Discrimination at work comes in many forms, and, unfortunately, it is still too common. But Florida discrimination laws, as well as Federal laws, are in place to protect millions of workers around the state.
Do you know what is considered discrimination at work? You may have experienced certain actions and did not realize that you could have a case.
What is Discrimination at Work?
Discrimination at work is any behavior that specifically targets an individual based on a personal attribute that is protected by law, which could include:
It is illegal for employees to be discriminated against at work. If you have been targeted at work by your boss, manager, co-worker, vendor, or even a customer, you may have a case. Discrimination may occur in all areas of employment — including but not limited to the hiring process, benefits, promotions, scheduling, and termination.
Employment Discrimination Laws that Protect Florida Workers
There are several laws that employees should be aware of that address your rights to a safe, discrimination-free workplace. The Florida Civil Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 cover a wide range of behaviors that protect employees from discrimination at work.
Other legislation focuses on specific protected attributes, including the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Title I (ADA). These laws are on the books to not only prevent discrimination at work in the first place but also to hold employers accountable for illegal behavior and to keep it from happening to anyone else at the company again.
Examples of Discrimination at Work
Acquiring an understanding of what is considered discrimination at work is vital if you may have a case. Here are some examples:
- Not hiring a woman because she is pregnant, or the employer thinks she may soon become pregnant
- Forcing an employee to retire because of their age
- Mistreating an employee based solely on their race, skin color, ethnicity, or country of origin
- Sexually harassing an employee through inappropriate touching or language
- Not giving a woman a promotion specifically because of her sex
- Denying an employee disability leave, retirement options, or maternity leave
- Making inappropriate/offensive comments based on personal characteristics
- Terminating an employee based on a feature or attribute
Discrimination at work can have severe effects on an employee’s ability to perform well on the job. You may even feel hesitant to go to work because of harassment by your manager or a co-worker. It can not only affect you personally, but discrimination at work can have a significant impact on your career, your financial future, and your family life too. You have the right to sue for discrimination at work and hold your employer accountable for illegal actions.
Proving Your Employment Discrimination Case
Before filing a case against your employer, a discrimination complaint/claim must first be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC will then review the claim and make a decision based on the information that is provided. Ideally, it is best to work with an employee rights lawyer throughout the process. You do not need to go to the EEOC directly on your own before retaining an attorney. Experienced attorneys know the depth of information that is needed and the best way to present it to prove discrimination at work. Experienced attorneys will advise you on the process and take steps to move that process forward in a timely manner. You do not need to allow your charge of discrimination to sit for months or years awaiting a determination from the EEOC.
There are time limitations to filing an EEOC claim, so it is crucial not to delay filing a complaint.
Since Florida is an “at-will” state, an employer can fire you for any reason (that is not illegal). If you have been explicitly fired due to being pregnant, wearing a religious head covering, for complaining about sexual harassment, or other protected characteristics or attributes, there are specific areas that need to be addressed in proving your discrimination at work case.
Primarily, this involves proof of motive and/or inequality. Sometimes, an employer will be blatant about their discriminatory behavior because they think they can get away with it. Did your employer say specifically that you were being fired because of your sex, age, ability, or race? Even if there was not a blatant statement, there are still other ways discrimination at work can be proven.
An example of inequality can be when your boss will allow an employee to have religious holidays off (or even every Sunday off) and will not let you have your personal religious holidays off as well. They do not have to tell you directly that it is because of your religious affiliation – their actions speak for themselves.
Some of the things you can personally do to prove discrimination at work:
- Document illegal behavior such as harassing language that includes dates, times, who said it, and if there were any witnesses to the behavior
- Save any harassing voicemails, texts, or emails
- Save copies of work schedules, applications for promotions, and employee handbooks
- Save copies of any relevant employee reviews, memos, or letters
- Save any offensive jokes or photos sent to you via text or email
When you work with an employment lawyer, you can confidentially discuss the details of your case. They are with you each step of the way and will aggressively advocate for your rights.
Get the Legal Help You Deserve
Have you been sexually harassed at work? Were you forced to retire from your job because of your age? When your civil rights have been violated, we lead as your legal advocate and fight hard for justice.
If you have had to deal with the consequences of discrimination at work, we are here to help.
Contact us today to set up a free, confidential consultation. We are the employee’s law firm— a tireless legal team fighting for your rights.