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Total Articles: 37

City of Atlanta Stay at Home Order and Limited Georgia Shelter in Place Order

On the heels of a limited “shelter in place” order by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued a Stay at Home Order requiring all individuals living in the City of Atlanta to stay at home, except to engage in limited activities, to work for Essential Businesses or to engage in other permitted work activities. The City’s Order also provides that all non-essential businesses must cease operations at physical locations within the City, except for “Minimum Basic Operations.”

Georgia Enacts Emergency COVID-19 Rule Requiring Employers to File Claims for Partial Unemployment

The Georgia Department of Labor has passed an emergency rule requiring employers to file claims for partial unemployment benefits online on behalf of employees who have been temporarily laid off or have had their hours reduced due to the lack of work as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Georgia and the City of Atlanta Issue Separate 14-Day Restrictions Ordering Certain Residents to Stay at Home in an Effort to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

On March 23, 2020, the State of Georgia and City of Atlanta issued two separate orders aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19 across the state over the next 14 days. First, Governor Brian Kemp issued a “shelter-in-place” order (“State Order”) requiring certain individuals with an “increased risk of complications” from COVID-19 to shelter in place in their homes. This group includes individuals who are living in long-term care facilities, have chronic lung disease, are undergoing cancer treatment, have a positive COVID-19 test, are suspected of having COVID-19 because of their symptoms and exposure, or have been exposed to someone who has COVID-19. The State Order also closes bars and nightclubs across Georgia, and bans all gatherings of 10 or more people, unless six feet can be maintained between individuals at all times. The State Order is effective from 12:00 PM on March 24, 2020 through 12:00 PM on April 6, 2020.

Updates to Georgia Unemployment – What Does It Mean For Employers?

The Georgia Department of Labor (“Department”), in response to COVID-19, issued an emergency rule1 on March 16, 2020 related to filing partial unemployment claims. The rule will remain in effect for 120 days or until the Department adopts a subsequent rule.

Non-Compete News: Georgia Court Holds Contractor Owes Fiduciary Duty/Duty of Loyalty

In late 2019, the Northern District of Georgia (Atlanta federal court) addressed the duties owed when an independent contractor leaves one trucking company to work for another. In Wind Logistics Prof’l v. Universal Truckload, Inc., Universal Truckload (“Universal”) was in the business of transporting industrial wind equipment. In 2012, Mr. Parson, who previously had been employed by Universal to coordinate the transportation and delivery of wind equipment, entered into an independent contractor agency agreement with Universal.

Non-Compete News: – Georgia Court Interprets Non-Compete Statute's "Sale-of-a-Business" Provision

Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act (O.C.G.A. § 13-8-50 et seq.) (“RCA”) governs Georgia non-compete agreements entered into after May 2011. Very few courts have interpreted the RCA since its inception.[1] In Bearoff v. Craton, decided a few months ago, the Georgia Court of Appeals authored its very first decision in the “sale of business” context (i.e., a seller of a business agreeing to a non-compete for some period after the sale). Specifically, the Bearoff court confirmed that, in such circumstances, a non-compete may be enforced for the longer of five years or the time period during which the buyer pays the seller for the business.

Georgia Supreme Court May Weigh in on Standing in Data Breach Litigation

The Georgia Supreme Court may weigh in on the hot issue plaguing data breach class action litigation across the nation, must a data breach victim suffer actual financial loss to recover damages, or is the threat of future harm enough? On August 20, the Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments in a class action suit stemming from a data breach in September 2017 at Athens Orthopedic, exposing 200,000 of its current and former patients’ personal information including names, addresses, social security numbers, dates of birth and telephone numbers. Upon discovery of the breach, Athens Orthopedic advised patients to place fraud alerts on their credit accounts and seek other advice.

Non-Compete News: Georgia Court of Appeals Clarifies Definition of "Key Employee" Under the Georgia Restrictive Covenants Act

The Georgia Restrictive Covenants Act (O.C.G.A. § 13-8-50 et seq.) governs non-compete agreements in Georgia entered into after May 2011 and sets forth that such agreements can be used only with respect to certain employees. One context in which non-compete agreements are permitted is where an employee “customarily and regularly” solicits customers or makes sales. Non-compete agreements are also permissible where an employee “perform[s] the duties of a key employee or of a professional.”

