This article examines workplace discrimination cases in Florida, helping you understand:
- How to identify cases of workplace discrimination.
- The legal protections you are entitled to against workplace discrimination, and while filing for it, in Florida.
- How to proceed if you have been, or are concerned about being, discriminated against in the workplace.
How Can I Demonstrate That I Have Been The Subject Of Workplace Discrimination?
In an ideal situation, you will have direct evidence of discrimination. Perhaps an employer or coworker specifically demonstrates their intent or relationship to a prohibited trait and act. For example, perhaps they have used a slur or a specific reference to an employee’s age in writing or during a recording.
The other way you, as an employee, can potentially show discriminatory behavior is through differential treatment compared to an otherwise similarly situated employee who does not share the same characteristic or trait (such as age, race, gender, etc.).
For example, if you are an African-American woman and a white man who shares your position and responsibilities is consistently given favorable treatment, this could be grounds for a workplace discrimination claim.
What Should I Do If I Believe I Might Be The Victim Of Workplace Discrimination?
If you feel you might be being discriminated against in the workplace, you should make note of any specific discriminatory comments or behavior as well as keep a close eye on how other employees are treated compared to you.
While indirect or circumstantial evidence cases certainly can be won, direct evidence cases are truly the cleaner and simpler way to prove a claim for workplace discrimination, though even they are not certain.
An experienced workplace discrimination lawyer can certainly help you through the discovery process to assess who has been treated similarly and who has not, which can potentially prove your claim.
Recently, in the state of Florida, courts have begun to adopt what’s called a “convincing mosaic standard”. Now, instead of an employee being held to a rigid set of rules for proof using a specific point-by-point analysis, courts are instead additionally looking at the big picture to try and determine whether there is a relatively clear picture overall of discriminatory animus.
Am I Protected From Being Fired If I File A Discrimination Claim Against My Florida Employer?
The good news is that in Florida, in the vast majority of circumstances, anti-retaliation provisions are embedded in the law. These protect employees like you if you make a good-faith complaint of employment discrimination in the workplace. Employers in most circumstances are thus prohibited from retaliating against you for doing so.
In the current state of the law in Florida, you simply need to show that the action taken against you would deter a reasonable person from reporting and complaining about discrimination for those protections and compensations to kick in. Therefore, you are protected if you complain in good faith about discrimination and are thereafter retaliated against.
What Should I Do If I Believe I Have A Workplace Discrimination Claim?
First and foremost, if you believe you are being discriminated against in the workplace, the most important thing is to let your employer know, in good faith, of the complaint. Doing so gives your employer the chance and ability to remedy the situation.
In many circumstances, you can be prevented from bringing discrimination claims to court against your employer if you did not first try and right the wrong with your employer’s assistance – particularly if your employer has a policy in place for reporting and trying to eradicate discrimination. If you have not at least tried to bring it to their attention, or taken advantage of existing procedures to report or deal with discrimination, your employer can use that as a strong defense against any claims you bring later.
This defense is traditionally referred to in the employment world as a Faragher-Ellerth Defense, named after a pair of supreme court rulings that shaped the current interpretation of these laws.
Who Can I File A Discrimination Claim Against?
Depending on the type of claim and type of discrimination, there are many different and sometimes conflicting rules about which employers can be filed against and the rules that apply.
For example, for the very classic and most common types of discrimination claims, Title-VII protected characteristics like race or religion, come in place under the federal law only for employers that employ 15 people or more. But there are other rules with different conditions, such as, for example, Florida’s Private Whistleblower Act, which employers are subject to if they have 10 or more employees.
So in short, depending on the type of claim and the type of alleged discrimination, the employers who are subject to the rules vary depending on size and in some circumstances, annual earnings. For example, in fair labor standards or cases of retaliation, it might be the employer’s gross earnings rather than just the number of employees which determines validity.
The complexities around who you can claim against, and the conditions necessary to do so, are one of the main reasons why it is so important to consult with an experienced workplace discrimination attorney.
Do Workplace Discrimination Laws Protect Me From Losing My Job If I Become Disabled?
Disability discrimination is not always as clear-cut as other workplace discrimination cases. Florida law can at certain times prevent employees from being terminated if the employer can reasonably accommodate the employee, but not always.
At the end of the day, you and your attorney will have to assess whether, with the disabling condition, you are still able to do the job and meet its occupational qualifications. This can require very specific and case-by-case analysis to apply your limitations to your employer’s workplace rules and requirements to determine, in good faith, whether your needs can be accommodated or not.
Many disabled employees have protections available to them in the workplace, but some employees become so disabled that it isn’t reasonable or expected for the employer to be able to accommodate their disability.
If you have become disabled, you should confer with lawyers to try and define that line of what can be accommodated in your workplace.
What Evidence Does My Florida Employment Discrimination Attorney Need To Determine If My Claim Is Viable?
The best evidence to determine the viability of a claim is direct evidence, for example, a written or recorded slur or reference to a protected characteristic like age or race. You can easily strengthen your claim with documentary evidence, such as writings or emails created in the workplace, as well as testimony from other employees who have witnessed the instance(s) of discrimination.
Unfortunately, most employees don’t like to bite the hand that feeds them and current employees are therefore less likely to be helpful. Past employees, on the other hand, are often a very good resource for employment discrimination, especially if the witness no longer has a connection to, or an affinity for, the employer.
When Should I Hire A Florida Employment Discrimination Attorney For My Workplace Or Employment Discrimination?
If you have tried, unsuccessfully, to discuss the workplace discrimination issue with your employer, it is important to quickly contact a lawyer. In many circumstances, there are quite limited time frames in which you can bring forward a claim alleging employment discrimination.
Therefore, as soon as it becomes apparent that an internal discussion with your employer will not remedy the wrong, you should quickly reach out to a qualified and experienced employment lawyer to ensure you meet those deadlines and have your rights respected.
For more information on Workplace Discrimination & Harassment Claims, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (386) 388-6260 today.