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09 May 2023

Discussion on Discrimination Cases from US Experience

The USAID Rule of Law Program-invited American judge Peggy Walker and lawyer Kate Conyers of the International Legal Foundation (ILF) met with intern students from Akaki Tsereteli State University Law Faculty at the Kutaisi office of the Georgian Young Lawyer's Association (GYLA) to discuss discrimination cases.

The U.S. Judge Walker, who has over thirty years’ experience as a trial court judge in the State of Georgia, began her long-term shadowing and mentoring of Georgian judges specialized in civil and administrative cases that same day.

The discussion centered around the Utah anti-discrimination act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, childbirth, or pregnancy-related conditions.

The conversation also touched on the issue of retaliation under U.S. law, which is not considered a solid ground for discrimination under Georgian anti-discrimination law. The Utah law declares it illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for opposing discriminatory treatment or filing charges, testifying, or participating in any proceedings, investigation, or hearing alleging discriminatory treatment.

Ms. Conyers, who is conducting long-term mentoring of Legal Aid Service (LAS) lawyers in Western Georgia, discussed the grounds for discrimination cases and procedures under U.S. state and federal law regulations. She also provided statistical data from 2017 showing that in Utah, most discrimination cases were filed on the grounds of retaliation (500), followed by gender (400), disability (300), age (200), religion (50), and equal pay (10).

At the meeting with students, Judge Walker discussed the high standards of integrity and professional ethics required of lawyers and judges. She reminded students of the challenges of the legal profession and encouraged them to choose the right path, rather than the easy one, to earn the respect and trust of Georgian society.

The participants were inspired by the discussion and decided to attend an upcoming Batumi City Court hearing in a discrimination case in which the claimant is represented by Darina Saldadze, Chair of GYLA’s Kutaisi Office. Judge Walker and the students agreed to continue their discussion after the court hearing and to explore the approach of lawyers in discrimination cases.


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