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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

What should employers do to prevent disability discrimination?

Employees should not face mistreatment at work because of a disability. Florida employers should strive to protect the interests of these workers, and they should take certain steps to make their workplaces more inclusive and conducive for disabled individuals. Any type of disability discrimination is unacceptable, and in some cases, it may be grounds for a civil claim against the employer.

Disabled employees have the right to certain types of protections in the workplace. This means if an employee has a disability that affects his or her ability to work, the employer should offer reasonable accommodations. This may include more frequent breaks, permission to sit while doing certain tasks and adjusting some job requirements. This allows disabled individuals to continue to work and earn an income.

Common signs of sexual harassment in the workplace

The inappropriate treatment of workers has become a more prevalent issue as people become more comfortable with speaking about what they experienced. Thanks to various social movements, there has been more awareness surrounding issues like sexual harassment in the workplace. Florida workers may find it helpful to learn more about what behaviors count as harassment and what they can do to protect their rights and interests.

Of course, unwanted physical contact is one of the most prevalent types of sexual harassment someone might experience at work. This can include backrubs and other similar types of seemingly innocent behaviors, but in reality, they may make someone uncomfortable and communicate inappropriate messages. No matter the specific type of behavior, it is especially inappropriate after the recipient asks the perpetrator to stop.

Does your job put you at higher risk of sexual harassment?

Many women in Florida and across the country feel a sense of fear in their everyday lives associated with the potential for facing sexual harassment or assault. Even taking a walk or going for a jog could be a dangerous activity for a lone woman who catches the eye of an attacker. Though most people hope that their places of employment are safe and welcoming environments, that is not always the case.

You may be one of the many women who work in the service industry where sexual harassment runs rampant, or you may work in another industry where circumstances still put you at significant risk of facing inappropriate actions. Unfortunately, some employment positions do have higher rates of sexual harassment than others.

Orlando restaurant owner accused of sexual harassment

Florida employees should not be subjected to any type of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment in the workplace. They should not fear inappropriate behavior from employers or co-workers, and they should not be afraid of retaliation if they report these things. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a real problem for many employees, including those in the restaurant industry. One Orlando-area restaurant owner is accused of creating a hostile work environment for employees.

Accusations against the owner began to surface after a social media user posted frustration with the restaurant owner's lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. In response, the original poster received many messages from former employees of all three of the owner's establishments. Although the post was about racial justice, many of the messages included claims of a hostile work environment and sexual harassment experienced by many who worked for the restaurateur.

Conversations about race discrimination in the workplace

The issue of race has dominated the headlines over the last few weeks. Even in today's culture, race discrimination is still a problem in workplaces, and many Florida business owners and employees are taking steps to address this issue head-on. Addressing the issue of discrimination can start with conversations, but it doesn't stop there. Decisive action is appropriate and critical.

One step for employers is to incorporate anti-discrimination training and awareness into training. A company's core values should include a strong stand against discriminatory actions in the workplace, making it impossible for any type of racist behavior to happen without quick and decisive action. Employers may also find it beneficial to provide employees with educational resources in order to spread awareness.

Development of hostile work environment in the Army Reserve

Florida employees who experience sexual harassment and other types of mistreatment in the workplace have the right to file complaints and take action. Employers have the responsibility to take complaints seriously and follow the appropriate procedures to handle these matters promptly. There is evidence to suggest this does not always happen in the Army Reserve, which has led to the development of a hostile work environment in some units.

The U.S. Army Reserve recently suspended a unit commander while investigating alleged sexual harassment in the workplace and retaliation. There are accusations that the commander mishandled complaints of sexual misconduct by doing internal investigations instead of referring the complaints to criminal investigators. There is also a report that the whistleblower experienced retaliation after bringing the issue to the attention of Army Reserve authorities.

Sexual harassment is a problem for many federal employees

Regardless of the type of workplace, no Florida employee should be subjected to mistreatment, harassment or discrimination. Unfortunately, this is still a problem for many, including those who are employed in federal workplaces. A recent look at sexual harassment in federal offices found the problem to be prominent, and victims often do not get the recourse they deserve.

One issue regarding sexual harassment in the workplace concerns victims often do not report it. In many cases, this type of harassment is a power move, done with the intention of showing force, intimidation or instilling fear. A study found that one in seven people who work in federal workplaces experienced sexual harassment at some point between the years of 2016 and 2018. Those who are working on contract positions or as interns are especially vulnerable to harassment, and they may not feel they have a way to report the behavior.

How your employer can protect you from cyberbullying

Like many Florida employees, you may now be doing a large portion of your work online. In the past few months, many employers have shifted certain parts of their operations and allowed workers to do their jobs from the comfort and safety of their own homes. You may now be interacting with many of your coworkers and others primarily through Zoom meetings, Skype, email and other platforms.

This does not mean that you are safe from discrimination, harassment and bullying. In fact, it's possible that cyberbullying is actually a greater concern now for you and others who do much of their work online. Still, your employer has an obligation to provide a work environment that is professional and respectful. If you are dealing with any type of cyberbullying, you do not have to suffer in silence.

Wrongful termination is grounds for legal action

There are times when an employer may respond inappropriately when an employee exercises his or her rights, such as filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting harassment in the workplace. One of these inappropriate actions includes firing that employee without a legitimate reason. Wrongful termination is inexcusable, and it could be grounds for a Florida employee to take legal action.

A terminated employee may not be certain that what he or she experienced counts as wrongful termination. This often happens after an employee causes inconvenience or additional expenses for the employer. Instead of dealing with these issues appropriately, the employer may simply terminate the employee as a retaliatory act. Sometimes, an employer may try and avoid responsibility for the firing by pressuring the employee to quit. 

Workplace bullies can create a hostile workplace, even online

Every employee in Florida has the right to workplace free from inappropriate behavior and harassment of any kind, whether in person or online. Unfortunately, bullies in the workplace are still prevalent, and they do things that ultimately lead to the creation of a hostile workplace. Victims of bullies at work may experience things like aggressive comments, threats, discrimination inappropriate contact and even sexual harassment. This commonly happens in online settings. 

Many assume that bullying is something that only happens among children, but this type of behavior can affect adults as well. It can actually be difficult to identify cyberbullying and digital discrimination, and victims may not be certain that what they are experiencing qualifies as a type of harassment. Bullying can include things like direct attempts to ruin a person's reputation, spreading gossip, denying the victim opportunities and harassment of a sexual nature. This is becoming a significant problem as many companies shift to online operations.

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