Non-Compete News: In Georgia, Whether It Is a Non-Compete or a Non-Solicit Makes All the Difference

Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act (the “RCA”) became effective in May 2011, but it took nearly six years before a court published a decision interpreting the statute in the context of a non-competition provision (See our previous legal alert regarding the first published decision). Therefore, companies deciding whether to use or enforce a non-compete agreement have little guidance regarding how courts will interpret such agreements under the law.

Non-Compete News – Georgia Court Interprets Who Can Be Subject to a Non-Compete

Executive Summary: Effective May 2011, Georgia’s Restrictive Covenants Act (RCA) represented a significant change to pre-existing Georgia law. Since then, however, very few courts have interpreted the RCA, leaving employers and practitioners alike with questions over how, and under what circumstances, restrictive covenants agreements may be used to protect an employer’s legitimate business interests.[1] One of the few decisions interpreting the statute, CSM Bakery Solutions, LLC v. Debus (N.D. Ga. 2017) underscores the reality that some employees in Georgia simply are immune from post-employment non-compete provisions – even where the covenants are reasonably tailored in duration, geographic proximity, and scope of precluded activity.

Hands-Free Georgia Act Takes Effect July 1, 2018

Executive Summary: Employees are increasingly exposed to traffic and longer commute times, and some employees drive during the course and scope of their employment. Hands-free technology makes it possible to safely conduct business from a vehicle. As such, Georgia employers should be aware of recent changes to state law regarding the use of hands-free technology by drivers. Vehicle use policies may need to be updated to ensure compliance with state law.

Georgia Targets Elder Abuse with Tough New Long-Term Care Background Check Law

A new Georgia law will require nursing home and other long-term care workers to submit to extensive background checks. The “Georgia Long-Term Care Background Check Program” will take effect on October 1, 2019. Georgia joins the majority of other states mandating enhanced satisfactory background check for care workers.

Georgia Supreme Court Clarifies Insurance Company is Not ‘Financial Institution’ in Garnishment Law

An insurance company named as a garnishee in a garnishment action is not a “financial institution” under Georgia’s garnishment statute when the garnishment is seeking earnings owed to its current or former employees.

Non-Compete News: Georgia Court of Appeals Confirms Lack of Geographic or Material Contact Limitation Does Not Invalidate Non-Solicitation of Employees Covenant

Executive Summary: Georgia’s recent Restrictive Covenant Act, enacted in 2011, does not directly address non-solicitation of employees a/k/a non-recruitment covenants, thereby leaving such provisions subject to the principles developed by courts through “common law” (i.e. case law). Because Georgia common law is not well developed on the requirements of employee non-solicitation covenants, employers often second guess the enforceability of such covenants. Fortunately, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently provided some clarification on these covenants in CMGRP, Inc. v. Gallant, No. A17A1168 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 4, 2017), where it made clear that non-solicitation of employees covenants do not require geographic or material contact limitations to be enforceable.

Georgia's New Kin Care Law: Who is Covered and What It Means for Employers

Overview: On May 8, 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed Senate Bill 201, now known as Act 203, into law. The law went into effect on July 1, 2017. In short, the new law requires covered employers, who provide paid sick leave to employees, to allow those employees to use some sick leave to care for immediate family members. The law does not create a new cause of action, which means an employee cannot bring a private suit against her or his employer under the new law.

New Georgia Law Preempts Predictive Scheduling Ordinances

Georgia’s Minimum Wage Law (O.C.G.A. § 34-4-1 et seq.) already prohibits local governments from requiring employers to pay employees a wage rate that exceeds what is required under state or federal law. This same law also prohibits local governments from requiring employers to provide employment benefits not otherwise required by state or federal law. And on May 8, 2017, Governor Nathan Deal signed a law that adds an amendment further prohibiting Georgia localities from passing “predictive scheduling” ordinances.

Q&A: Georgia’s New Paid Sick Leave Law

On May 8, 2017, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law the Family Care Act, a new statute requiring certain employers to allow their employees to use up to five days of their available paid sick leave to care for immediate family members. This new law takes effect on July 1, 2017. What follows are several important questions and answers regarding the Family Care Act’s requirements, as well as a number of key takeaways for employers.

