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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

Google payouts to accused harassers spark outrage

A payout received by one Google executive has sparked outrage in Florida and across the country about the continuing problem of sexual harassment in the workplace. A former executive at the technology giant received $35 million in his severance package even though he was allegedly forced to resign after an investigation into sexual assault accusations. The total of his exit package was revealed as part of an ongoing shareholder lawsuit targeting the company's practice of paying large severance amounts to high-ranking executives accused of sexual harassment or assault.

The lawsuit alleges that these kinds of payouts put the company at risk of damage to its reputation and, thus, financial damage. By paying large sums to male executives accused of sexual harassment, the lawsuit alleges that the board of Google parent company Alphabet did not protect the best interests of the company as a whole. The suit also claims that some officers and directors of the company were involved in a scheme to cover up ongoing sexual harassment problems.

Racial discrimination suit filed against large shipping carrier

A group of 19 African-American workers is suing a major shipping company for permitting a racially hostile work environment in one of its distribution centers. The company has distribution centers in all 50 states, including Florida, but the allegations giving rise to the suit took place in Ohio.

According to the lawsuit, the hostile environment spans nearly 20 years. In 2017, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, or OCRC, investigated and determined that probable cause existed regarding the claims. The lawsuit was filed thereafter. The OCRC did not sanction the company but entered an agreement to take remedial measures to prevent further incidents.

3 steps for dealing with racism at your job

When you start a new job, you expect it to be a welcoming environment. You may start to connect with your colleagues and management. Suddenly, someone makes an offensive comment about race that rubs you the wrong way and you may not know how to react. 

It is a sad reality that racism is still alive and well and often rears its ugly head in the context of work. When you hear a rude remark, tasteless joke or outright slur, you may feel a mixture of shock, anger and confusion. Here are some easy steps for dealing with racism at your job.

Tesla faces three whistleblower complaints

Florida residents might be interested in learning about some whistleblower tips against Tesla that have been filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The whistleblowers are three former employees of the company, including two security professionals and one technician.

According to news sources, the latest whistleblower tip confirmed the information provided by the second one. The tip includes allegations that Tesla hacked the computers and phones of its employees and did not disclose to its shareholders that raw materials had been stolen. The tip also includes an allegation that employees of Tesla viewed the proposal to take the company private last year with skepticism following an internal discussion that occurred before Elon Musk tweeted about it.

Restaurant workers likely to encounter sexual harassment

Sexual harassment of restaurant and other food service employees is a common scenario. Reports indicate that up to 70 percent of male workers and 90 percent of female workers in restaurants have experienced some type of sexual harassment from customers, coworkers, supervisors or suppliers. Workers in Florida should be aware of their rights and opportunities for recourse regarding this issue.

Approximately 52 percent of employees in restaurants are female, and two-thirds of them are compensated at least in part with tips. Power imbalances between women and men may lead to more harassment of women in the workplace. Recent research suggests harassment of male workers is on the rise. This area has not been as widely researched, though, so the statistics may be inaccurate. Another factor that may lead to under-reporting of male employee harassment is that it may be perceived as unmanly for male employees to report harassment.

How to respond to sexual harassment at work

Sadly, sexual harassment in the workplace is common. According to a recent survey, 81 percent of women experience sexual harassment. This is a staggering statistic that demonstrates the severity of the issue. Even though sexual harassment is prevalent, it is not always corrected or punished. 

It is important to remember that you have the right to work in a safe environment. It can be intimidating and uncomfortable to take action to stop sexual harassment, but you are worth it. You should not put up with any behavior that violates your rights. If you find yourself dealing with a harasser at your job, here are some guidelines for what to do next. 

Woman gets money in settlement with employer

A woman who used to work at a Florida bar has been awarded $80,000 in a sexual harassment case. The plaintiff, who was a bartender at Christini's Ristorante Italiano in Orlando, claims that she was told to look date-ready and sexy while performing job duties. The woman alleges that she was terminated after expressing concerns about her treatment to management. She was terminated in March 2017 after starting work for the company in August 2015.

A lawsuit was filed in September 2018 prior to a settlement being reached with the company. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has also required the company to take steps to ensure that sexual harassment doesn't occur to others who work there. This includes creating a written anti-harassment policy as well as submitting reports to the EEOC. Finally, the company was tasked with writing the plaintiff a positive job recommendation.

Florida woman sues donut shop for racial discrimination

A Dunkin' Donuts shop in Miami stands accused of racially discriminating against a female employee. The woman has filed a lawsuit alleging that her manager and co-workers treated her poorly because of her race and then retaliated by taking her off the work schedule.

According to her legal complaint, the discrimination started shortly after her hiring on March 8, 2016. By April 13, 2016, the employer allegedly ceased scheduling her for work and terminated her position without telling her. The manager never responded to her calls or texts inquiring about the loss of work hours. Her lawyer said that she had difficulty getting her final paycheck as well.

Sexual harassment in medical academia

In Florida and around the country, the #MeToo movement has received a great deal of attention. Some associate workplace sexual harassment with the entertainment industry. But it is also prominent in a less likely field. Recent research has determined the medical profession to have an unwanted culture of predatory conduct. This is especially true in the area of medical academia.

A study was released nine months ago by a nationwide academy that provides research to the medical field and other science-oriented disciplines. The results of the study were eye opening if not shocking. The survey that was a part of the study indicates that nearly half of those training in medical academia experienced some form of unwanted sexual advances. These unwanted advances range in severity from inappropriate sexual comments to assault. The proportion of harassment incidents is double that of other science-based fields. The study further stated at nearly 80 percent of these acts went unreported. For those who did not report an incident, more than half felt either nothing would be done or feared reprisal.

Google further relaxes forced arbitration policy

It's not uncommon for workers in Florida to be subject to forced arbitration when making claims against their employers. However, those who work for Google will no longer have to enter into arbitration to resolve claims related to discrimination and wrongful termination. This is according to an announcement that the company made on Feb. 21. Arbitration can be harmful for employees as the cases are resolved in secret.

They can also be difficult in front of arbiters who are paid by the company itself. In fact, this could result in a conflict of interest. Because the cases are heard in secret, harassers could target multiple victims without significant repercussions. The announcement was an expansion of current company policy. In November, Google ended forced arbitration in regard to sexual harassment and sexual assault claims.

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