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Boca Raton Employment Law Blog

McDonald's workers striking to protest harassment

Women who work at some Florida McDonald's restaurants are among those who participated in walkouts to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment. On Sept. 18, female workers at McDonald's locations in 10 major cities planned to walk out of work during the lunch rush. The protests come after an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint was filed against McDonald's in May.

The Time's Up Legal Defense Fund and the labor advocacy group Fight for $15 helped file the EEOC complaint on behalf of 10 women who work at McDonald's restaurants in eight different cities. The complaint alleges that there were widespread examples of women being propositioned for sex, groped or assaulted by superiors or coworkers. According to the women, they were retaliated against, rebuffed or fired when they reported the incidents.

More than a third of workers experience on-the-job harassment

Boca Raton employees may not be surprised to learn that over a third of workers around the country have suffered from harassment in the workplace, according to a study. In addition, half of those workers were harassed due to their sex or gender. The study was conducted by Hiscox, an international insurance company.

Hiscox polled 500 full-time U.S. workers between June 6 and June 11, 2018. The survey found that workplace harassment is common, but it often goes unreported. For example, of the 35 percent of participants who reported experiencing harassment, 40 percent said they did not report it to their employer or to police. Fifty-three percent of those who did not report their harassment said they were afraid that reporting the incident could create a hostile working environment. Meanwhile, 37 percent of those who did report their harassment thought the issue was mishandled by their employer.

Understanding ADA accommodations violations

The Americans with Disabilities Act is a federal civil rights law that protects individuals from discrimination based on disability. The law, also known as ADA, is an important component in anti-discrimination cases, especially in workplaces and public places such as restaurants and stores.

If you have a disability as the ADA defines it, you should understand the law so that you know your rights. If someone violates your rights, especially in the workplace where this federal law protects accommodations for disabilities, you can take action.

Group of states ask for new ruling on Title VII issue

In March 2018, the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of a transgender woman who was beginning the process of becoming a female. The woman claimed that she was fired from the funeral home that she worked at because of her gender identity. According to the court, an employer's religious beliefs do not justify discrimination and that Title VII protected transgender employees. However, how this applies to Florida residents may be unclear after a legal challenge from representatives of 16 states.

They have asked the Supreme Court to rule that Title VII doesn't protect workers based on gender identity. The group filed an amicus brief with the court saying that Congress only intended protection based on sex to refer to biological sex. It concluded that the court exceeded its power by interpreting the rule in a manner that it felt was not consistent with what Congress had intended.

LGBT workers pushed into closet by discrimination fears

Despite the fact that lots of Florida companies proclaim their LGBT-friendly credentials, many LGBT workers choose to stay closeted on the job. While there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon, one of the most common and well-founded is the fear of discrimination. For example, in the federal government, the Obama administration hosted Pride celebrations and officials spoke frequently about LGBT right and expanded benefits. But with the change to the Trump administration, political appointees regularly argue against LGBT rights, pushing many federal workers back into the closet.

In one study released by the Human Rights Campaign, 46 percent of LGBT respondents said they stay in the closet while at work. The study found results consistent with other reports looking to measure the level of discrimination to which LGBT workers are subject on the job. Despite the passage of 10 years since HRC's first study on the topic, the percentage of closeted workers has barely moved during that time. Of the respondents, 38 percent of closeted workers said that they were afraid of the impact of stereotypes on their jobs.

Understanding disability discrimination

You likely already know that employers cannot discriminate against you, whether in terms of hiring you, promoting you or refusing to reasonably accommodate your disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits them from doing these things, and if one of them should fail to abide by ADA rules and regulations, you have the right to sue.

What you may not know, however, is that you must qualify for ADA protection. This means that not only must you possess the requisite qualifications to discharge whatever duties the job entails, you also must fall within one of the following three criteria:

  1. You must suffer from a physical or mental disease or condition that significantly curtails your ability to see, walk, hear, speak, learn, etc.
  2. You must have a disability history, such as a type of cancer that currently is in remission.
  3. Your prospective or current employer must believe that you have a significant and permanent physical or mental disability, even if you do not actually have that disability.

Sportswear company sued by the EEOC for discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Fanatics Inc. The litigation accuses the Florida-based athletic apparel company of harassment, racial discrimination and retaliation. The case is likely to attract a great deal of media attention as Fanatics is the world's largest seller of officially licensed sports merchandise and both the National Football League and Major League Baseball have invested in the company. The suit was filed on July 24 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

The EEOC says that it prepared the lawsuit after a black worker at the company's Jacksonville headquarters stepped forward with allegations of widespread discrimination and harassment. The man claimed that coworkers including team leaders used racist language routinely. Other workers are said to have told EEOC investigators that Fanatics treated its minority workers far more harshly than its Caucasian employees. In a statement released in response to the lawsuit, the company denied the allegations and said that it valued all of its workers regardless of their race.

Flight attendant alleges sexual harassment from pilot

Florida frequent flyers might be interested to learn that on Aug. 9, a lawsuit was filed against United Airlines by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on behalf of a female flight attendant who says she experienced sexual harassment and a hostile work environment for years and the airline did nothing to help her. The lawsuit says a pilot posted images online of the flight attendant that were sexually explicit and sometimes included information such as her name and her home airport.

According to the EEOC, the flight attendant reported the behavior multiple times, but United failed to act effectively. The EEOC says the result was that the flight attendant had to go to work each day for years in fear that her coworkers or a customer might recognize her. The airline has denied the claims.

5 common types of harassment in the workplace

Your workplace should be a safe and comfortable environment, a place in which you thrive. When harassment occurs, your job becomes a thing you dread. 

Harassment not only results in a lack of trust and a loss of productivity, it deeply affects your personal life. Thankfully, there are laws that protect your right to a workplace free of harassment. Here are some of the most common forms of harassment:

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