Workers in Florida who are penalized for engaging in a protected activity could be victims of employer retaliation. Retaliation can happen after an individual files a workers' compensation claim, and there are many different forms of retaliation. For example, a person could be fired or demoted for filing a workers' compensation claim or asking about filing a claim. Other forms of retaliation include a pay cut or negative information added to an employee file.
Employers in Florida and throughout the country are generally not allowed to retaliate against workers who assert their legal rights in the workplace. However, it is still possible for a worker to be terminated, demoted or otherwise treated differently after engaging in a protected act. There are several different steps that workers can take if they believe that they have been treated in an unfair manner. The first step is to speak directly with the party acting in a potentially retaliatory manner.
Employees in Florida are allowed to make complaints about harassment in the workplace. In response, employers are not allowed to retaliate or take any steps that could be seen as retaliation. For example, if a manager moves an employee to a different office after making a complaint, that could be seen as retaliation. This is true because the person reporting the transgression was negatively impacted as opposed to the alleged perpetrator.
In the past, federal employees in Florida could expect the Office of Special Counsel to side with federal agency supervisors when workers filed complaints about mistreatment or blew the whistle about misconduct. Starting in 2017, however, the agency reformed its attitude toward employee complaints. It issued a record-setting 323 rulings in favor of employees. This represented a 16 percent increase in employees winning cases over the previous year.
Florida residents may be interested to learn that a former employee for Tesla recently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the automaker. The former employee reportedly worked at the company as the Operations Associate Manager until he was terminated in October 2017.
Many employees in Florida who face harassment at work might not report that harassment. According to a study by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2016, the reason that around 90 percent of workers who are harassed do not report it is for fear they will not be believed, nothing will be done, or they will face retaliation.
The number of Florida residents filing claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was down in fiscal year 2017 as compared to previous years. Sunshine State filings tracked national numbers that have been trending downwards since 2010 despite a slight bump last year from 2015 numbers. Fiscal year 2017, which ended in September, saw just 84,254 EEOC filings nationwide. In 2010, there were 99,922 filings. The EEOC is responsible for enforcing and administering federal civil rights laws in the majority of employment settings.
Employees in Florida and throughout the country are supposed to be protected from retaliation if they report their companies for dangerous practices. However, one man was fired from his job and sued for defamation after he reported his company for improper asbestos removal at a high school in New York.
Employees in Florida and other states across the nation may want to know more about an announcement made by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in July regarding updates to its online whistleblower complaint form. According to one OSHA official, workers may file complaints with increased confidence because the appropriate federal agencies will now receive filings and respond to them in a more timely manner.
Although the Family and Medical Leave Act grants employees in Florida some protections when they need to attend to health problems for themselves or family members, the use of the leave sometimes results in legal disputes. An employee could be fired after returning from a leave, like the plaintiff in a case reviewed in April by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Under certain circumstances, such an action could be considered retaliation for lawful conduct and a court might assign liability to the employer for damages suffered by the plaintiff.