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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Protections and rights of Florida whistleblowers

A person has the right to report wrongdoing that is happening in a Florida workplace. Fraud and other deceptive or illegal practices are unacceptable, but employees may fear what will happen to them if they speak out. There are laws that protect whistleblowers from retaliation from their employers, and it may be appropriate for an employee to take legal action if he or she experiences mistreatment.

Fraud against the federal government is one reason why an employee may blow the whistle on his or her employer. A worker can file a specific type of lawsuit, called a qui tam lawsuit, on behalf of the federal government against the employer. If the lawsuit is successful, the whistleblower would be eligible for a portion of the judgment. Qui tam lawsuits are often the result of things such as Medicare fraud, defense contractor fraud or Medicaid fraud.

Is calling in sick grounds for termination?

Workers in Florida have certain rights, including the right to take time off when sick and work in an environment that is free from harassment and mistreatment. In most cases, calling in sick is not grounds for termination, but one employee says this was the reason why her employer fired her. She worked at a toll plaza, and she claims she was fired via text message on the same day she was unable to work due to illness.

According to her account, the company that manages hiring and firing employees of toll plazas in the state said her termination was the result of attendance issues. She worked at the toll plaza for a year and a half, and during that time she says she had minimal days off because of sickness. She was shocked by the abrupt course of action, especially because any time off she's had up to this point was justifiable and necessary.

Fighting against disability discrimination in the workplace

Disabled individuals have the right to work in an environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. There are both state and federal laws in place that protect the rights and interests of those with a disability, and violations of these laws can lead to serious legal consequences. If you have a disability, it is in your interests to know about your rights in the workplace. 

Disability discrimination is reprehensible and against the law. If you believe you are a victim of this type of treatment, you do not have to suffer in silence. You have the right to pursue legal action against your employer in the form of a civil claim. While you may feel confused, overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next, there is help available to you.

How contracting companies can prevent sexual harassment at work

One of the most important roles of an employer is to protect the rights and interests of the employees. This means reducing physical hazards that could cause them harm, but also making sure they don't experience mistreatment while at work. Sexual harassment in the workplace is not only illegal and unacceptable, it can also cause emotional and mental duress. There are steps Florida contracting businesses can take to train workers on how to recognize, prevent and avoid this type of behavior.

An important step in preventing sexual harassment in a workplace is to adhere to state and federal standards and suggested actions, such as requiring all employees to undergo harassment training. In contracting, there are unique work environments, and harassment training should account for this. By custom-tailoring this, it will lead a greater awareness of the various forms of harassment and increase vigilance for the men and women who work in this field. 

An employee's rights to family and medical leave

Many employees in Florida are entitled to time off from work in certain circumstances related to medical needs or family issues. The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide workers with a certain amount of time off when they need it because of the birth of a child, adoption of a child, medical issues or caring for an immediate family member with a medical problem. According to the FMLA, employers must give up to 12 weeks of leave.

During these 12 weeks of FMLA leave, employers must hold the jobs of these workers. At the end of the 12-week period or when they are ready to return to work, they should be able to do so without fear of retribution, retaliation or discrimination from the employer. In order to take FMLA leave, the employee must ask for this type of leave directly from the employer.

What small businesses should know about sexual harassment

Florida workplaces have the obligation of ensuring their employees are able to do their jobs in environments that are safe and free from certain types of mistreatment. Despite both federal and state laws that prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace, it still happens, and victims suffer both mental and emotional harm as a result. Consequently, it's important for small businesses to know how to recognize and address this type of reprehensible behavior.

Not only is it illegal to discriminate on the basis of someone's gender, it is illegal to sexually harass someone in any form, in any type of workplace. Businesses should recognize that sexual harassment does not always involve a man against a woman, but it can be a woman harassing a man. It can also count as harassment when it involves two people of the same gender.

Pursuing a wrongful termination claim against an employer

When an employee loses a job without a valid reason, for illegal reasons or because he or she chose to do the right thing, it can be devastating. Wrongful termination is illegal and reprehensible, and it can be grounds for a civil claim against a Florida employer. This type of firing often happens for reasons connected to discrimination, harassment or retaliation. 

An employer has the right to fire a worker when there are valid grounds to do so. An employee may not be certain if what he or she experienced counts as wrongful termination, but it may count if the worker believes this action was a form of discrimination on the basis of skin color, gender, age or other factors. It also counts as wrongful termination if the worker was fired after reporting sexual harassment, filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting the employer for any type of wrongdoing.

Knowledge and actions can be protection against sexual harassment

From a young age, people often learn ways to protect themselves. Commonly, these lessons come from parents who want to ensure that their children understand the dangers of talking to or going with strangers, or who want their children to stand up to bullies or others who may try to hurt them. Of course, as people get older, they still face threats to their well-being, and in some cases, they may not know how to protect themselves as best as possible.

You may not have felt entirely confident in your ability to protect yourself from sexual harassment or the repercussions of filing a complaint at work. After all, the threats people learn to watch out for as children are often depicted as scary people in the dark and not bosses or co-workers in well-lit workspaces.

Time's Up seeks answers about sexual harassment guidance

People in Florida might be interested to learn that Time's Up has called out the Trump Administration for failing to include sexual harassment guidelines on the portal of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The guidance about sexual harassment was initially written during the Obama Administration, but its publication has been delayed since that time.

Time's Up is a movement that was established by celebrities to try to bring an end to sexual harassment. The organization issued a statement following a report in Bloomberg News that the guidance on sexual harassment has been held up for almost two years. President Trump reportedly signed an executive order requiring the EEOC to have a searchable database with all of its current guidance, but the guidance about sexual harassment is not contained in the database.

Teen accuses former employer of racial discrimination

For workers in Florida and throughout the United States, racial discrimination can come in many forms. When it happens at work, it is often categorized as between employer and employee. However, as one recent incident shows, it can also occur when customers behave in a discriminatory fashion. In certain instances, there is a combination that leads to workers losing their jobs.

A former worker at the Olive Garden restaurant has filed a lawsuit after making allegations that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and discrimination. The 16-year-old female quit her job as a host because of the apparent mistreatment. The series of incidents began when a customer did not want the black teen to take part in serving her, saying she preferred a white server. The restaurant manager acquiesced.

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