AnnaMarie Houlis
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Here's everything you need to know about the right-to-work law, at-will employment and these mean in Georgia.

What is right to work?

The right-to-work law, which is also known as the Workplace Freedom or Workplace Choice law, is a law that grants workers the right to choose whether or not they'd like to join a union in their workplace. Likewise, it also makes it optional for workers already in unionized workplaces to pay union dues and other membership fees that are required for union representation (whether they're involved in the union or not).

What is at-will employment?

Every state with the exception of Montana is an at-will employment state. Under the at-will employment policy, either the employer or the employee can terminate employment at any time for any reason (unless it's illegal and proven wrongful termination, which is hard to do) without consequence — unless the employee has a contract or a union agreement that states otherwise.

Is Georgia a right to work state?

Georgia is, in fact, a right-to-work state. Because Georgia is a right-to-work state, it is illegal for an employer and a union to have a contract that requires each employee to join said union. The contract cannot require an employee to pay dues to the union, either.

The law reads: "It shall be unlawful for any person, acting alone or in concert with one or more other persons, to compel or attempt to compel any person to join or refrain from joining any labor organization or to strike or refrain from striking against his will by any threatened or actual interference with his person, immediate family or physical property or by any threatened or actual interference with the pursuit of lawful employment by such person or by his immediate family.

This means that "no individual shall be required as a condition of employment or continuance of employment to be or remain a member or an affiliate of a labor organization or to resign from or to refrain from membership in or affiliation with a labor organization." And, in the same vein, "no individual shall be required as a condition of employment or continuance of employment to pay any fee, assessment or other sum of money whatsoever to a labor organization."

Can you be fired for any reason in Georgia?

Georgia is an at-will state, which means that you can be fired for any just reason at any time. While proving wrongful termination isn't always an easy feat, your employer can only fire you for legal reasons.

What are important Georgia labor laws?

Here are three important labor laws in Georgia of which you should be aware.

1. The Age Discrimination Act

The Age Discrimination Act applies to all private employers, regardless of size, in Georgia. It prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of age (between 40 and 70 years old) unless there are reasonable demands of the job that are in question due to age.

The law also permits employers to implement a retirement policy or system. But if a retirement or insurance benefit program prohibits employment when an employee reaches a certain age (and essentially evades the Age Discrimination Act), then employees do indeed have the authority to waive their participation in the implemented program as a condition of employment.

2. The Georgia Equal Employment for Persons With Disabilities Code

Unlike many other states across the country, Georgia does not actually have an overarching anti-discrimination law that covers several protected classes. Rather, Georgia has only a few anti-discrimination statutes that cover specific areas, such as the aforementioned Age Discrimination Act and a law that ensures equal employment for those with disabilities.

The Georgia Equal Employment for Persons With Disabilities Code applies to employers with 15 or more employees. It prohibits the retaliation against an individual for standing up against unlawful discrimination, such as filing a charge or participating in an investigation or hearing regarding the unlawful discrimination.

3. Equal Pay Act

Georgia’s Equal Pay Act requires all private employers with 10 or more employees in the state to pay their employees of the opposite sex equal wages for equal work. This statute applies all public employers and private employers with 10 or more employees.

What are some resources for Georgia employees?

To learn more about employment laws in Georgia, check out these resources:

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.