American legislators have taken extensive efforts to ensure that US employees maintain a strong set of rights within the workplace. A wealth of federal and state laws protect these rights. Everything from unfair compensation to unlawful discrimination and harassment could lead to big trouble for employers—our laws see to it.
Unfortunately, a disturbing number of employers nationwide attempt to take advantage of their employees regardless of such laws. The good news for victims of employee mistreatment is that the justice system is on their side. If your employer refuses to offer you critical information or discriminates against you for any reason, you have a right to pursue compensation for the resulting damages. Speak with the employment attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today.
Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA: Serving Victims of Harassment, Unpaid Wages, and More
The Dolman team is all too familiar with Florida employers who refuse to treat their employees fairly. Whether they practice harassment, they allow others to practice harassment, or they refuse to pay employees’ wages, these individuals deserve to be brought to justice. We understand the incredible stress and fear associated with bringing a case against your employer—and we’re here to help.
At The Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we pride ourselves on acting as our clients’ partners. Through empowerment, education, and a deep understanding of federal and state laws, our attorneys work tirelessly to help clients pursue just compensation in court.
If you or somebody that you know has been impacted by a failure to follow employment law, contact us today. Our team is ready and waiting to offer you further information.
What Types of Cases Can an Employment Lawyer Help With?
Florida employment lawyers can assist employees within the state. Virtually any type of illegal activity that occurs within the workplace falls under the umbrella of employment law. Examples of primary case foci include unpaid wages, overtime, harassment, and employment discrimination.
Defining harassment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines harassment as “unwelcome conduct…based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.” Harassment in and of itself is not necessarily unlawful. Instead, this sort of treatment must meet certain conditions before a victim can build a case against the perpetrator. The EEOC states that harassment crosses into unlawful behavior when:
- The victim’s endurance of the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or
- The conduct is so pervasive and/or severe that it creates a work environment which would be considered hostile, abusive, or intimidating by any reasonable person
Isolated incidents do NOT, generally, qualify legally as harassment. The EEOC notes that exceptions do occur in the event of extremely serious circumstances, but this is rare.
Other prohibited instances of harassment. Federal harassment laws tend to center around a circumstance meeting certain conditions. Most of the guidelines that help us define harassment have little to do with the details of how, exactly, that harassment takes place (or what caused it). Some anti-discrimination laws, however, do explicitly prohibit harassing individuals who have:
- Filed a discrimination charge
- Testified or participated in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws
Sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is one of the most pervasive forms of harassment in today’s workplace. Many people believe that only women can be targeted in instances of sexual harassment; this couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst it’s true that most of the statistics available today center around women’s experiences with sexual harassment, men can be victimized just as easily.
You may be surprised to find that perpetrators and victims of abuse are not always the people that you suspect. Victims may be harassed by trusted superiors such as supervisors or managerial staff from other areas. They can, similarly, fall victim to co-workers, non-employees, and even agents of their employers. In fact, sexual harassment can create more victims than the person who is the target of harassment. Anybody who is impacted by offensive conduct—sexual or otherwise—that qualifies as harassment is a victim of that harassment.
Many of us are aware that sexual harassment takes place in American workplaces. In fact, 81 percent of surveyed individuals believe that sexual harassment occurs in a majority of workplaces throughout the country. This awareness feels encouraging, but consider this: of those same surveyed individuals, 90 percent of them believed that sexual harassment was NOT a factor in their own workplaces.
Unfortunately, an NBC survey from 2017 indicates that fewer than 20 percent of American companies have taken steps to discuss appropriate conduct, improve sexual harassment policies, or implement training regarding the topic. Employers’ consistent failure to address this serious problem leaves countless victims of workplace harassment feeling isolated and fearful.
Some instigators of sexual harassment may try to convince their victims that their actions do not qualify as harassment. In other cases, victims may struggle to understand what constitutes harassment—how can they differentiate between unwanted advances and behavior that’s worth a legal claim? We’ve included a few examples of some of the most common forms of workplace sexual harassment to give victims a glimpse into the actions that qualify:
- Requests or insistence for sexual favors
- Obscene gestures
- Inappropriate jokes
- Excessive or inappropriate physical contact
- Comments or questions centering around sexual topics (such as sexuality, sexual preferences, etc.)
- Undesired sexual advances
- Creating a sex condition that influences employment decisions
Florida employees’ wages are protected by both federal and state laws. The federal Fair Labor Standard Act (also known as the FLSA) and the Florida Minimum Wage Act both grant employees the right to earn a minimum wage for their time in the workplace. Similar laws exist to ensure that the bulk of employees who work more than 40 hours in a single week receive overtime pay.
