What to Know about the Wrongful Termination Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Understanding your rights as an employee in Georgia can be complicated. Here’s what to know about the statute of limitations for wrongful termination in Georgia.
What is a “statute of limitations”?
A statute of limitations is a law defining the time in which a person can begin civil or criminal legal proceedings as measured from the date of the incident. After this period, the government can no longer bring criminal charges in a case. If an individual attempts to bring forth a charge after the statute of limitations has passed, the person charged can have the case dismissed.
Statute of limitations aims to ensure timely and fair trials. If people wait too long to file legal proceedings, relevant evidence may be lost and people’s recollections of the incident become less accurate, threatening the trial’s integrity. Imposing time restrictions on prosecution helps ensure cases are as fair and accurate as possible.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee in violation of federal or state anti-discimination laws or the termination clause of an employee contract.
Termination clauses dictate on what grounds an employer may fire their employee. Understanding the differences between different termination terms is crucial for an employee so they can distinguish between lawful and unlawful termination.
Termination clauses fall into one of the following categories:
- Good cause/just cause
- Term contract
- Good reason
At-will employment means an employer may fire an employee at any time, without notice, and for any reason or no reason as long as the reason is not unlawful.
What is an unlawful reason for firing an at-will employee?
Discrimination on the basis of factors like religion, gender, or age as well as retaliation are unlawful reasons for firing an at-will employee.
Good Cause/Just Cause
Good cause employment means an employer may fire an employee only for a “good cause” or “just cause.” The definition of a good or just clause will be included in the employment contract but typically include provisions such as drug use and criminal behavior.
If an individual employed under good cause employment is fired without “good cause,” they may have a claim for breach of contract and may be entitled to compensation for their unlawful termination.
What is Breach of Contract?
A breach of contract is when one party violates the terms of the contract. When this occurs, the wronged party or parties may be entitled to financial compensation for the transgression.
Term contract employment lasts for a set amount of time, or term, stipulated by the employee agreement. After this period lapses, the employment either automatically renews or a new agreement must be entered into.
Term contracts can provide for termination prior to the end of the contract provided the employer gives the employee a certain amount of notice prior to their termination. For example, a contact can state the employer may fire the employee without cause with a 30 day notice. It is crucial to understand that if an employee contract includes a notice clause, the duration of the term contract is for the notice period only. If a term contract is 5 years long but includes 30 day notice, the term contract is only 30 days long.
Certain term contracts include a good reason clause which states an employee may resign from their job and retain their severance package so long as they have a “good reason” for doing so. What constitutes a good reason will be defined in the employment contract but typically includes provision such as relocating to a new city.
Statute of Limitations Wrongful Termination
Georgia employees have 180 days from the date of the supposed wrongful termination to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and federal employees have 45 days to contact an EEO counselor.
FAQs about Wrongful Termination Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Does the Statute of Limitations for Wrongful Termination Differ for Federal Employees?
Unlike the 180 day statute of limitations for non-federal employees in Georgia, Federal Employees have a statute of limitation of 45 days to begin the process of filing a wrong termination claim.
Can I Still File a Wrongful Termination Case After the Statute of Limitation has Passed?
Unfortunately, after the statute of limitations has passed, a wrongful termination case is no longer eligible to be filed with the EEOC.