Archive for June, 2008

Update: Supreme Court Expands Law for Employees’ Race Retaliation Claims

On May 27, 2008, the United States Supreme Court ruled that race retaliation claims are allowable under 42 U.S.C. § 1981.  See CBOCS West, Inc. v. Humphries, __ S.Ct. ___, 2008 WL 2167860 (May 27, 2008).  While lower circuit courts have held § 1981 allows retaliation claims, this is the first decision from the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue.  This ruling will have a significant effect on the area of employment litigation because it conclusively establishes that individuals may bring claims of retaliation against employers under § 1981. 


As we explained in our February 29, 2008, blog, this decision is important because it allows employees to circumvent the strict time requirements of Title VII and confirms employers may be subject to retaliation claims, even if the employee did not follow the administrative procedures required by Title VII.  In Georgia, this means employers must watch for retaliation claims for two years from the alleged retaliatory action rather than only watching for an EEOC Charge within 180 days after the alleged retaliatory action and a lawsuit within 90 days after the issuance of a right-to-sue letter from the EEOC. 


The attorneys at Buckley Brown are available to assist you in preventing and defending retaliation and other employment discrimination claims, under both Georgia and federal law.

For more information, please contact T.K. Haff at (404) 633-9230.


Supreme Court Extends Privacy Protection to Employee Personnel Information

Employers should keep their employees’ personnel file information private from those who have no reason to have the information, including statements related to terminations.  Such statements may constitute defamation, according to the Supreme Court of Georgia in the case of Scouten v. Amerisave Mortgage Corp., 283 Ga. 72 (2008).  


In Scouten, the Court held that the complaint sufficiently stated a claim for defamation, including the required element of publication, where a former employee alleged that defamatory statements relating to his termination were disseminated to coworkers who had no need for access to employee’s private personnel information. The court explained that to recover for oral defamation or slander, one must prove (1) the making of a slanderous statement; and (2) publication of the slander to anyone other than the person slandered.


The Scouten Court explained that when a communication is intra-corporate or between members of unincorporated groups or associations, there is no publication if the alleged defamatory statements are stated to those who have the duty or authority for the information. However, the intra-corporate exception to publication does not apply to defamatory statements disseminated to employees who have no reason to receive the information. 



For more information, please contact Tim Buckley at (404) 633-9230.

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