Whilst federal minimum wage laws only guarantee individuals $7.25 per hour for their work, Florida’s employment laws are more generous. Floridians, under state law, must be compensated a minimum of $8.46 per hour.
Some other important concepts to note include:
- ALL hours worked MUST be appropriately compensated | This guideline is broad for a reason. Employees within the state of Florida must receive a minimum of $8.25 per hour for every hour spent performing work-related activities. This includes preparing or cleaning workstations before a shift gets into full swing or finishing paperwork at the end of the day
- Your employer cannot request your presence without compensation | For example—pretend you work nights at a local restaurant and your typical shift begins at five in the evening. If your manager asked you to arrive twenty minutes beforehand, at 4:40, but insisted that you wait to clock in until five, it would be unlawful
If you believe that you have performed work for which you were unfairly compensated, you have a legal right to pursue the appropriate compensation (and compensation for other damages) in court. The Florida Minimum Wage Act gives employees the freedom to bring a lawsuit in civil court to pursue unpaid wages.
The laws that govern allowable wages within Florida also dictate which circumstances trigger additional pay for employees. One such circumstance involves an employee working overtime. Any time spent working beyond a total of 40 hours per workweek qualifies as overtime. The vast majority of employers within the state MUST pay their employees overtime if this requirement is met.
One important concept to consider is that every state’s overtime laws are different. You may have heard of friends or family members in other states who received overtime pay simply for working a certain amount of hours in a single day. Florida does not, generally, grant its work base overtime in cases like these. There is no specified daily overtime limit for Floridian employees.
The one exception to this rule applies to manual laborers. If you are a manual laborer in Florida and work more than ten hours in a single workday, you are entitled to overtime for those additional hours.
Overtime minimum wage. Technically, there’s a minimum wage for overtime just like the minimum wage for typical hours worked. Overtime pay, also known as “time-and-a-half,” is equal to one and a half times an employee’s typical hourly wage. Because Florida’s minimum wage is $8.46 per hour, the state overtime minimum wage is equal to $12.69 per hour.
Keep in mind that employees earning more than the state minimum wage are also entitled to overtime pay. Your hourly wage has no impact on your ability to earn and receive overtime pay. Some occupations are even singled out by federal overtime laws:
- First responders are offered specialized overtime protection
- This includes police, paramedics, and firefighters
- Paralegals and practical nurses are also protected by federal overtime laws
- Unfortunately, exploitation is rife in these industries due to the long work hours associated with these jobs; federal laws serve to protect these employees from overwork
Discrimination within the workplace can take on ugly and deeply painful forms. Federal and state employment laws were created with the specific intent to stave off workplace discrimination. In fact, some of the most basic foundations of the concept can be traced to 1964. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which was put into place that same year, prohibits workplace discrimination based on:
- Sex, gender, or pregnancy
- Marital status
- National origin
- Real or perceived physical or mental disability
- Genetic information
If any of these factors play a role in an employer’s hiring decisions, they are committing an act (or acts) of discrimination. Not only is this practice deeply unlawful, but it can have a tremendously negative impact on impacted individual’s lives. Discrimination may prevent somebody from earning enough money to pay their living expenses or cause them immense emotional distress.
Hiring decisions aren’t the only choices that employers must avoid discriminating during. They also may not promote, demote, transfer, discipline, or terminate any employee on a basis of discrimination.
To avoid discrimination, employers must offer reasonable accommodations to employees with varying religion- or disability-based needs. This includes clothing that may be out of dress code, time off on days of worship, etc.
The dangers of employment and workplace discrimination. Employment discrimination feeds into a toxic and negative working environment. Not only does it deeply impact those who are targets of this behavior, but it creates a profound ripple effect. Every employee working for an employer who practices discrimination will feel the consequences of that behavior. In some cases, discrimination may even pervade the business as a whole.
Our Clearwater Employment Lawyers Can Help You
At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, our attorneys understand your unique and uncertain position better than anybody. We are deeply empathetic to the immense intimidation that you may feel at the prospect of bringing a claim against your employer. Our attorneys understand that you may feel uncertain of what the future may hold should you pursue legal recourse. It’s why we constantly re-commit to empowering our clients, and strive every day to hold perpetrators of sexual harassment and discrimination accountable.
Our Clearwater employment lawyers work closely with each client on an individual basis. The Dolman team seeks to educate those we serve; our knowledge could help change your life, and our team of compassionate associates is passionate about achieving justice.
If a Clearwater employer violated your rights, you can reach our offices around the clock. Each prospective client receives a free, confidential consultation with an associate to determine whether our team is the best fit for their case. Give us a call at 833-552-7274, and allow us to help you build a plan for moving forward.
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765