Articles Posted in Employment

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Congratulations to Deborah Schwartz, winner of the National Employment Lawyers Association of Georgia (NELA-GA) Advocacy Award. NELA-GA Board Members Tamika Sykes and Julie Oinonen organized the Advocacy Award Dinner this year and were proud to present Deborah Schwartz with this year’s award.

NELA-GA, the Georgia affiliate of the National Employment Lawyers Association (NELA), is a civil rights bar association composed of attorneys whose employment litigation practices advocate for employees’ rights.

Julie Oinonen and Mario Williams of Williams Oinonen LLC are proud members of NELA-GA. Stated Julie Oinonen: “We believe in this group of like-minded lawyers who care about protecting civil rights. Ms. Schwartz’ work, particularly in the area of employment discrimination, has been an inspiration to all of our members to continue fighting the good fight.”

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Georgia Education Lawyer Julie Oinonen won an appeal before the State Board of Education on behalf of Mrs. Cindy Williams, a Georgia Association of Educators’ member and one of the sole African American guidance counselors in Grady County School System in southwest Georgia who was wrongfully terminated.

Fortunately,the Grady County Board of Education agreed to award a $50,000 settlement as detailed in the front page of the Thompson Times newspaper. Along with the settlement, the Georgia State Board of Education granted Williams’ appeal, reversing the Grady board’s vote to terminate her employment.

Mrs. Williams’ attorney, Julie Oinonen of Williams Oinonen LLC in Atlanta, said of the settlement:

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Georgia Education Lawyer won back the $750 of liquidated damages taken out of 150 DeKalb County School teachers’ contracts. The suit, brought on behalf of two plaintiffs for the loss of $1500.00, ended up having a settlement of $160,000 to pay each of the 150 teachers back their unpaid wages, paid $50,000 in attorney fees, and placed a moratorium of the liquidated damages provision in teacher contracts for the 2017-2018 school year.

The two courageous plaintiffs, Chayka Bettis and Leslie Hein, were members of the Georgia Association of Educators. Williams Oinonen LLC partner Julie Oinonen stated that “we filed the lawsuit hoping to establish a state-wide precedent for all Georgia educators. We hope that DeKalb will uphold the moratorium and other school districts will follow their lead.”

To read the front page Daily Report article, click here.

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Georgia Education Lawyer obtained a “no probable cause” finding for Ms. Stephanie Fleet effectively dismissing the charges that were brought against her by the Attorney General on behalf of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, the state agency that regulates teacher contracts.

Ms. Fleet was exonerated from the charges brought against her where she was accused of improperly restraining a student by using a chokehold. In fact, Ms. Fleet was restraining a violent student who had tried to swung at her and other students repeatedly. In order to protect herself and other students, Ms. Fleet performed a lawful restraint on the student but did not at anytime touch his neck.

Mrs. Fleet, a Georgia Association of Educators’ member, was gratified for the help both GAE and her attorney provided stating: “I am very grateful that I had GAE’s team on my side. My UniServ Directors went to bat for me and their network attorney represented me with real passion.”

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Good Education Lawyer Julie Oinonen recently won a hard fought Georgia Professional Standards Commission (PSC) case on behalf of a Georgia educator who was wrongfully accused of violating the standards of ethics and risked having her teaching certification suspended. The Georgia PSC wished to suspend the educator’s teaching license certification. The case was tried before an Administrative Law Judge in the Bartow County Courthouse. The Attorney General of the State of Georgia prosecuted the case on behalf of the PSC. The Judge’s case decision successfully vindicated the educator rejecting the PSC’s recommendation and reversing the decision to suspend the Assistant Principal’s teaching certification. The educator was very happy with the representation Williams Oinonen LLC provided. She gave us permission to share her testimonial writing:

“Dear Julie, I wanted to thank you wholeheartedly for the work that you did on my case. Your knowledge and expertise were invaluable in proving to the PSC that I had, in fact, followed proper procedures and that I was not in violation of the law. After more than 18 months of uncertainty and worry, I can finally rest assured that I may move forward in my career. May God’s blessings surround you in all that you do! With gratitude.”

Williams Oinonen LLC is proud to be an attorney affiliate of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). Teachers and administrators who are not members are free to hire us privately but Good Georgia Education Attorney recommends that every teacher in Georgia sign up for the workplace protection GAE offers which will pay for for full legal coverage in the event of a PSC charge.

