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Broward County Employment Law Blog

Stroke victim alleges age and disability workplace discrimination

Workers in Florida and elsewhere become more vulnerable as they age. It is not uncommon for companies to get rid of older employees, only to replace them with younger, less-experienced personnel. The cost of younger staff is lower and may benefit the company, but they lack the experience of older workers. Workplace discrimination that is based on age, disability, race, religion and gender is prohibited under federal and state law.

A 60-year-old employee of the Department of Revenue in another state recently filed a lawsuit alleging age and disability discrimination. After 30 years of employment by the Internal Revenue Service, the man was appointed as a special agent for the Criminal Tax Investigation Bureau in his state in March last year. According to the complaint, he suffered a stroke while he was at work in June 2015. This caused numbness and limited use of one of his hands along with damage to his vision.

Discriminatory job postings can be violations of employee rights

Company owners in Florida and their HR managers must ensure that compliance with employment law is practiced in all aspects. Violations of employee rights can lead to lawsuits that can be costly. One of the areas that may need special attention is the advertising of vacancies. Workers who feel a job posting is discriminatory retain the right to pursue legal action.

Specifying only the required skills may avoid signs of discrimination in advertisements. A job posting that seeks energetic workers may be seen as a vacancy for young applicants even though age is not mentioned. It may raise a red flag of employment discrimination. When an employment applicant is treated differently than others who are in similar situations, and the different treatment is based on age, national origin, race, color, gender, religion, disability or familial status, it may constitute a violation of the disparate impact rule of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

School administrator files employment discrimination lawsuit

Florida employees have the right to receive reasonable accommodations when they get older and start developing associated medical conditions. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, and instead, workers are sometimes mocked and pressured to retire. A high school in another state is currently facing an employment discrimination lawsuit that was filed by a man who had an administrative position before he developed a medical disability.

Court documents indicate that the plaintiff -- a 60-year-old man with a record of teaching and administrative excellence -- was employed as the operations director at the high school. The plaintiff contends that he started to suffer medical problems that were later diagnosed as the onset of Parkinson's disease. The complaint alleges the executive director of the school ridiculed the man's medical disabilities to in public. Furthermore, as part of an attempt to get the plaintiff to retire, the defendant ordered his demotion to the dean of students.

County agrees to settle wage and hour law claim for back wages

Understandably, county workers in Florida expect fair treatment when it comes to their wages and the hours they put in on the job. Water-treatment employees in another state who had such expectations were reportedly disillusioned. A total of 151 workers filed a class action lawsuit against the county back in 2011. It has now been reported that the county has agreed to pay a $795,000 settlement in what it stated was a compromise with no admission of liability in the case alleging violations of wage and hour law.

The lawsuit was initially filed by three workers and later joined by more employees. According to the court documents, the county's regulations prohibited employees from taking their work gear home and arrive at work already wearing it. However, the time workers spent on preshift duties such as dressing in the appropriate safety gear, attending briefings and more was not included when their wages were calculated.

Landlord sued by former worker for 10 years of unpaid overtime

Florida residents may have read about a case that followed hundreds of tenants' complaints against a landlord who is the owner of almost 150 apartment buildings in another state. Along with facing multiple felony charges related to the manner in which he handled the finances of his properties, he is now also being sued by a former employee. A man who claims to have been managing 11 of the landlord's buildings has filed a lawsuit alleging wage and hour law violations for unpaid overtime. The man says he was never paid any overtime wages over the almost 10 years in which his workweeks covered an average of 81 hours per week.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff was on-call permanently and had to respond to the needs of tenants in all 11 complexes under his supervision. He contends his workdays typically started at 5 a.m. -- including Saturdays and Sundays. The superintendent alleges he is owed thousands of dollars in unpaid overtime.

Workplace discrimination often well disguised and subtle

Employers in Florida who are inclined to discriminate against some employees typically do so in subtle ways. It is not uncommon for workers to sense an atmosphere of discrimination but then tell themselves that they are oversensitive or paranoid. The fear of losing a job often prevents victims of workplace discrimination from reporting their suspicions.

Employment discrimination based on religion, gender, race, age or sexual orientation is not allowed. If minimum diversity is noticed in a workplace where all employees conform to the same characteristics, it may indicate that the company prefers to employ individuals fitting those attributes. However, another clear indication is a business in which all types of people are employed, but a clear divide exists between their employment levels. For example, a work environment where all the females are administrative clerks and all the men are in management positions.

Jail deputy files 2nd lawsuit alleging retaliation after 1st suit

Employers nationwide, including in Florida, are not permitted to retaliate against workers who reported violations of their rights as employees. An employee of a county jail in another state recently filed a second lawsuit against his employers, alleging retaliation after the first lawsuit. In 2012 the man filed a whistleblower complaint about religion discrimination, and a settlement with the county was reached in 2014. Part of the settlement agreement stated that the county would provide prison staff with obligatory anti-discrimination training.

However, the jail deputy alleges retaliation since then has become unbearable. He contends that he has not been considered for promotions, and performance reports depicted him as an incompetent worker. Court documents indicate that three applications for positions as an open sergeant since 2014 were denied. The man asserts that, on one occasion, he was informed that his previous lawsuit resulted in the management not wanting to work with him.

McDonald's faces 15 worker complaints alleging sexual harassment

The recent release of a survey that included the experiences of 1,217 women in the fast food industry revealed that four in 10 women in this industry had been subjected to workplace harassment. The majority of the respondents were victims of frequent sexual harassment, and in some cases, there were male victims of sexual discrimination. It is not uncommon for such harassment to go unreported because of the fear of retaliation or termination. However, 15 complaints have been filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by employees of McDonald's in eight different states, including in Florida.

The details of some of the alleged incidents are shocking. One drive-thru cashier says her manager unsnapped her bra and upon confrontation, he allegedly said he did it because he could. Others claim their supervisors show them pornographic images, and one shift supervisor allegedly showed an employee a photo of his genitals. Another worker alleges her boss sent her a text message offering her $1,000 for oral sex.

Rescue mission worker alleges sexual harassment at work

Having to cope with unwanted sexual advances at work can make life extremely unpleasant, and employees nationwide, including in Florida, need not put up with it. A man who claims to be a victim of such harassment recently filed a federal lawsuit against a rescue mission in another state. The lawsuit alleges he was dismissed after repeatedly reporting sexual harassment.

The man, who was employed as a truck driver, was tasked with collecting donations at the warehouse of the rescue mission and then delivering them to the kitchen. The plaintiff alleges that sexual harassment by other workers started at the beginning of 2015. He claims that colleagues would make sexually offensive advances and comments. They also engaged in inappropriate touching of his body, and some went as far as putting their hands in his pants.

Workplace discrimination claimed by pregnant hospital worker

Workers in Florida and elsewhere are protected by various laws, one of which is the Americans with Disabilities Act. An ex-employee of a hospital in another state is accusing her former employers of violating this law. She has recently filed a federal lawsuit alleging workplace discrimination. According to the lawsuit, the woman was employed as an admissions representative by the defendant and had been working for the company for 18 years.

She asserts that along with suffering from diabetes, she was about half way through a high-risk pregnancy when she requested to be allocated an air conditioned office. Her medical condition at the time made it difficult for her to breathe in unusually hot conditions. It is alleged that, as with other requests for breaks or time off during her pregnancy, the employer refused the request for air conditioning and told the employee that she could resign if she was unhappy with the work environment.

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