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Broward County Employment Law Blog

Study notes that workplace age discrimination is common

Age discrimination at the workplace is common. Such discrimination is significant in Florida because of the large numbers of elderly residents. It also prevents otherwise qualified workers from performing their jobs. Unfortunately, age discrimination does not always garner the attention of other forms of discrimination.

An Insurance Journal periodical references a study concluding that as many as 20 percent of workers over the age of 40 experience on-the-job age discrimination. Most victims never file a complaint out of fear of retaliation. Many employers also fail to provide training that might prevent this discrimination from occurring.

Florida McDonald’s owner sued over religious discrimination

Believe it or not, but McDonald’s is one of the world’s largest employers with nearly two million people working to supply hamburgers, fries, chicken nuggets and more to a fast-food-hungry planet. The chain caters to all kinds of people in its more than 37,000 restaurants located in more than 100 countries.

It seems likely that the last thing McDonald’s wants is to be known as a company that discriminates on the basis of religion, but that’s the allegation made in a recent discrimination lawsuit filed against the owner of several Florida McDonald’s restaurants.

More than half of LGBTQ workers have faced or seen discrimination at work

As part of the year-long observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Glassdoor conducted a 2019 LGBTQ Workplace Survey. The website asked more than 6,000 employees about the on-the-job treatment of LGBTQ workers.

The results make it clear that workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual preference continues in far too many places of employment. More than half of LGBTQ employees said they have “experienced or witnessed anti-LGBTQ comments by co-workers.”

Subtle signs of sexual harassment in the workplace

Nearly two years ago, the #Metoo movement swept through the United States, leading to the downfall of several high-profile men—most notably, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Fox CEO Roger Ailes—who also were shown to be sexual abusers or sexual harassers.

Since then, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw an 12% increase in sexual harassment charges for 2018. Yet, sexual harassment is not always so obvious as an unwanted touch or sexual advance.

Working toward LGBT anti-discrimination protections nationwide

Despite the thriving LGBT community in South Florida, the state as a whole still lacks important protections for LGBT individuals against discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. Same-sex marriage was only legalized in Florida due to a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. And if anti-discrimination protections are to be implemented statewide, it may again be due to federal intervention.

In the fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in what may be a landmark case. The Court ruling could finally decide whether the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals.

What should you do after an instance of workplace discrimination?

Even though workplace discrimination should be a thing of the past, it still comes into play time and time again. For example, age and gender discrimination remains a common problem throughout the country.

If you have reason to believe you're the victim of workplace discrimination, here are five things to do:

  • Talk to your employer: Don't hesitate to meet with the company owner or HR department, as this provides the opportunity to share your feelings and better understand what's going on. While you shouldn't expect your employer to admit anything, you're at least getting your complaint out in the open. This is also a good time to review your employee handbook.
  • Follow-up: If you alert your employer but the issue persists, follow-up to better understand what they're doing to make things right. Don't let them sweep the problem under the rug.
  • Collect evidence: Any evidence related to your claim of discrimination, no matter how small it seems, should be kept in a safe place. For example, if you have an email from a supervisor that proves discrimination, a copy of it will go a long way in helping you in the future.
  • Contact the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): This is typically a last resort, but you shouldn't hesitate to escalate your concern. The EEOC can review your case, contact your employer and do whatever it takes to protect your legal rights.
  • Review all applicable state and federal laws: Doing so will help you understand your legal rights. For example, there is the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Outsmarting age discrimination in the application process

Age discrimination is a serious concern for workers over a certain age. Employers may be reticent to hire older staff members for a number of reasons. There is a cultural stereotype that leads people to believe that older workers aren't as good with technology as younger workers.

Additionally, hiring skilled older workers often be much more expensive than a student fresh out of college. Regardless of why a company does it, it is frustrating for a skilled worker to encounter age discrimination when looking for a new or better job. You may start looking for ways to help yourself stay competitive as an older applicant in a work economy increasingly favoring the young.

Warning signs of subtle gender discrimination at work

Many people think of workplace gender discrimination as obvious. There certainly are situations in which it becomes evident that an employer is intentionally engaging in systemic discrimination against an entire gender.

For example, company-wide pay discrepancies between the different genders, as well as a dearth of one gender or the other in important, executive or managerial roles is a warning sign that the company doesn't offer equal opportunities for both genders.

Wage disparities could indicate a discrimination issue

If you are like most Americans, you probably don't know what your co-workers actually earn. Many companies specifically put non-disclosure policies about wages in their contracts. They do this to avoid the awkward moment when equally qualified employees in similar positions realize that one makes much more money than the other for no discernible reason.

By preventing employees from discussing what they make, companies avoid liability and responsibility when it comes to various forms of employment discrimination. Gender as well as age can play a role in how much a person makes.

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