Business Law Insights

MSPB Moment: Whistleblower Appeals & Hostile Work Environment

Posted on: January 10th, 2017

Tommie G. Savage, a Contract Specialist with the U. S. Army Engineer and Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, reported what she believed to be illegal and improper contracting activities beginning in late 2006.  Her concerns were validated by a subsequent audit in 2007.  In 2008, she made additional disclosures about alleged violations of the Federal Acquisition regulations.  In 2009, she filed an EEO complaint for hostile work environment. She was terminated for AWOL, excessive absences, and unavailability to report for duty in 2009, and filed an EEO complaint.  In 2011, the Agency issued a final agency decision and she filed a timely appeal.  She requested and received a dismissal without prejudice to file a whistleblowing retaliation complaint pursuant to the Whistleblowing Protection Act (WPA) with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), and included a claim of hostile work environment.

The Merit Systems Protection Board held that “the creation of a hostile work environment is itself a personnel action for purposes of the WPA.”  Savage v. Dept. of the Army, 122 MSPR 612 , ¶ 23 (2015).

MSPB attorneys of Kitchens, New, Cleghorn LLC can help your case before the Merit Systems Protection Board. Contact us today.


Welcoming Jamie Woodard, Esq.

Posted on: August 10th, 2016

The Law Firm of Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC is pleased to announce the addition of Mr. Jamie Woodard to our firm as an Of counsel attorney.

Woodard, Jamie

Jamie’s practice focuses on matters in the business litigation and intellectual property spaces, but he is a trial lawyer at heart.  Jamie’s cases run the gamut from whistleblower investigations to patent infringement lawsuits.  A large amount of Jamie’s experience over the last 10 years has been in the Intellectual Property space, as well as Employment and Fiduciary Law.

Jamie graduated summa cum laude from Mercer University in 2000, with a degree in Political Science as well as one in Communication & Theater Arts. In 2003, he graduated cum laude from Mercer Law School where he was both an editor of the Law Review and a member of the Moot Court Board.  Jamie began practicing law in Atlanta in 2003 at Swift, Currie, McGhee & Hiers, LLP, and later joined Wellborn & Wallace, LLC becoming a named partner in Wellborn, Wallace & Woodard, LLC in 2008.

Jamie is a native of Waycross, Georgia, and a leader in Atlanta’s LGBTQ community.  Since 2013, Jamie has provided volunteer governmental affairs work with the Trevor Project, a national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth aged 13-24.  Jamie is also a member of the Georgia Equality committee on legislative officials and judicial nominees where he assists Georgia Equality in making recommendations as to endorsements of legislative candidates and judicial nominees/candidates.  Since 2005, Jamie has volunteered with the Georgia Intrastate Moot Court Competition.

Jamie is an avid reader, a self-described “political junkie” and a “geek of all trades”. He says that he is “full of useless trivia” and enjoys cooking and being out on the water.

Jamie came to Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC “because I knew my clients would be supported here, and that I would have the freedom to expand my business.” Jamie’s experience will complement and expand Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s capacity to provide quality business and personal legal services to our clients and the broader Atlanta community.

Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC’s practice areas also include business and corporate law, employment law, and family law including LGBT legal services.

Please join us in welcoming Jamie to our Kitchens New Cleghorn, LLC team.


Meet Our Legal Assistant, Wanda Melton | Atlanta Divorce Law Firm

Posted on: June 8th, 2015

Atlanta Gay Divorce AttorneyOur Atlanta divorce law firm hires only the most talented and competent individuals. We often get compliments on our attorneys and their superior legal work, but we also get compliments on our amazing support staff. Wanda Melton, our legal assistant, is someone that our clients absolutely LOVE. She is professional, personable and she does an amazing job at supporting our team. We thought it was time that those of you who don’t know her get a chance to meet her.

Wanda, how long have you been at KNC?

Wanda: I’ve been here for 4 years and a week!

Tell us a bit about your family.

I’m the proud “Grammy” of two little girls – ages 2 and 9. They are so much sweeter than their mothers – my daughters!!

Where are you from?

I’m a North Carolina native and still have older family there – East of Raleigh. My parents brought me to GA in 1967 (I was a mere babe.)

Where did you get your education?

I have a degree in Education from Brenau University and a Paralegal Certificate from Clayton State University.

What type of work have you done in the past?

I’ve been an administrative/executive assistant for most of my career. I “retired” as an AT&T employee in 2007. I was officially an AT&T employee for 6 weeks after the AT&T /Bellsouth merger. I was at Bellsouth for a little over 18 years. While there, I worked in Treasury, Accounting, Mergers & Acquisitions and Legal departments.

In the interval between BellSouth and KNC, I worked at Emory University and GulfStream Aerospace in Savannah.

What is the best part about working at KNC?

I really enjoy the interaction with our clients – something I never did at BLS. Also, it’s good to know that we (the team) are really helping folks with difficult problems that greatly impact their lives.

What do you like most about the KNC clients?