Georgia Enacts Kin Care Law

Beginning July 1, 2017, large employers in Georgia that offer paid sick leave will be required to permit their employees to use some of it to care for their immediate family members.

Georgia Laws Endorse ‘On Call Scheduling’ Practice and Provide Limited Paid Sick Leave Protections

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed into law a measure preempting any local wage laws or requirements that employers compensate employees for changes related to employee schedules. Act 221 (H.B. 243) continues Georgia’s tradition of promoting an employer-friendly environment, particularly for retail businesses and restaurants.

Georgia Magistrate Judge Limits OSHA Safety Inspections in Poultry Plants

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is fighting a Gainesville, Georgia, magistrate judge’s recommendation that would restrict its new regional worker-safety program aimed at poultry processing facilities.

New Georgia Law Says Franchisors Generally Not Employers of Franchisees or Franchisees’ Workers

The “Protecting Georgia Small Businesses Act” amends Georgia’s Labor and Industrial Relations Code to provide that neither a franchisee nor a franchisee’s employee is considered an employee of a franchisor for “any purpose.” However, the amendment does not apply to the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Code. The Act goes into effect on January 1, 2017.

Georgia Minimum Wage Law Applies to Employees Exempt from Fair Labor Standards Act, State High Court Rules

In-home personal care employees in Georgia were covered by the state’s minimum wage law, the Georgia Supreme Court has ruled, notwithstanding the fact that those employees were exempt from the minimum wage requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Anderson v. Southern Home Care Services, et al., No. S15Q1127 (Nov. 23, 2015).

Change in Georgia’s First Offender Act Facilitating Employment to be Applied Retroactively

Legislation overhauling Georgia’s probation system also affects Georgia’s First Offender Act (“GFOA”) (O.C.G.A. § 42-8-60 et seq.), which protects certain criminal defendants from being disqualified from consideration for employment based on their criminal record.

Georgia Garnishment Ruling Modified by Judge, No Longer Applies to Wages

Revising his September 8 decision that Georgia’s garnishment statute is unconstitutional, U.S. District Judge Marvin H. Shoob has issued an order stating that his ruling does not apply to wage garnishment cases filed against a judgment debtor’s employer. Strickland v. Alexander, No. 1:12-CV-02735-MHS (N.D. Ga. Oct. 5, 2015).

Georgia Wage Garnishments Resume after Revised Order

Executive Summary: Nearly one month after Federal Judge Marvin Shoob, of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, ruled that Georgia's garnishment law is unconstitutional, on Monday, October 5, 2015, Judge Shoob issued an amended order in which he narrowed his original order and ruled that wage garnishments are permitted in Gwinnett County. Strickland v. Alexander, No. 1:12-CV-02735 (N.D. Ga. Oct. 5th, 2015).

Return to Sender: The Boomerang of Garnishment Checks Back to Georgia Employers

Executive Summary: Across Georgia, employers are opening their mailboxes to discover that courts have returned checks that employers previously submitted to satisfy garnishment actions. This is the result of decisions by many courts across Georgia to stop accepting garnishment checks in light of a decision issued by Judge Marvin Shoob of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, in which Judge Shoob ruled that Georgia's garnishment law is unconstitutional. Strickland v. Alexander, No. 1:12-CV-02735 (N.D. Ga. Sept. 8, 2015).

U.S. District Court Declares Georgia Wage Garnishment Statute Unconstitutional

On September 8, 2015, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia entered an Order declaring Georgia’s post-judgment garnishment statue, O.C.G.A. § 18-4-60 et seq., unconstitutional. Strickland v. Alexander, Civil Action No. 1:12-CV-02735-MHS (N.D. Ga. Sept. 8, 2015) (granting plaintiff’s summary judgment motion). The basis for the court’s decision was that the garnishment statute fails to give debtors adequate notice about (1) what types of property may be exempt from garnishment under state and federal law and (2) the procedures for claiming available exemptions. The court also held that the statute violates due process rights because it fails to provide for a “prompt and expeditious” process for resolving exemption claims. As a result of this Order, Gwinnett County courts have been enjoined from issuing any garnishment summons until further notice.

