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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Why people don't report sexual harassment

Many Florida residents who have been sexual harassment victim will not speak out for months or even years. There are several reasons why the victims of workplace sexual harassment often take lengthy periods of time before they report the harassment, including fears of losing their jobs, being in unequal power relationships with the perpetrators, concerns that others won't believe them and threats that have been made against them.

The cases involving Roger Ailes, the former CEO of Fox News, who has been accused by multiple women who worked for the company of sexually harassing them, is illustrative. The allegations led to his resignation after serving for 20 years in the role of CEO. Many of the women endured harassment from Ailes for years, and they are only now coming forward with their stories.

Study looks at sexual harassment in advertising

Florida women may experience workplace sexual harassment regardless of their occupations. A study released on Aug. 11 showed that women who work in advertising might be particularly vulnerable to workplace sexual harassment. In a summary of its research findings, industry trade group 4A said that over 50 percent of the female advertising workers it surveyed said that they had been sexually harassed.

Researchers who conducted the study asked approximately 400 female advertising employees to answer questions about workplace sexual harassment. More than 75 percent of the women who were surveyed worked in middle and senior management. While half of the women said that they had experienced some sexual harassment on the job, one-third said that perceived bias had caused them to be passed over for a job assignment at some point. Forty percent of survey participants said that they were excluded from decision-making processes because of perceived bias.

How DOE rules impact Florida workers

The U.S. Department of Energy said it was improving protections for whistleblowers after a July report from the Government Accountability Office featured two employees who claimed they were retaliated against. For its report, the GAO studied 87 whistleblower cases and conducted interviews at multiple job sites. It found that the Energy Department rarely held contractors accountable for illegal retaliation even though it had the means to do so.

In the report, the government also disputed claims that the department couldn't enforce the prohibition of retaliation against whistleblowers in nuclear safety cases. The GAO pointed out that the department had taken enforcement actions in the past. In response, the DOE said that it would inform contractors and subcontractors that civil penalties could be enforced against those who engage in retaliation against employees.

Why whistleblower protections can backfire

To a certain generation, Bob Woodward stands out as a respectable whistleblower that brought the Watergate scandal into public view. More recently, Edward Snowden leaked classified information about the NSA to reveal what he considered to be abuses of power.

The fact is, however, that often whistleblowers are not considered heroes and are afraid to speak up because of possible reprisals in the workplace. If you see something wrong, illegal or unethical at work, can you report it without fear of retaliation?

Is wearable tech in the workplace a good idea?

It's no secret: fit, healthy employees are better employees. They are less likely to get sick, have more energy and confidence, have a better attitude and suffer less from stress.

In recent years, large and mid-size companies have jumped on the fitness bandwagon, offering fitness programs and providing incentives for employees to get and remain healthy. Companies today often provide health club or HSA reimbursement, walk challenges, paramedical services, and longer "fitness" lunch breaks which allow for exercise.

Do you know you can take FMLA leave for these reasons?

Work/life balance is important to many in the workplace. And, because of this, many employees take advantage of the benefits of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when there is an extended medical need or emergency.

Many people often associate maternity leave with FMLA, but there are many other-likely unknown-instances that qualify for FMLA leave under federal law.

What exactly is quid pro quo harassment in the workplace?

In all employment situations, employees are expected to perform some type of work in exchange for their paycheck and various company benefits. It is a sort of trade agreement. The employee gets "something for something-which happens to be the Latin translation for Quid Pro Quo.

However, in the workplace, the term "quid pro quo" is normally used to describe a type of sexual harassment in the workplace, when something more than a person's regular job duties are being solicited in order for that employee to be hired or given a career advancement.

This type of behavior not only creates a hostile work environment that can be financially, emotionally and physically harmful-it is also downright illegal.

But the law requires several conditions before an individual can seek legal recourse.

FMLA violation even though leave was granted

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires most employers in Florida and around the country to grant unpaid and job-protected leave to workers in certain situations, but companies may face sanctions for violating the 1993 law even when leave is granted. A federal appeals court ruled on June 28 that a bank worker's rights under the FMLA had been violated because a notice sent to him by his employer while he was taking covered leave did not mention that his job was protected.

Employers are required by the FMLA to send workers who are taking leave for family or medical reasons a notice outlining their rights under the law, and this notice must contain language indicating that the worker will either be given their original job or an equivalent job upon their return. The bank worker was granted time off to address substance abuse and mental health issues, but the rights and responsibilities notice sent to him did not indicate that he would be able to return to his old job once his treatment was complete.

Tracking and reporting FMLA leave

For some Florida businesses, tracking an employee who is on leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act can be difficult. However, there are some software solutions that may be available to help track which employees are eligible for FMLA leave.

In order for an employee to be eligible for FMLA leave, the employee must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months and a minimum of 1,250 hours. Keeping track of how many hours employees have worked can be difficult if they telecommute or work flexible schedules. Additionally, some employees may become eligible for short-term disability with different requirements. Self-service software can potentially allow management or even employees to enter data.

Does the ADA cover food allergies?

Society has come a long way toward becoming more aware of food allergies. Improved food labeling and general awareness make life a little easier for those who suffer from these allergies. However, many employers need to take employee food allergies more seriously.

Although general awareness has improved, many people do not consider food allergies to be a "real" disability. If you or someone you know suffers from food allergies, then you know that's not true. These allergies present a potentially life-threatening danger.

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