Interracial Couple Sues Employer: Discrimination Claim in FL

Some of us like to think that racial discrimination is a reality of the past. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth.

Even though it was outlawed decades ago, Florida workplace racial discrimination is still a major problem for many of the state's residents. Sadly, victims of discrimination often hesitate to report the behavior out of fear they might lose their jobs. Even though retaliation is illegal, it still happens far too often.

A prime example exists in the recent case of two Florida employees who were punished after one of them made a claim of racial discrimination. The employees - a Caucasian woman and an African-American man - were dating and were routinely criticized and taunted by their supervisor for being involved in an interracial relationship.

Eventually, the harassment became so severe that the woman filed a formal discrimination complaint against her boss. A week later, she was fired and the man was demoted.

Both the man and the woman brought retaliation lawsuits against their employer. However, the employer sought to have the man's case thrown out since he wasn't the one who filed the actual discrimination complaint.

The court refused to dismiss the man's claims. It reasoned that the man's demotion could reasonably be viewed as punishment for the woman's complaint.

Rights of Discrimination Victims

Workers who make claims of discrimination are protected from retaliation, even if the employer is eventually absolved of the discrimination claim.

Retaliation isn't limited to firing or demotion. Employers commit unlawful retaliation whenever they take adverse actions against an employee as punishment for filing a discrimination complaint. Retaliation can also exist in situations where the employer takes adverse actions in an effort to prevent the employee from filing a complaint.

Under federal law, an employer who is found to have engaged in retaliation or discrimination will be required to return the employee to the same position, as if the illegal conduct never happened. For example, employees who are fired may be reinstated and given back pay. Victims may also be entitled to compensatory damages for losses including job search expenses, medical bills and mental anguish.

If you have been the victim of racial discrimination at work, know that you are not alone. Contact an employment law attorney who can help protect your rights.