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Ignored discrimination, harassment complaints led to legal action

Many Florida workers know that the type of environment of a workplace and the interactions that go on between co-workers can have a considerable impact on how efficiently a workplace runs. Negative actions such as discrimination and subsequent harassment can create a very unwelcoming environment that could prompt employees to file complaints about the actions of other workers or superiors. Unfortunately, some of those complaints go uninvestigated and employees must either continually deal with inappropriate actions or, in some cases, are terminated from positions for making their claims.

Three women working for a university system in a nearby state had to deal with such discriminatory and harassing actions from superiors and were terminated or transferred after filing complaints. Their complaints stemmed from situations in which a female African-American superior made derogatory remarks based on race and gender toward the three female workers, one of whom was biracial and the others African-American. Though they experienced the harassment at different times, written and verbal complaints made to the human resources department went unheeded.

After the situations were not handled within the workplace, legal action was taken against Alabama State University, and the three women were awarded approximately $1 million in damages and other compensation. The university attempted to appeal the decision, but an appeals court also ruled in favor of the three women. It was also noted that the court also found it disturbing that the work environment almost seemed to be condoning such negative actions.

Furthermore, it was also mentioned in the report that it is important to realize that discrimination and harassment can occur from people of the same race and gender. Though this situation occurred in a neighboring state, workers in Florida could be just as susceptible to such detrimental actions in a workplace and should understand that they have options for dealing with it. As this case shows, further legal action was necessary after internal action was not taken, and understanding relevant state laws could help those in similar situations learn how to move forward.

Source:, $1 million award for race, sex harassment upheld by appeals court, No author, Oct. 9, 2013

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