In addition to wage and hour provisions, both federal and state laws protect employees from unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace.
One of the most common types of unlawful workplace harassment is based on an individual’s sex. The following are some examples of behavior that may constitute unlawful sexual harassment:
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Offensive or obscene gestures or jokes
- Inappropriate physical contact
- Comments regarding sexual activity or sexual preference
- Sharing inappropriate images of a sexual nature
- Comments on appearance, body, or clothing
- Questioning a person on sexual behavior or history
- Making sex a condition for employment decisions
When Do I Need to Hire an Employment Lawyer?
Not only can the above behaviors be disturbing, but they often cause victims to feel helpless as if they have no choice but to tolerate the harassment. If you are continually placed in an uncomfortable position based on unwanted sexual advances, requests, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, call our office for a free consultation
How to Handle a Sexual Harassment Claim
The first recommended step in pursuing a Florida sexual harassment claim is to talk with the individual wrongdoer. As uncomfortable and awkward as this may sound, it is the single best way to potentially get the unwanted actions to stop let alone the perfect way to set up a case. Confronting the wrongdoer will place this individual on notice concerning their behavior.
If a talk fails to stop the unwanted actions, the next step is to place your employer on notice by filing an internal grievance or complaint. This will enable your employer to investigate the issue and the parties involved. Further, the goal of this letter is to allow your employer the opportunity to resolve this matter.
In a sexual harassment lawsuit, we must prove the company knew of the harassment and failed to remedy such. If we can demonstrate the employer neglected to fix the problem or ignored it altogether, a case for punitive damages (meant to punish the wrongdoer) can potentially be made. Check with your HR department or consult your employee handbook about how to properly register the complaint.
Taking these steps will make your case much stronger. However, there is no such thing as a perfect case and we offer a free consultation to evaluate the potential and discuss any prospective sexual harassment claim. You never have to simply accept unlawful sexual harassment at work. Contact us to discuss your legal rights today.
What to Do About Unlawful Workplace Discrimination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Florida Civil Rights Act, and additional employment laws protect employees from unlawful discriminatory actions based on the following factors:
- Sex, gender, or pregnancy
- National origin
- Marital status
- Physical or mental disability (real or perceived)
- Genetic information
Employers cannot base employment decisions on any of these factors, including hiring, promotions/demotions, job transfers, discipline, or termination. Employers are also required to make reasonable accommodations for employees based on needs related to religious beliefs or disabilities. Such accommodations may include allowing an employee to wear a headscarf despite a dress code prohibiting headwear or providing technology that assists with hearing or vision impairments.
In addition to the above types of unlawful discrimination, employers are also prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for military service under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA).
It is important to note that there are no federal laws protecting employees from LGBT discrimination. However, there are many counties and cities that have local laws and ordinances prohibiting discrimination.
Anyone who believes they have suffered unlawful discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination at work should contact the experienced employment attorneys at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA as soon as possible to help you stand up for your legal rights.
How Do Discrimination Laws Protect Employees?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits an employer with fifteen (15) or more employees from acts of discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, or national origin. In accordance with Title VII, it is a violation of federal law for an employer to take any of the following punitive actions against an employee based on race, religion, gender, or national origin:
- Terminate employment
- Punish, discipline or demote
- Deny promotion
- Failing to provide training
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is the federal agency that is charged with enforcing the various laws that protect employees from discrimination. Victims of employment discrimination will usually file a claim with them that they will investigate to determine if discrimination did in fact take place. The EEOC also provides a variety of resources to discriminated employees to help them seek justice, interpret employment discrimination law, assist in settlement negotiation between employees and employers, and provide “right to sue” letters allowing an employee to take legal action.
Keep in mind that discrimination based on gender includes discriminatory actions due to pregnancy. Not only are employees barred from taking these actions against a pregnant employee, but federal law also prohibits an employer from asking questions of a pregnant applicant they would not ask of an individual who is not pregnant. Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against employees who may become pregnant.
Further, employers cannot require an employee to give notice of a pregnancy unless it serves a legitimate business purpose. For more information concerning pregnancy discrimination, contact us.
*The above information was written and reviewed by either Attorney Matthew Dolman or another injury lawyer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA which has a combined 90 plus years of experience practicing Florida personal injury law. Matthew Dolman himself has been practicing personal injury law in Clearwater and St. Petersburg for the last fifteen (15) years. The information provided comes from extensive research and years of experience trying legal cases in courtrooms throughout Florida.
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