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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Does harassment have you feeling unsafe going to work?

Your work is undoubtedly important to you. You may have had your career path mapped out for years and intended to do whatever you could to reach your desired employment goals. After landing a job at a desirable company, you may have felt confident that nothing would hold you back.

Unfortunately, months or maybe even years after working at your current place of employment, you felt a shift in the work environment. Rather than the once-welcoming atmosphere, you began to feel uncomfortable going to work, especially around certain co-workers or superiors. Those feelings may have come about due to harassing actions from others.

Women in charge may still face sexual harassment

Women can face unique challenges in the workplace, including unwanted advances and intimidation from male co-workers. Sexual harassment is not an issue unique to a specific group as even females in leadership and positions of power are susceptible to this type of unacceptable treatment. Research into the issue suggests that behind sexual harassment is often a desire to humiliate and intimidate, and women in charge are not immune to it.

Females in leadership positions may be targeted because they are in charge. Men may not feel comfortable with women being in authority over them, offering them feedback and having decision-making authority over their jobs. Because of this and other reasons, female leaders in Florida workplaces may actually experience sexual harassment at a higher frequency. However, they are also more likely to report the treatment. 

Sick employees may face disability discrimination

Florida employees who are able to do their jobs should be allowed to do so, even if those employees have certain types of medical conditions. Disability discrimination comes in many forms, and for some, it can happen after they take time off for medical treatment or to recover after an illness. Unfortunately, this type of discrimination can lead to termination, and fired employees may not realize that what they experienced is unlawful treatment from their employers.

An example of this is an employee who worked at an airport in cargo handling services. After experiencing a heart aneurysm, he spent around six weeks away from work as he recovered in a hospital and rehabilitation center. He had medical records to verify his need for additional medical leave, and eventually, doctors ordered him to avoid lifting anything over 20 pounds. At this point, his employer assured him that his job was safe, but that he was now on personal leave instead of medical leave.

Methods for preventing race discrimination in the workplace

Florida employers have the responsibility of making sure they establish and maintain work environments that are free from inappropriate behaviors and fair for all employees. Race discrimination is still a problem in many workplaces, and there are steps companies can take to lower the chance of this happening. Inclusive and diverse workplaces are important, and developing them starts with implementing meaningful change and effective standards.

Programs designed to diversify workplaces and reduce the chance of racial discrimination are not always effective. One problem is that reporting discrimination often results in some type of retaliation, which discourages others from speaking out. One meaningful step employers can take is to establish new procedures for reporting discrimination, providing discreet and confidential ways for victims to defend themselves and put an end to mistreatment.

Workplace sexual harassment when working from home

Unprecedented circumstances have seen many Florida employees transition from working in offices to working at home. Many companies have shifted their operations online, using Zoom and other platforms to communicate with each other. Even from the comfort of home, however, some employees are still experiencing workplace sexual harassment. In these unusual circumstances, Florida employees may be unsure of how to handle this issue.

The current global crisis has many people without work, and women may be disproportionately affected by the unemployment crisis. With the number of female employees either without work or working remotely, one may assume there will be a decrease in sexual harassment in work settings. Still, there is evidence that those who perpetrate this type of inappropriate behavior may find ways to continue to do so despite current circumstances.

Disability discrimination in the hiring process

Looking for a job is not always easy. The position you desire may require you to earn a college degree, obtain special certification, or acquire training or experience in other ways. You may feel especially proud of those accomplishments if you are living with a disability. Like many in Florida who are seeking work, you may prefer potential employers to see you for your achievements and qualifications instead of measuring you based on your disability.

In fact, if an employer refuses to hire you or otherwise treats you unfairly because of your disability, he or she is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. It is true that the ADA is a complex law and that many employers do not fully understand it. However, this does not mean it is acceptable for a manager or business owner to deny you a job for which you are the best qualified applicant.

Retaliation after filing for workers' compensation benefits

When a Florida employee experiences an injury on the job, he or she has the right to purse benefits through a workers' compensation claim. Most employers are required to carry this type of insurance, and injured or sick workers can seek coverage of lost wages, medical bills and other needs in the event of a workplace accident. Unfortunately, some employers do not want workers to file a claim unless the injury is severe or disabling, and injured employees may experience retaliation. 

Retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim can come in many forms. An employee can be terminated, or he or she may experience other types of retaliatory treatment, such as harassment, demotion, being overlooked for a deserved promotion and more. An employer may do this to create an environment of intimidation, discouraging other employees from filing claims in the future.

Sexual assault and harassment claim filed against hockey team

The Tampa Bay Lightning is dealing with a civil claim filed by a former women's hockey coach. The plaintiff states she was fired from her job as a youth hockey coach and as part of the Lightning's community outreach program after she reported sexual assault and harassment by one of the hockey team's executives. The alleged incident took place on a company trip. 

In her lawsuit, she is demanding the Florida hockey organization pay her for lost wages after her termination and damages for mental duress she experienced. She also wants to be reinstated in her previous job with the Lightning. Her lawsuit claims she was subjected to various discriminatory and harassing behaviors because of her gender since the beginning of her employment with the team in 2016.

Fast food manager accused of race discrimination

A manager at a Florida location of Whataburger is facing accusations of treating applicants unfairly during the hiring and employment screening process. Accusations against the manager include employee statements that say he instructed those overseeing the hiring of new employees not to hire anyone who was not white. The result was a lawsuit against the company that was eventually settled for $180,000.

The lawsuit against Whataburger was filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The claim states that the manager instructed the person in charge of hiring new personnel to hire only white people in order to reflect the demographics of the geographic area where the restaurant is located. This is not accurate as approximately 81% of people hired in the Tallahassee area were African-American.

Former police force employee alleges wrongful termination

A woman who worked for the University of South Florida's police force has filed a lawsuit against her former employer. She claims she was fired because of wrongful termination and issues that include disability discrimination, racial discrimination and gender discrimination. She claims the police chief on campus acted inappropriately toward her and others while she worked as a spokesperson for USF's force. He was the one who eventually fired her. 

Her lawsuit claims she was unfairly fired from her job despite having no history of problems or complaints while she worked there. In the civil claim, allegations against the campus police chief include sharing with her information about his personal life and saying demeaning things toward women, including the president of the university. Reportedly, he even left a stuffed animal with a noose around its neck in her office. 

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