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“Don’t Tread On Me”

 Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP, recently adorned the façade of its offices with a proud display of the U.S. Flag, the Georgia Flag, and the Gadsden Flag. While most members of our community are acquainted with all three banners, many do not know the precise history and meaning of the Gadsden Flag.


The Gadsden Flag depicts a coiled rattlesnake with thirteen rattles against a yellow background with the motto: "Don't Tread on Me". It was first commissioned by Navy Colonel Christopher Gadsden in 1775 who delivered it as a gift to Commodore Esek Hopkins, the Commander of the Continental Navy for the American colonies in the Revolutionary War. Shortly thereafter the flag flew on the mainmast during the Continental Navy's first mission against the British fleet, and it remained as the most prominent flag of the American colonies until the formal adoption of the Stars and Stripes.


As noted by one historical observer, "since the Revolution, the flag has been reintroduced as a symbol of American patriotism, disagreement with Government, or support for civil liberties." Its display at Flint, Connolly & Walker invokes our empathy with these concerns.

The rattlesnake itself was often used as a symbol of the American colonies during the Revolutionary era; however, its meaning was most succinctly described in an essay written by Benjamin Franklin – under the pseudonym of "the American Guesser" – in 1775:

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748 Hits

Georgia employers must act to protect themselves against allegations of workplace discrimination

 It is important for Georgia business owners to be familiar with federal employment regulations such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, The Age Discrimination Act of 1967, and Title I of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990.


Although business owners and managers may be familiar with the general requirements of these laws, which were originally designed under the auspices of limiting discrimination in the workplace, it is important to effectively institute workplace policies and procedures to avoid encountering unintended liabilities arising out of these and other state and federal regulations.


1. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Created in 1965, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the arm of the federal government primarily responsible for enforcing anti-discrimination laws and regulations in the workplace. Generally speaking, any employer who employees fifteen (15) or more employees is subject to EEOC enforcement.

The EEOC investigates allegations of discrimination by employees, and in certain instances it may institute civil proceedings and other sanctions against employers that it accuses of violating EEOC enforced laws or policy. In other instances, the EEOC may permit individual employees and their attorneys to seek damages from their employers – or former employers – by filing private lawsuits directly against the employer for alleged acts of discrimination.

2. Anti-Discrimination Policies in the Workplace

In order to avoid being subject to damaging allegations of workplace discrimination, it is important that employers adopt policies and procedures to deter discriminatory conduct within their business.

To avoid such liability, an employer must first be conscious of what types of conduct are prohibited. The EEOC prohibits discrimination based upon a person's race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. It is also prohibits discrimination against individuals who have complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

It is critical that all employers adopt and implement policies prohibiting discriminatory conduct. A company should conduct regular training of its managers and employees concerning their rights and obligations arising under anti-discrimination laws and the remedies that are available to any individual who believes they have been subjected to discrimination in the workplace. Likewise, an employer is well-advised to adopt internal procedures by which employees may report alleged acts of discrimination to management and/or ownership, and have those allegations properly investigated and addressed.

3. The Employee Handbook

As a general rule, an Employee Handbook is an important tool for employers to establish requirements, privileges, and expectations of workplace conduct for their employees. It is vital for any employer to have a well-drafted employee handbook to confront a host of potential work-related liabilities that can arise between employers and employees.

In the context of establishing EEOC compliant anti-discrimination policies, it is critical for owners and management to promulgate Employee Handbooks which advise managers and employees about a company's anti-discrimination policies and the remedies available to employees who believe they have been subjected to improper treatment. These handbooks operate as an indispensible first line of defense for any employer who is faced with an EEOC investigation.

Any Georgia business owner who does not already utilize a professionally drafted employee handbook is well-advised to consult with a qualified attorney to ensure that his or her company has exercised all available means to protect itself against EEOC scrutiny and charges of discrimination.

David L. Walker, Jr., is a partner in the law firm of Flint, Connolly & Walker, LLP in Canton, Georgia, where he represents businesses and individuals in various legal matters.
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DUI Considerations

"First the man takes a drink, Then the drink takes a drink, Then the drink takes the man."

EDWARD R. SILL

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More on the subject of “Independent Contractors vs. Employees?” (using FLSA criteria)

 My previous article dealt with the standards used by the Internal Revenue Service at making a determination about the status of a worker as an employee versus an independent contractor. These standards are not, however, the only ones that apply to this critical question. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also affects all employers and compliance with this sweeping law is essential to every employer.

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1490 Hits

Independent contractor vs. employee?

 For the unwary business owner, the terms "independent contractor" and "employee" may seem to be a question of whether the business owner or manager elects to issue a W-2 or 1099 to the worker in question. However, these words represent important distinctions that have been specifically defined by the Internal Revenue Service. A business owner who fails to properly classify its workers can suffer significant penalties and financial detriment.

Whether someone who works for you is an employee or an independent contractor is an important question. The answer determines your liability to pay and withhold Federal income tax, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and Federal unemployment tax. In general, someone who performs services for you is your employee if you can control what will be done and how it will be done.

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796 Hits

Georgia materialmen liens

 It is no secret that the past four years have been tumultuous, if not devastating, for the construction industry in Georgia. Commercial and residential contractors alike have suffered tremendous losses as the nationwide economic collapse brought projects to a literal halt across the State.

Recently, however, I have begun to hear encouraging news from several of my clients who work in the construction industry, who tell me that the building market is beginning to show signs of life. Although we are still months, if not years, away from a major recovery, many owners and developers are working hard to breathe life into this previously stagnate industry.

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872 Hits

Primary Issues in Divorce

Divorce is and should be a difficult decision. But, too often this difficulty has led many divorcing spouses to try to move through the process as fast as possible without properly considering all of the issues and pitfalls that must be addressed. The process to end a marriage is much more difficult than the one that began it. If divorce is where you must go, then you must carefully consider, among other things:

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510 Hits

Letter to the Editor

 Published in the Cherokee Tribune, November 27, 2010

BUSINESS OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES MUST CONSIDER THE RAMIFICATIONS OF NEWLY ENACTED HB 173

On November 2, 2010 a political sea change swept the nation as voters resoundingly rejected the brand of "hope and change" that had been previously marketed by their political representatives. While most election coverage focused on the Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives and that party's dominance in Georgia's state elections, relatively little attention was paid to the revolutionary changes in the laws that govern non-compete, non-disclosure, and non-solicitation (collectively referred to as "restrictive covenants") provisions in Georgia employment contracts; however, a firm understanding of the new laws is critical for all Georgia business owners and employees.

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566 Hits