinonen LLC provides go to our website for more information. Williams Oinonen LLC is Georgia's premier political consulting/opponent research firm.

Our firm focuses all aspects of a political campaign but we especially pride ourselves on:

*Conducting opponent research, identifying the competitor's key vulnerabilities, and developing strategies to defeat the opposition.
*Issue and policy research.
*Strategic communications development, message creation and delivery.
*Image marketing and creative use of all new media.
*Organizing community outreach.
*Writing and editing news releases, web page content, speeches and campaign materials.
*Preventative and reactive crisis management.

To quote one of our favorite Senator clients:

"Hands down, Williams Oinonen is the best out there. They played a vital role in ensuring a landslide victory. From offering priceless opponent research, to developing key strategies, to providing media and political advice----they are a tenacious and unstoppable pair and are the one "must have" you want on your team. Ethical, honest, and committed, they were always there for me when I needed them. If you are looking to win---call Williams Oinonen."

May 13, 2014

Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Files Suit Today

Good Georgia Wrongful Death Lawyer Mario Williams filed suit today regarding the wrongful death of Mr. Christopher Thomas. For more information on this lawsuit, please review a copy of the complaint below.

It may take a minute to upload onto the web page but it is viewable below:

First Amended Complaint-Thomas by julie9094

April 8, 2014

Floyd County Board of Education Member Terry Williamson Sued For Alleged Violations of Georgia Law

Floyd County Board of Education Terry Williamson was sued this week for alleged violations of Georgia law. If you have information concerning this matter, please contact Williams Oinonen LLC at 404-654-0288.

To read the lawsuit you may view here:

Lawsuit Against Terry Williamson

March 18, 2014

Good Georgia Employment Lawyer Discusses: "Do I Have A Case For Race Discrimination, Harassment, Hostile Work Environment?"

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Oftentimes, employees come to us because they believe they are being racially discriminated against and subjected to a hostile work environment.

Racial harassment is actionable (which means you can file a lawsuit because of it) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 where the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of employment and create an abusive working environment. See, e.g., Freeman v. City of Riverdale, 330 F. App'x 863, 865 (11th Cir.2009).

To establish a prima facie case of hostile work environment in the form of racial harassment, an employee must show that (1) he belonged to a protected group; (2) he was subjected to unwelcome harassment; (3) the harassment was based on his race; (4) the harassment was sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create a racially abusive work environment; and (5) a basis exists for holding the employer liable. See Miller v. Kenworth of Dothan, Inc., 277 F.3d 1269, 1275 (11th Cir.2002).

Oftentimes, the first three elements are easier to prove than the fourth. For example, it is easy to prove that you are African American and thus belong to a protected class; or that you were subjected to unwelcome harassment. Depending on the facts, one must prove whether the harassment was based on race.

However, it is the fourth element (the "severe and pervasive element") which can be most challenging. The Courts have held that to evaluate the objective severity of the alleged harassment, the court should consider "(1) the frequency of the conduct; (2) the severity of the conduct; (3) whether the conduct is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (4) whether the conduct unreasonably interferes with the employee's job performance." Miller, 277 F.3d at 1276 (citing Allen v. Tyson Foods, 121 F.3d 642, 647 (11th Cir.1997)). No single factor is dispositive; the evaluation must take into consideration the "totality of the circumstances." Id.

In a recent case brought by the EEOC by an African-American employee, the Plaintiff alleged that the harassment--including his repeated use of racial insults and the word 'n-----,' spoken directly to the Black employee or made in his presence--was severe and occurred frequently over the entire course of his fourteen-month employment. "[R]epeated incidents of verbal harassment ... are indicative of a hostile work environment." Id. (ethnic slurs directed at plaintiff three to four times daily is severe and pervasive); see also Nichols v. Volunteers of America, North Alabama, Inc., 470 F. App'x 757, 761 (11th Cir.2012) (finding evidence that plaintiff encountered racially hostile behavior and language at work "on a daily basis" sufficient to create an issue of fact about whether harassment was severe or pervasive); In this recent case, the Court found that the Plaintiff's allegations were sufficient to show that the harassment was severe enough to alter the terms and conditions of employment and create a discriminatorily abusive work environment. E.E.O.C. v. Titan Waste Servs. Inc., 3:10CV379/MCR/EMT, 2014 WL 931010 (N.D. Fla. Mar. 10, 2014)

To establish a prima facie case of disparate treatment--here, based on discriminatory discharge--an employee must show (1) that he is a member of a protected class; (2) that he was qualified for his position; (3) that he was subjected to an adverse employment action, and (4) that his employer treated "similarly situated" employees outside his class more favorably. Holifield v. Reno, 115 F.3d 1555, 1562 (11th Cir.1997).

The Eleventh Circuit's standard for discrimination claims requires an employee to establish an "ultimate employment decision" or make some other showing of substantiality in the employment context in order to establish an adverse employment action. See Crawford v. Carroll, 529 F.3d 961, 970 (11th Cir.2008) (citing Stavropoulos v. Firestone, 361 F.3d 610, 616-17 (11th Cir.2004); Ultimate employment decisions may include "termination, failure to hire, or demotion." Stavropoulos, 361 F.3d at 617. Conduct falling short of an ultimate employment decision must, in some substantial way, "alter the employee's compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, deprive him or her of employment opportunities, or adversely affect [ ] his or her status as an employee." Gupta v. Florida Board of Regents, 212 F.3d 571, 587 (11th Cir.2000) The level of substantiality required for a Title VII discrimination claim requires an employee to demonstrate he suffered "a serious and material change in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment" in order to demonstrate an adverse employment action. Davis v. Town of Lake Park, Fla., 245 F.3d 1232, 1239 (11th Cir.2001).

Remember that if you suffer such an adverse employment action based on discriminatory reasons, you have 180 days from the date it last occurred to file an EEOC charge in order to preserve your right to sue.

Also if you suspect race discrimination is affecting you at work but you are simply not certain, it is well worth seeking legal consultation. Most importantly, if you believe that your employer is seeking to terminate you as a result of discriminatory motives, do your very best if possible to seek legal counsel sooner rather than later, especially if it is prior to losing your job. We can help.