Remote workers, just like onsite workers, have a number of employee rights protections. Though remote work and onsite work have significant differences, there are also similar concerns. Sexual harassment can happen remotely, for instance, via offensive images shared without consent. Disabled employees might need specific equipment to work at full capacity from home. Religious employees might need reasonable accommodations for their daily prayers. This blog post will examine some of the concerns vis-à-vis remote work and employment law. If you would like answers or guidance, contact an Atlanta employment rights attorney as soon as possible, and we will orient you with our over three decades of experience.
General Considerations Affecting Remote Workers across State Lines
Remote work across state lines can pose unique challenges, given the interactions between the laws of different states. The law might be very different in the state where the employee resides versus the state where the employer is headquartered. Modern business structures result in additional complications. A New Jersey district court case in 2023 involved a plaintiff employee in Hew Hampshire, the plaintiff’s supervisor in Utah, and a defendant company incorporated in Delaware but headquartered in New Jersey.
Employment laws may differ in several key areas, such as:
- Wage and hour laws
- Paid and unpaid family, medical, and sick leave
- Workers’ compensation
- Unemployment insurance
As a result of differences like these, difficult-to-parse situations may arise. For example, let’s suppose an employee residing in Oregon is hired to work remotely by a California employer, then works for nine hours on four consecutive days. In California, employers are required by state law to pay overtime when an employee works more than eight hours in a single day. By contrast, in Oregon, the employee must work over 40 hours in a week to qualify for overtime pay. Which state law can therefore have a big impact, and this depends on the decision of a court given choice of law principles.
What Does Georgia and Federal Law Say about Remote Workers?
Notably, Georgia does not specifically regulate remote work, as it isn’t specified in the Labor Code. There exists a statewide policy on telework, but this is limited to employees of the Executive Branch of Georgia’s state government.
Because of the lack of clear rules focusing specifically on remote work, when either a company is registered in Georgia or an employee resides in Georgia while working remotely in another state, courts will apply the most suitable existing laws, so long as these do not contradict the nature and features of remote work.
Georgia state law offers remote workers several protections. As an example, in Georgia law, remote workers are entitled to workers’ compensation if the business has more than three employees and the injury occurred within the scope of the worker’s employment.
Additionally, Georgia-related employees are also covered by federal law. Applying to companies of more than 15 employees, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employee discrimination due to race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.