 

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Good Georgia Employment Lawyer is representing yet another African American employee suing CNN for race discrimination. Dewayne Walker, a manager for CNN’s Creative Marketing and Public Relations Group in Atlanta is suing Turner Broadcasting System, Time Warner Inc., CNN and Turner Services Inc. for $50 million for racial discrimination and claims he was retaliated against for filing an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC] complaint. Dewayne Walker alleged in his lawsuit he has never been promoted in the thirteen years he’s worked for CNN because he is black. In that time frame, he claims he’s endured racially prejudice statements from bosses, including ‘It’s hard to manage black people’ and ‘Who would be worth more: black slaves from the past, or new slaves.’ The 46-year-old advances his claims by adding that he’s been skipped over nine times for promotions for white employees, who he maintains were less qualified than him for the positions. This is not the first race discrimination suit against CNN. Williams Oinonen LLC also recently represented Mr. Ricky Blalock. 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3388729/It-s-hard-manage-black-people-Emmy-winning-CNN-producer-sues-Ted-Turner-s-broadcasting-company-50-million-claiming-passed-promotions-favor-whites-culture-unilateral-unchecked-DISCRIMINATION.html#ixzz4PwW2APDL

Williams Oinonen LLC represents hard working Georgians throughout the state who are being unlawfully treated by their employers. Call 404-654-0288 for more information.

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Georgia Whistleblower Miss MaeDell Clark sues Floyd County School District for retaliation. The news story that explains how the District terminated Miss Maedell after she complained of being cheated out of her wages is here.

Here is a press release from the Georgia Association of Educators:
maedell clark.pdf

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The Georgia State Department of Education’s recent ruling that charter systems must comply with the Fair Dismissal Act was an enormous victory for Gilda Day and every educator throughout Georgia. Nevertheless, Northwest Georgia Superintendent Jeff McDaniel and his Floyd County local board’s choice to appeal this statewide decision by arguing that no civil right applies single-handedly places at risk the rights of all Georgia educators in threatening to strip vital constitutional protections throughout the state.

The key to the State Board of Education teacher victory was the State Board’s interpretation of the charter school statute, specifically the term “civil rights.” An excerpt from the actual decision states: “[, the] Local Board contends that since the Fair Dismissal Act, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-940 et seg., is within Title 20, that it is not subject to the Fair Dismissal Act. The Local Board’s assertion is without merit. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(b)(5) provides that charter systems are “[s]ubject to all federal, state, and local rules, regulations, court orders, and statutes relating to civil rights.” The Fair Dismissal Act provides due process rights to certain school employees, which is a civil right. Thus, O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2065(a) cannot be read so broadly as to violate the due process rights of school employees who are entitled to due process.”

Mike McGonigle, Legal Services Director of the Georgia Association of Educators says the importance of this decision cannot be overemphasized in this new environment of charter-mania and he points out that GAE led the fight against the initial removal of fair dismissal and for its eventual restoration. “What fair dismissal means is the right for teachers, administrators, and support professionals to simply teach children in a learning environment that is free from the fear of retaliation and at-will termination. Contrary to what opponents have always said, fair dismissal does not provide lifelong employment opportunities for incompetent educators. Without fair dismissal protection, teachers are at will employees who could be subjected to reprimand and dismissal based on false or frivolous, unsubstantiated complaints or decisions. Fair dismissal does not protect bad teachers. On the contrary, it protects good teachers from discriminatory, biased reprimands, and unfair treatment,” he said.

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workers.JPGOne of the main reasons many of our new clients contact our law firm is because they have heard how we were able to help save a friend or family member’s job and they need the same type of help. Oftentimes, they believe their boss is about to fire them because they see the writing on the wall, for example, they have just been placed on a professional improvement plan or professional development plan and they know their boss is building a paper trail against them to set them up for termination.

If that describes your situation, one of the most important thing you can do is to retain legal counsel immediately. As we tell clients, it is often quite difficult to “unring the bell” once the bell has been rung, i.e. an employee has been terminated from their job. However, before this happens, there is often time enough for legal intervention.

As many of you know, Georgia is an “at-will” employment state also known as a “right to work state.” This is really a misnomer as it should be called a “right to fire at will state.” This means, barring a legal exception, your boss can fire you simply because he or she doesn’t like you. That is reason enough as long as they not liking you doesn’t have to do with them not liking a protected status, for example, your skin color or the fact you are pregnant. There are several federal civil rights laws that protect employees from such type of discrimination, the most well-known of course being Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which makes it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against an individual regarding his employment because of an individual’s race, color, religion, or national origin. 42 U.S.C. § 2000 e-2(a)(1).

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justice-scales-gavel-fb.jpegChoosing a good lawyer to help you with a case, such as wrongful death, contract dispute, employment termination; asset forfeiture, and excessive force, can be very difficult.

Many blog posts advise you to make sure that (1) you feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose and that (2) the lawyer you choose has sound experience and understanding in the area you need representation in. While all that is true, there is one area that also demonstrates the quality of representation you will be obtaining to handle your case: your lawyer’s willingness and ability to handle an appeal of your case in front of a higher court.

Foremost, you may not read a lot of blog posts that talk about handling an appeal of your case in front of higher courts, because that means something may have went wrong with your case in the lower court. But here’s the reality: when you are going up against cities, school districts; law enforcement officials; public officials; big corporations; and hospitals–whether you win or lose at the lower court (trial court), one party is going to appeal, or threaten to appeal the loss, to the higher court (Appeals Court).