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What is Workplace Discrimination and How to Fight Back

Florida is an at-will state and employees may be fired at any time with little to no cause. However, workplace discrimination is not included in at-will terminations. If you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination, you can – and should – fight back.

What is Workplace Discrimination?

Workplace discrimination includes any “adverse employment action” (including termination; being passed over for promotions; withholding favorable accounts, training, group work, etc.) which occurs for any of the following reasons:

  • Discrimination, may or may not contribute to a hostile work environment
  • Whistleblowing, also known as reporting your company for illegal actions or fraud
  • Unpaid overtime or unpaid wages, including being transferred to another department without receiving commission owed or being shortchanged because of an incorrect calculation in overtime
  • Existing wage and hour disputes or recently paid out disputes

If you are wondering whether you are a victim of discrimination, look for these signs.

In addition to guarding against discrimination, employers are required by law to provide a safe environment for employees. Employees should not feel harassed, nor should they be forced to endure a hostile work environment. If you feel this is not the case with your place of employment, you do not need to suffer in silence.

What Should I do if I’m being Discriminated Against?

Although the law is clear on the protected classes and the unacceptable discrimination, the burden of proof falls on the employee. Because of this you’ll want to:

  1. Review the events surrounding the employment action and gather up documentation to support your claims. These could include emails, notes on conversations, recordings, texts, and/or journal entries. Include the dates and times of each event as well as the people involved.
  2. If you’re still employed, talk to your manager or Human Resources (HR) representative about your concerns and try their recommendations on how to alleviate the problem first.
  3. If they are unable to resolve the issue, or if you have already been terminated, gather your documentation, including your conversations with HR and/or your manager, and consult with an attorney specializing in employment law.

Timing is Critical in Workplace Discrimination Cases

Timing plays a big role in employment discrimination cases. You have 365 days after the last “adverse employment action” to pursue a claim under Florida Law. (300 days by federal law.)

Before pursuing a claim, you have to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). In Florida, there is a “workshare agreement” between the federal EEOC and the state FCHR, meaning a claim filed in one is generally accepted to be filed in both.

The commission will then investigate the allegations in the charge and may issue a right-to-sue letter. This typically takes 180 days but there is no reason to go through this process alone.

If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated, or have questions regarding your employment rights, contact Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. today to schedule your free consultation at 813-579-2483.

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