I enjoy being able to contribute to the resolution of serious problems. Folks are genuinely grateful for the assistance. That’s a very gratifying thing to experience on a daily basis.

What do you like most about the KNC staff?
I have the utmost respect for the intelligence and capabilities of the attorneys. It’s a pleasure to work with such exemplary people.

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Financial Impact of Divorce on Women| Atlanta Divorce Attorneys

Posted on: March 19th, 2015

Credit CardsAs Atlanta divorce attorneys, we get to assist many women in their divorce cases. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have many different types of living and working arrangements. We work to help them come up with fair and equitable settlements so that they can move forward in a positive direction at the end of it all. But sometimes, especially in the area of finances, divorce can have a significant negative impact on the lives of women.

According to a recent NBC News Feature, women can be at a severe financial disadvantage after divorce for a variety of reasons. Among them are lack of education, childcare expenses, relying on an unreliable ex-spouse to meet child support and debt servicing obligations, and stay at home moms spending too much time outside the workforce when they need to return after a divorce. In addition to these problems, divorce sometimes impacts a person’s credit rating.

How can women prevent such negative consequences? First, check out 5 Things to Consider Before Filing for a Divorce. Then, try to get as much education as you can before you file. Update your resume and find employment before you are in a crisis mode. If you can’t work, try to work as a volunteer so that you will have some recent work experience to put on your resume. Pay any outstanding bills to clean up your credit and start to build your support network with friends and family. Then, call us and set up an appointment for a consultation so we can make a plan to minimize risk and maximize your life, post-divorce.


Is Porn Preventing Marriage? | Atlanta Law Firm

Posted on: March 10th, 2015

Atlanta Divorce AttorneysOur Atlanta law firm does a variety of work including divorce, adoptions, contracts, business and protections for same-sex couples. Many people have heard how painful divorce can be and how the emotional upheaval of the changes that ending a marriage can bring. As a result, some decide not to marry in order to avoid the potential emotional and financial problems. That’s why it surprised us to read that a team of researchers determined that the rise of free Internet pornography is causing the decline in the percentage of young adult males who are married, and may even be contributing to the trend.

Michael Malcolm, an associate professor of economics at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, told an interviewer that he believes this study was a convincing argument. “Pornography increases the alternatives for sexual gratification.”

In addition to the porn meeting a sexual need, people are finding that they can stay home and have their social needs met through video games and virtual works can provide a false sense of gratification that sometimes leads to isolation and a lack of support system.

The problem is being studied by psychologists and sociologists. The consensus is that although the internet is supposed to serve us by making our lives more efficient, it is becoming the very thing that is preventing us from entering into a wide variety of social contracts, including marriage.


Our Atlanta Law Firm Team – Meet Will Davis

Posted on: March 4th, 2015

In our Atlanta law firm, we have the most dedicated professionals to serve our clients. WillDavisWe want to introduce you to the newest member of our staff, attorney Will Davis.

Will, where are you from?

I grew up in Acworth, GA.  I have more or less been a resident of Cobb County for my whole life. I now live in Marietta near the historic Marietta Square, and I enjoy spending a lot of my free time on the Square. All of my family lives somewhere in Cobb County and I enjoy being in close proximity to my nieces, sister, and parents.

Do you have any hobbies or interests?

I enjoy all kinds of entertainment, including television, movies, and theatre. I’m a bit of a trivia fanatic, and I record and watch Jeopardy every night. I love the beach and try to make it there several times a year. I am a huge college football fan, cheering on the Bulldogs and Rebels (hopefully from Athens or Oxford) every weekend in the fall.

What type of work have you done in the past what are your legal specialties?

I began my work as an attorney with the Georgia Legal Services Program (GLSP) in Albany where I practiced in  different civil law areas including family law, wills, housing law, administrative law, and public benefits law. Specifically at GLSP, I provided legal assistance to Spanish-speaking residents of Southwest Georgia. Following my time at GLSP, I worked for a small firm in Marietta where I focused on representing clients in family law and criminal defense matters. At Kitchens New Cleghorn (KNC), I focus on all aspects of family law, wills, and general civil/corporate litigation.

Tell us about your education.

I received my B.A. in Spanish from the University of Georgia in 2006, and I received my Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 2009.

What are you looking most forward to in working at KNC?

I am looking forward to working primarily in the family law arena and learning about new aspects of the law as it relates to LGBT clients. KNC is a respected firm in all areas of practice, and I’m excited to work with and learn from Randy, Jeff, and Joyce.


Time to put politics aside and reform immigration

Posted on: September 6th, 2013

It is rare for Georgia businesses — large and small, urban and rural — to agree on much of anything. But they do agree that there is an urgent need for Congress to put politics aside and move forward with reforming America’s immigration laws.

Widespread frustration with the current immigration system and the need for reform was on display last week at the Atlanta Rotary Club, where Atlanta’s business community and Georgia’s agriculture community gathered to listen to former governors Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania and Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Rendell, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Barbour, the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, have joined forces as two of the co-chairs of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Immigration.

