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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Sexual harassment in the workplace

Florida workers may be interested to learn that approximately 33 percent of female workers between the age of 18 and 34 have experienced workplace sexual harassment. However, there are many cases where women do not report workplace harassment, which means that the numbers could potentially be higher.

A survey that was published in the March 2015 version of Cosmopolitan showed that 81 percent of the participants had experienced verbal harassment while 44 percent stated that they had been victims of unwanted touching. Even though there are laws that provide some protection against sexual harassment, some women may not report harassment due to the fear of losing their job or being reprimanded.

Addressing sexual harassment issues in the workplace

Florida residents may be familiar with a recent sexual harassment claim made by a former female anchor against the CEO of Fox News. The woman has alleged that she was subject to inappropriate behavior by the CEO. She has also indicated that a former colleague subjected her to objectionable behavior. The company has affirmed its support for these male representatives of the network, noting that it will review the matter.

High-profile sexual harassment cases have occurred in various work disciplines, and the issue is believed to be quite prevalent throughout the nation. Research shows that an estimated 25 percent of women indicate that they have been subjected to harassing behavior in connection with their jobs. However, some experts believe that actual occurrences are much more frequent. Because of two decisions made by the Supreme Court in 1998, many employers have implemented policies to address this issue. However, there is concern that these policies can be lacking in substance.

Determining workplace discrimination in Florida

In a ruling, the Sixth Circuit Court awarded a summary judgement for Ford Motor Company in a case involving a worker passed over for an apprenticeship. The man was passed over because of restrictions placed on him related to an opioid addiction. While the man claimed that he was weaning himself off of the medication, it was ruled by an independent doctor that his records were inconsistent with this claim.

As the man was still taking opioids, he was not allowed to resume unrestricted employment. Although the man was not allowed to take part in the apprenticeship when he first applied, Ford claimed he could take part if he stopped taking the opioid medication. Furthermore, the company allowed him to work in another position, and it had accommodated his restrictions for the past nine years.

How Florida companies stay in compliance with the DOL

The Department of Labor has created a new FMLA notice that employers must hang in plain sight of employees. Employers with posters that contain the same information as the new document can continue to use the ones they already have. This poster must be displayed for workers and applicants even if none of them are currently eligible to receive any leave through FMLA.

If employees are eligible for FMLA, they must be notified of their rights and responsibilities under the act as well as the employer's responsibilities. A copy of the notice must also be provided to employees either through a handbook or some other form of standard correspondence. It also must be written in a language that workers understand if a majority of them do not speak or read in English.

National Park Service under fire over its handling of sexual harassment

When most of us think of the National Park Service, the federal agency tasked with preserving "the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations," we probably envision an almost idyllic workplace with serene settings, exciting duties and enlightened co-workers.  

Unfortunately, a series of recent investigative reports by the Interior Department has revealed this is not quite the case, depicting an agency mired in scandal and largely unresponsive to the serious complaints of its employees. 

Labor Department revises gender discrimination rules for federal contractors

The U.S. Department of Labor made headlines -- and history -- earlier this week when it announced that it will soon be publishing a final rule introducing updates to its interpretation of Executive Order 11246 in a long overdue effort to bring it into line with current laws on workplace discrimination and reflect the reality of the modern workforce.

In today's post, we'll take a closer look at what exactly this entails and what it means going forward.

School officials finally take sexual harassment seriously

Though sexual harassment in the workplace has been taken seriously for some time, school officials were long inclined to ignore it. Often, they just made excuses about kids acting like kids, indicating they didn't think it was "real" harassment.

Thankfully, a landmark case called Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education changed all this when it ended up being seen by the Supreme Court. In that case, a young girl's parents tried to talk to the school officials multiple times when their daughter said she was being harassed at school. They didn't get anywhere, so they went to the courts. Now, schools have to protect children and could be liable for compensation, so officials are starting to take this problem far more seriously.

Workplace retaliation can cause stress, many other problems

There is no place for retaliation in the workplace. But even though this is prohibited by the law, it is a problem that bogs down many companies every year.

Have you been demoted for asserting a right that is protected by federal or state law? Have you been terminated? Has your employer taken some other type of action against you? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to learn more about workplace retaliation and how to protect your rights.

Can simple things be sexual harassment?

Most people know about more drastic cases of sexual harassment and don't have to ask if anything improper has been done -- they know it has. If your boss tells you that he or she would like you to spend the night on a business trip, in exchange for a promotion, it's obvious that this behavior crosses the line.

But what about simple, more innocent behavior? Can it too be sexual harassment? This is where the lines get a bit more blurry.

Discrimination and job-related disabilities

It's illegal to discriminate for many reasons in the Unites States, one of which is on the basis of disability. However, this type of discrimination is, at times, a bit more controversial than others. While it's obvious that discrimination based on race shouldn't be allowed, there are sometimes questions about discrimination based on disabilities.

The issue is that some disabilities may impact a person's actual ability to do the job. For this reason, employers are allowed to take job-related disabilities into account when hiring.

Many times, this is very clear-cut. If you're hiring someone to work in a warehouse and he or she needs to be able to lift 50 pounds, for example, a person with a disability that prevents him or her from lifting anything wouldn't be able to do the job.

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