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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Tech companies end forced arbitration for sexual harassment

Workers in Florida and across the country have been speaking out about the harms caused by mandatory arbitration policies when applied to sexual harassment on the job. Facebook and Google both announced that they would end their policies that forced employees to go to arbitration over incidents of sexual harassment and even assaults. Media coverage and employee walkouts have highlighted the frustration of workers at the tech giants over how their complaints have been handled. Facebook said that it is changing its agreements to make arbitration optional rather than mandatory.

The social media corporation also said that it changed its policy on workplace relationships, requiring staff at a director level or higher to disclose relationships with other employees, even if they are not their direct reports. While people were already required to disclose relationships in their chain of command, power dynamics in the workplace are not necessarily limited to people directly working under one another. The two companies join several other large names in the tech industry in changing policies on mandatory arbitration. In the past year, Uber, Lyft and Microsoft eliminated similar policies applied to sexual harassment at work.

Has religion caused you to reach an impasse with your boss?

You were looking forward to working with the new manager hired to head up your department at work. However, you immediately ran into problems of a religious nature.

The new manager wants to reassign you to a position where you do not have to work with the public. You believe this is because you wear a headscarf that is indicative of your religious beliefs. What can you do?

Workplace harassment after the #MeToo movement

The #MeToo movement has made headlines in Florida and other states as many high-profile women have come forward with accounts of sexual harassment. According to a recent survey, employers believed that instances of sexual harassment have decreased while workers believed otherwise.

The survey asked 1,000 working adults whether or not their workplaces tolerated sexual harassment. Supervisors said they "strongly agree" that their workplaces do not tolerate harassment. However, less than half of workers surveyed said they agreed with the same statement.

Can employers regulate employees' social media profiles?

The advent of social media has made the world a little smaller, and it is easier than ever before for everyone to have an opinion. Employers may naturally worry about what their workers will post, and it has become common for people to lose their jobs over what goes onto Facebook. For example, one woman lost her job after a picture of her went viral. 

It has become a tricky area of law. Employees have protections under the First Amendment, but employers want to ensure everyone representing their companies appear mature. 

LGBT workers and workplace discrimination statistics

Employers in Florida are required to provide their workers with safe working environments, and they're prohibited from discriminating against prospective or current employees on the basis of certain protected characteristics. They are also required to protect workers from sexual harassment at the workplace. According to surveys compiled by the Williams Institute at UCLA, roughly 4 percent of the national workforce self-identifies as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person.

Among LGBT workers, 21 percent said they'd experienced discrimination in promotions, pay or hiring. Four percent of workplace discrimination complaints come from LGBT workers. The issue is not isolated to the United States. European studies have shown that roughly 20 percent of LGBT persons felt discriminated against during their job search. In some countries, such as India, there are laws prohibiting same-sex relationships. In these places, the LGBT population has no workplace legal protection against discriminatory behavior.

Employment discrimination due to mental illness

Roughly one in every five adults in Florida and the rest of the United States experiences some form of mental illness in any given year. This is according to information from the National Alliance on Mental Health.

Any number of events can occur in an individual's life and contribute to anxiety, depression, PTSD or some other mental illness. Grieving the loss of a loved one, trauma, divorce and experiences in the military are some examples of events that can act as stressors and impair an individual's mental health. For people who are suffering from some form of mental illness and who are part of the workforce or potential hires, it may be necessary for them to speak with someone in their human resources department and inquire about a reasonable accommodation for the workplace.

USPS employee alleges FMLA violation

Employees in Florida are guaranteed, at minimum, 12 weeks of unpaid leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or FMLA. Employers can offer more protection for their employees, such as paid leave. A United States Postal Service employee has filed a lawsuit in Texas alleging that he was illegally fired after taking FMLA leave.

The man alleges that he was on leave pursuant to the FMLA to take care of his wife, who was suffering from a serious condition. His complaint states that he was written up when he had doctor's appointments for which he provided notes. He says he again took leave from April to June 2016 and was thereafter sent a notice that he was terminated from his employment on Sept. 14, 2016.

Is online harassment making your workplace uncomfortable?

There are various kinds of online harassment, but any one of them can make your workday miserable.

Since 2004, when the first case of cyber harassment went to court, such incidents have increased, and men and women tend to have different experiences.

Gender-related harassment at the workplace

Many workers in Florida will experience workplace discrimination or harassment at some point during their lives. Many workers report that they have experienced discrimination due to gender.

Across the United States, approximately 50 percent of workers believe that they have experienced discrimination. Half of those feel that it was gender-related. According to a 2018 study conducted by Hiscox, an insurance company, 78 percent of those harassed stated that they were harassed by a male, and 73 percent said that the person was in a senior position.

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