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Home Practice Areas: Corporate/Employment Matters

O’Dell and O’Neal assist business, small and large in a variety of ways.

General corporate matters can include:

  • Forming, amending and dissolving corporations, partnerships or limited liability companies.
  • Providing legal assistance and guidance in buy-sell agreements, new employment agreements and workplace policies.
  • Reviewing and assisting with contracts involving clients, vendors and suppliers.
  • Assisting in disputes or collection efforts against clients or defending against collection efforts from vendors and suppliers.

The goal of representation in general corporation matters is to provide the proper guidance and expertise in allowing the client to fulfill their objectives, but protect themselves legally.

Investor/Shareholder Disputes

Unfortunately, businesses and partnerships begun with the best of intentions can sour.  Investors, owners and shareholders may face a situation whereby other investors, managers or shareholders of the company seem to be running the business for their personal benefit or are violating operating and shareholder agreements.  On the other hand, managers and executives may be struggling to run the enterprise to the best of their ability, but face false accusations of mismanagement due to dwindling profits.  These legal disputes often involve proceedings known as “derivative” actions.  In order to be valid, these actions must follow very specific statutory procedures.  Often times, the right legal approach and advice can help avoid or shorten the litigation process.

O’Dell & O’Neal has experience and has assisted individuals and companies in these very situations.  Prior clients have included business brokers, accountants and real estate partnerships.  In each instance, the overall strategy and outcome was to preserve value for the client and protect the client’s or company’s ability to work and continue in their profession.

Employment Matters

The relationship between employees and employers can create variety of legal issues and problems.   The most common situations over which companies and employees seek legal services arise during the termination or departure of employees.  These issues can include enforcement of employment contracts such as covenants not to compete or solicit, claims of discrimination and/or wrongful termination or claims of a hostile work environment.

The enforceability of covenants not to compete is the most common source of legal questions following separation from employment.  Quite often, employees and employers are simply seeking legal clarity on what sorts of actions can or cannot be taken under a particular covenant not to compete or solicit.  Other times, an employee or company is seeking a legal opinion as to whether a covenant not to compete can be enforced because it appears overbroad or overreaching as to the duration, geographic scope and/or defined areas of competition.  When a dispute arises over a covenant not to compete, employees and companies need to act fast.  Lawsuits related to covenants not to compete are typically won or lost at the pleading phase by obtaining or avoiding a temporary restraining order and injunction.

O’Dell and O’Neal has been involved on both sides of these disputes.  The firm has been called upon to provide legal memorandums outlining the scope and enforceability of covenants not to compete.  In addition, the firm has extensive experience in litigating on behalf of both companies and employees over contractual covenants not to compete.

Employment discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination claims are especially difficult in the State of Georgia.  These claims are often governed by a mix of Federal laws, including the following:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)

  • This law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate applicants’ and employees’ sincerely held religious practices, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act

  • This law amended Title VII to make it illegal to discriminate against a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)

  • This law makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women if they perform equal work in the same workplace. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)

  • This law protects people who are 40 or older from discrimination because of age. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

  • This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the private sector and in state and local governments. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

Sections 102 and 103 of the Civil Rights Act of 1991

  • Among other things, this law amends Title VII and the ADA to permit jury trials and compensatory and punitive damage awards in intentional discrimination cases.

Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • This law makes it illegal to discriminate against a qualified person with a disability in the federal government. The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit. The law also requires that employers reasonably accommodate the known physical or mental limitations of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability who is an applicant or employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)

  • This law makes it illegal to discriminate against employees or applicants because of genetic information. Genetic information includes information about an individual’s genetic tests and the genetic tests of an individual’s family members, as well as information about any disease, disorder or condition of an individual’s family members (i.e. an individual’s family medical history). The law also makes it illegal to retaliate against a person because the person complained about discrimination, filed a charge of discrimination, or participated in an employment discrimination investigation or lawsuit.

In addition to these Federal laws, Georgia state law provides protections against workplace harassment, discrimination and misconduct even though Georgia is known as an “at will” employment state.  The prosecution or defense of employment discrimination claims requires a aggressive approach in the assertion and protection of employment rights.