Georgia Employers With 11 Or More Employees Required To Use E-Verify For New Hires

As of July 1, 2013, all private employers in Georgia with more than ten employees should be enrolled in and using E-Verify (the federal employment verification system) for new hires or re-hires. The Georgia E-Verify requirements were enacted in 2011 and phased in over the last two years based on number of full-time (35 or more hours/week) employees counted on January 1 of each year.

Georgia Employers Face More Aggressive Immigration Compliance Requirements Effective July 1, 2013

Executive Summary: Yet another domino has fallen in the changing landscape of immigration law.

Rules For Garnishments In Georgia Changed Again

As you know, last year the Georgia Supreme Court issued a new rule prohibiting non-lawyers, such as payroll clerks or human resources professionals, from signing garnishment pleadings that are filed in court. Doing so was, in the Court's view, the unlicensed practice of law. Our Legal Alert on that development was issued in September.

Governor Signs Law to Overturn Rule Requiring Georgia Attorneys to Answer Garnishments

On February 8, 2012, Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 683 into law. HB 683 effectively overturns the Georgia Supreme Court’s recent decision requiring employers to use a Georgia-licensed attorney to file answers to garnishments in Georgia courts of record. Under the new law, which becomes effective immediately, employers may use a Georgia-licensed attorney, their own in-house staff (including human resources, payroll, and other non-attorney staff), or other third-party vendors to handle responses to summonses of garnishment in Georgia.

Georgia Supreme Court Decision Requiring Georgia Attorneys to Answer Georgia Garnishments May Be Overturned

The Georgia business community may have successfully rallied against the September 12, 2011 Georgia Supreme Court decision requiring any answer of garnishment filed in a Georgia court of record to be signed by a Georgia-licensed attorney. The Georgia House of Representatives has approved a bill that would reverse the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision and allow employers to execute and file garnishment answers without the involvement of an attorney. Last week, and without discussion, the Georgia Senate unanimously passed the bill, and now the bill will be sent to Governor Nathan Deal for his final approval. The new law would be effective upon the Governor’s signature.

Is Your Business Prepared To Comply with the Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011?

On May 13, 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill #87, a comprehensive immigration law mandating employer verification compliance and establishing criminal penalties for various acts. Some have touted the law as one of the toughest immigration laws in the nation and claim the Georgia law is similar to many provisions in Arizona’s S.B. 1070 currently under legal challenge in the State of Arizona. On June 2, 2011, several civil rights and labor groups filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia challenging several provisions of the AZ-style legislation on constitutional grounds. This article will focus on the main employment verification provisions of the new law as well as various criminal provisions that could impact employers and/or their employees.

Only Georgia Attorneys May Answer Georgia Garnishments

In a two-sentence decision issued on September 12, 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court approved an advisory opinion issued by the State Bar of Georgia Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. The advisory opinion interpreted existing Georgia case law as requiring any answer of garnishment filed in a court of record in Georgia to be signed by an attorney licensed to practice in that state. Consequently, as of September 12, all corporations must use a Georgia-licensed attorney to respond to any summons of garnishment issued by a state or superior court in Georgia. Failure to comply with this rule can result in a default (a stricken answer) in the garnishment proceeding and possible criminal sanctions for the unauthorized practice of law.

Georgia Supreme Court Rules Non-Lawyers May Not Answer Garnishments

Over the years, Georgia employers have become accustomed to processing and responding to garnishments on their own. While legal counsel might be called upon to handle the more unique issues that inevitably arise in a garnishment proceeding, employers more commonly resort to their human resources or payroll departments to handle routine garnishments.

E-Verify Requirement Coming for Most Georgia Employers

The Georgia legislature passed an immigration bill late last week which will require most Georgia employers to use the federal E-Verify employment eligibility verification system for all newly-hired employees by July 1, 2013. Although he expects a constitutional challenge to the law, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has indicated that he will sign the bill into law this week.

Georgia Enacts New Gun Law: All Employers Affected.

After years of lobbying by gun rights groups in its favor, and by business associations in opposition, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the "Business Security and Employee Privacy Act" on May 14. This Act expands the areas in which holders of firearm licenses may legally carry concealed weapons – and places some limitations on employers’ rights.
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