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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Types of sexual harassment in a Florida workplace

Although sexual harassment is illegal in workplaces in Florida and around the country, it is not uncommon. For example, a 2015 Cosmopolitan survey with more than 2,230 female participants found that 1 in 3 women reported experiencing sexual harassment at work at least once in their lives. Even though it is prevalent, some individuals may not be aware of what sexual harassment actually is.

Sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Department of Labor recognizes two forms of sexual harassment, and they are quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo occurs when an employee is required to submit to sexual harassment in order to get a promotion, an assignment or even keep his or her job. A hostile work environment, on the other hand, occurs when incidents of sexual harassment make a workplace intimidating or abusive.

Steps to take when an employer denies overtime pay

Florida has laws in place to ensure employees who do not receive an annual salary receive overtime when due. In Florida, overtime comes into effect when an employee works more than 40 hours in a single week, which counts as seven consecutive days. 

Although many employees end up qualifying for overtime pay, which is a worker's hourly wage multiplied by 1.5, many employers do not offer it. Some employers try to stiff workers entirely while others simply pay employees the standard wage. 

Alleged employee crimes could create hostile work environment

Florida should tread carefully when made aware of criminal accusations against an employee, especially when it involves co-workers. Taking a side could inflict a hostile work environment on one or more employees. A federal appeals court has sent a case illustrating this situation back to the trial court that originally heard the matter.

The issue arose when a female employee of a correctional facility accused a co-worker of raping her outside of work. Before this incident, other female co-workers had lodged complaints at work regarding his conduct. The employer never took any disciplinary action against him about those reports but did place him on administrative leave while a criminal investigation was underway for another rape accusation.

What to do when your employer implements racist policies

Very few employers openly maintain racially discriminatory policies on the books. Most have adapted to the demands of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 and strive towards a workplace free from racism. Unfortunately, however, this law did not singlehandedly solve racism on the job. Discrimination simply takes on more insidious forms and hides behind pretenses of professionalism.

According to the New York Daily News, one employee of Banana Republic recently encountered such casual racism at work when she was told that she could not wear her hair in braids. There are a few things you should do if you encounter this or any other type of racial discrimination in the workplace.

Home Depot faces discrimination lawsuit

On Sept. 28, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against Home Depot on behalf of an employee it says was terminated after an emergency related to a disability. As a general rule, employers in Florida and around the country must reasonably accommodate workers who have a disability. According to the EEOC lawsuit, Home Depot failed to accommodate a disabled woman before terminating her. She suffered from IBS and fibromyalgia.

The suit is alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and it was filed after the EEOC and the company couldn't come to a resolution out of court. The EEOC is asking for full back pay in addition to other compensatory and punitive damages for the employee. It is also asking that steps be taken to ensure that Home Depot doesn't take similar actions in the future.

Are you not getting paid for working off the clock?

Does your boss ever ask you to work off the clock? If so, you might not be getting the pay you actually deserve. This tactic is used by some business owners and managers to save money and cheat workers out of their rightful wages. You might be ambitious and want to be a team player, or maybe you want to avoid conflict, but you should be wary if your supervisor requests you to work without payment or proper compensation for overtime. 

What exactly does working off the clock mean? What should you do if your boss is asking you to do this? Here are some ideas.

Sixth Circuit remands age discrimination case to district court

In some cases, Florida employees who are terminated after taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act may find that they are facing discrimination for other reasons besides retaliation for the time off. A Tennessee court will be hearing a case involving a home economics teacher who was let go during FMLA leave. The teacher said the school violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and was also guilty of age discrimination.

The teacher based this on an email received from the principal as well as comments the principal made to others about the teacher's health. The teacher had a hip injury, and the principal's email said that the teacher might be unable to teach using a wheelchair based on the difficulty another employee had.

Researchers identify persistent hiring discrimination by race

A recent analysis of hiring studies that went back to 1989 revealed ongoing discrimination among employers throughout Florida and the rest of the U.S. The researchers looked at 28 studies that compared the number of job interview callbacks to the number of applicants by race. They concluded that hiring discrimination against blacks had not eased in 25 years while Latinos had only made some modest gains with callback figures.

After making adjustments for different methodology among the studies as well as other factors like gender and education, the researchers calculated that whites received calls for interviews 36 percent more often than black applicants. The callback rate for Latinos was 24 percent lower compared to whites.

Employers break law when retaliating against whistleblowers

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act extends specific legal protections to employees in Florida who complain about wrongdoing at their places of employment. Many types of negative actions by employers meant to punish whistleblowers potentially qualify as retaliation, including termination, demotion, harassment, constructive discharge and outing.

Constructive discharge represents a tactic in which an employer attempts to avoid outright termination by pressuring an employee to resign. The law recognizes that an employer might make working conditions so unpleasant that a reasonable person would choose to leave. Another legal standard for constructive discharge involves the threat of imminent job loss, which makes the employee leave.

Three examples of LGBT discrimination and harassment at work

Despite increasing acceptance and protections, many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals still experience discrimination and harassment in the workplace. No matter what your sexual orientation or gender identity is, you deserve fair and respectful treatment. Whenever someone suffers mistreatment for their sexual orientation or gender presentation, it is troubling and disturbing. 

Discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and gender identity can take many forms. These are all examples of LGBT discrimination in Florida workplaces noted in a report from the Williams Institute.

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