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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

How to get employees to speak up

It has been traditionally seen as difficult for Florida employees to speak out against inappropriate behavior at work. However, companies are increasingly likely to want their people to point out instances of theft, harassment or other bad acts in the workplace. Of course, it can be difficult for employees to feel confident in addressing what they have seen or experienced to their superiors. One way to overcome that is to have employees report abusive behavior in groups.

While an individual may be nervous about calling out a colleague, it may be easier when that person has the support of fellow workers. Bystander intervention training may be an effective tool to help employees learn how to intervene when someone is being bullied or harassed. Companies can do their part by establishing a workplace culture that encourages people to speak up when they see something that doesn't look or feel right.

When to file sexual harassment charges

A victim of sexual harassment at work in Florida may file a claim against their employer. However, there are certain statute of limitations rules to keep in mind. Someone who works for the federal government must generally file a claim with an EEO counselor within 45 days of the harassment occurring. Furthermore, the complaint must be filed within 15 days of notified by an EEO counselor about the filing process. Those who work for a private employer could have up to 300 days to make a sexual harassment claim.

Private employers are only covered by Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rules if they have at least 15 employees. Those employees must work at least 20 weeks during a calendar year to qualify for EEOC sexual harassment claim purposes. Complaints can be filed either online or at an EEOC office, and they can also be sent to an EEOC office by mail.

Racial discrimination still a big problem in US workplaces

There has been increased attention to workplace discrimination and other forms of on-the-job mistreatment in Florida and across the nation. Still, these issues have not stopped with that focus. For people who have been confronted with workplace discrimination, it's important to know how to address the problem.

A study from Glassdoor claims that approximately one-third of working adults have either been discriminated against themselves or witnessed it happening to others. As part of the research, more than 5,000 employees in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France were surveyed. Just over 31% stated they were either victimized or saw another employee facing racial discrimination. One-quarter said the same in regard to sexual orientation.

Manager clashes with attorney while testifying

Business owners in Florida and throughout the country are typically barred from taking actions that could be interpreted as racial discrimination. One man who worked for Founders Brewing in Detroit claimed in a lawsuit that the company had an overtly racist culture. He claimed that others within the organization used blatantly racist language on multiple occasions. However, a manager for the company refused to acknowledge that the employee who filed the suit was black.

An attorney for the company said that the lawsuit was without merit and that the manager's testimony was not necessarily noteworthy. The attorney also said that the plaintiff had testified under oath that this individual was not a racist. In the lawsuit itself, the plaintiff claimed that others had used racial slurs toward him and that there were separate printers for white and black employees.

How employers can prevent sexual harassment at restaurants

As numerous industries have learned in the last few years, sexual harassment can occur anywhere. While much of the focus has been on Hollywood and Washington D.C., many people will tell you that one of the most common places where sexual harassment takes place is in the foodservice industry. 

Servers and hosts, usually when they are female, may find themselves in uncomfortable situations where a customer makes her feel exposed. The customer may not work on behalf of the company, but management should still take initiative to ensure everyone feels safe. This involves developing a system where servers can report the harassment and a manager can intervene. 

Sexual harassment in the health care field

Florida women who work in health care may face a significant amount of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. According to MedScape, the gap in women's pay in that profession compared to men is, on average, $36,000 annually compared to $96,000. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine found in 2018 that as many as 50% of all women medical students face sexual harassment, and sexual harassment is three times more likely for them compared to women who work outside the STEM fields.

Women face additional hurdles if they decide to have children. They receive more negative evaluations, and they lose over $10,000 in income when they take maternity leave. Women doctors are more likely to face pregnancy complications than women in other professions. This could be because of an inability to change their work schedules leading up to delivery.

Do jokes count as sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace can take numerous forms. It can involve outright requests for sexual favors or the sending of unwanted, sexually explicit pictures. Many individuals try to write off certain advances as merely "joking," but as outlined by the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, even jokes can count toward sexual harassment

Many people do not see the harm in telling an off-color joke at work. Plenty of work environments allow for employees to be a bit crude as long as it does not interfere with the company's revenue. However, all employees must be aware of when a joke crosses a line. 

An overview of racial discrimination at work

Florida employers may engage in both overt and subtle forms of racial discrimination. While such behavior is generally prohibited in the workplace, it can be difficult to detect it when it occurs. This is because there could be many reasons why a company decided to hire one person over another or promote one individual at the expense of another. However, there may be clues that an employer made a decision based on a person's race as opposed to an individual's qualifications.

In rare cases, employers may actually ask questions about a person's race during an interview. They may also have a pattern of failing to hire or promote minorities. If a minority is passed over for someone who is not qualified for a particular position, that could be strong evidence of racial discrimination. It's important to note that federal law prohibits employers from taking almost any action that could have a greater impact on one race over another.

Sexual orientation harassment facts

Harassment is not acceptable in any setting, and it can be especially offensive in the workplace. Many employees spend the majority of their waking hours at their jobs, and a hostile environment can make that time unpleasant.

Thankfully, there are means to protect employees against harassing activity. However, employees must identify and report such actions. Particularly in regards to harassment due to one's sexual orientation, there are a few key facts to know.

Sexual harassment claims should be filed quickly

There are several reasons for a Florida worker to bring a sexual harassment claim sooner rather than later. The longer someone waits to report an instance of sexual harassment in the workplace, the more likely it is that others are being harassed in the interim. By reporting quickly after the event, the perpetrator may be forced to change his or her behavior before others can be harmed. Additionally, a long period of time between the harassing event and the report being filed can have negative effects on the claim.

People will sometimes question the veracity of a claim based on nothing more than a delay in bringing it. A delay may also result in the claimant forgetting details of the event, and filing a report quickly is the best way to be certain that all of the relevant facts are properly documented. It's best if the person can provide their human resources department with all of the information available, including the exact time and date of the event and a detailed account of what happened.

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