September 23, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 266


September 22, 2023

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September 21, 2023

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Georgia’s New Hate Crimes Legislation

Georgia has enacted a hate crimes law, leaving only three states (Arkansas, South Carolina, and Wyoming) without such a law on the books.

Capitalizing on bipartisan momentum on the heels of the controversial deaths of Georgia citizens Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks and protests demanding action against racism and police brutality, Georgia legislators resurrected stalled hate crimes legislation. Lawmakers had passed a hate crimes law in 2000. That law was struck down by Georgia’s Supreme Court on October 25, 2004. It was found to be unconstitutionally vague and so broad it would even apply to a sports fan picking on somebody wearing a rival team’s cap.

The hate crimes bill that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law on June 26, 2020, imposes additional criminal sentencing guidelines on anyone who commits a “hate” crime intentionally based on race, sex, sexual orientation, color, religion, national origin, mental disability, or physical disability.

Under the new law, a person found guilty of committing a hate crime would face an additional six-to-12 months in prison and a fine of up to $5,000 for one of five misdemeanor offenses, and at least two years in jail for a felony offense.

This law also specifically requires law enforcement officers to prepare and submit a written report, called a “Bias Crime Report,” when investigating any crimes that appear to be hate crimes, whether or not an arrest is made. This report will include such information as the complainant’s name and protected status (e.g., race) and whether there is evidence the incident at issue occurred because of the person’s actual or perceived attributes, and the existence of any objects associated with the terrorizing of persons based on those attributes. The fact that an aggressor and victim are of different races or other protected classes, however, should not mean the hate crimes law automatically applies.

While the new hate crimes law does not expressly address workplace discrimination in the private sector, Georgia employers should consider reviewing their anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies, practices, and communications and conducting regular workplace training on anti-harassment, anti-discrimination, and unconscious bias.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2023National Law Review, Volume X, Number 182

About this Author

Emily Borna, Jackson Lewis, business compliance attorney, human resource lawyer

Emily S. Borna is a Principal in the Atlanta, Georgia, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Since completing law school, she has specialized in labor and employment litigation on behalf of management.

Ms. Borna joined Jackson Lewis after a year of private practice in Savannah, Georgia. She specializes in litigating employment law cases in federal and state courts and labor and employment agencies. She has significant experience with assisting employers in meeting the legal and practical challenges posed by federal and state laws...

Mary Claire Smith Labor & Employment Attorney Jackson Lewis Atlanta, GA

Mary Claire Smith is an Associate in the Atlanta, Georgia, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in the defense of labor and workplace matters in federal and state court and before various government agencies.

While attending Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law, Ms. Smith received scholar of merit awards for her achievements in the courses of Secured Transactions and Law Office and Practice Management. She was also a semi-finalist in the Donworth Moot Court Competition and received recognition for her superior...