“Nothing is worse for America than the status quo,” Gov. Barbour told the Rotary Club. “We’ve got a system that’s broken. We need to do something about it for our economy, for our future.” Georgia Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, who was in the audience, recently expressed similar frustrations on behalf of Georgia’s$71 billion agriculture industry — if Congress “fails to act,” Duvall wrote, “the American people will keep the same flawed immigration policy we have right now. Nobody will be happy with that.”

Amazingly enough, on the same day Rendell and Barbour appeared before the Rotary Club, the incoming chairman of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, Delta CEO Richard Anderson, met with the editorial board of Atlanta Business Chronicle to express the view that the current immigration system was hurting Georgia businesses, according to reports of the exchange.

And earlier this year, Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent told an interviewer, “I see a general consensus that there is a need for a 21st century immigration policy in the United States. I truly hope that this opportunity will be realized.”

So what is standing in the way of progress when the interest of Fortune 100 companies, like Coca-Cola and Delta, are the same as the interest of a farmer in Hawkinsville or chicken processor in Ellijay?

Not surprisingly, politics.

Gov. Rendell explained that there are more than enough votes in Congress right now to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill — a bill that would provide Georgia businesses with the reliable and capable workforce they need. But unfortunately, House Republicans, including members of Georgia’s congressional delegation, fear that any support for a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally today would invite charges of supporting “amnesty” and a potential primary challenge in 2014.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, the president has said that he won’t sign a bill that doesn’t include a path to citizenship for those 11 million.

For the sake of Georgia’s economy, Congress — led by the state’s delegation — needs to reach a deal to make it easier to hire much-needed scientists and engineers, to keep talented students who graduate from Georgia’s colleges and universities in the state where they can launch startups and create jobs, and to make it possible for the 11 million to stay here legally, regardless of whether there is a path to citizenship.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, Georgia is home to approximately 440,000 of those 11 million, many of whom are part of and contribute to Georgia’s “Essential Economy,” which a recent report byGeorgia Tech’s Innovation Services Group defined as the goods and services that are essential to our way of life, that have to be produced right here in Georgia and that, as of 2010, contributed $49 billion to the state’s economy. The Essential Economy workforce includes hotel, restaurant and construction workers, landscapers and nursing home attendants, and those who harvest crops, pick produce and drive the state’s poultry industry.

Georgia has a long history of finding common ground on divisive issues, especially when it is in the best interest of the state’s economy. We are at such a crossroads with immigration reform and there is a great opportunity for Georgia’s congressional delegation to harness the emerging consensus from across the state’s business community to get something done in Washington.

Stein, who served as legislative director and general counsel for Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., leads the government affairs practice at Kitchens New Cleghorn LLC and is a lecturer at the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at Georgia Tech.

Resource:

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2013/08/30/time-to-put-politics-aside-and-reform.html?page=all


Can Business Expect More Progress on Immigration Reform

Posted on: July 23rd, 2013
Will Immigration Reform Move in the House? Not Surprisingly, the Answer has Everything to Do with Politics

Businesses of all sizes – and many businesses in Georgia – are generally supportive of comprehensive immigration reform moving through Congress today because it will make it easier to hire much needed workers.  Yet despite the support of the business community and bolstered border security provisions – both of which helped attract 14 Republican votes in the Senate – prospects for the bill’s passage in the Republican-controlled House this fall remain dim.

Why is that the case?

To get to that answer, we should start with why Congress took up immigration reform in the first place, which according to a recent Gallup poll was 11th in a ranking of issues voters thought were important.

Nevertheless, Democrats put immigration reform at the top of the agenda in 2013.  Why?  Well to a large degree because of the Hispanic vote, which went overwhelmingly for the President and his party in 2012.  According to Pew, Latinos voted for Democrats by a margin of 71% to 27% this last election cycle, a percentage similar to the support President Clinton received in 1992.  But Latinos were only 2% of the electorate in 1992.  By 2012, that percentage grew to 10% and is expected to double by 2030.

Some Republicans looked at those percentages and recognized that they might never win another national election if they continue to lose the Hispanic vote by such large margins.  So some of the Senate’s most conservative members joined forces with Democrats to support the Senate’s immigration reform bill.

But in the House, many Republicans not only don’t need the Hispanic vote to win re-election, supporting a path to citizenship for those here illegally today – or anything that could be characterized as “amnesty” – would be a huge political liability and could invite a primary challenge.

So what has to change for the House to move on immigration reform this fall? Either Republicans looking out for the future of the party’s national prospects are able to convince enough House Republicans to support a bill, which might not be at odds with their constituents back home.  Or the Speaker of the House John Boehner will have to pass a bill with a majority of Democratic votes in the interest of the national party.  The former probably would have happened by now if it was going to happen and the latter might very well cost Boehner his speakership.

So if political calculations put immigration reform on the agenda in the first place, political calculations will also likely determine the bill’s fate.  And right now, the politics of immigration reform for many House Republicans looks a lot different than the politics of immigration reform for the broader Republican Party and certainly the politics of the Democratic Party.


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