Many forms of discrimination can exist in a workplace. Discrimination can be proven in a variety of ways, including: direct evidence, circumstantial evidence, pattern or practice evidence or workplace policies that have a disparate impact on a particular group or class of individuals.
Different types of employment discrimination claims are viewed differently by courts. For example, an employee that feels that he or she was terminated from their job because of their disability has to prove several elements of their claim (Does the condition meet the definition of “disability” under the law? Can they perform the essential functions of their job with or without a reasonable accommodation?) in order to prevail. On the other hand, the burdens of proof in a claim under the Equal Pay Act are different than other forms of discrimination.
The Tampa employment lawyers at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens are available to discuss your case with you, and can help you determine if you were a victim of employment discrimination.
What Kind of Workplace Discrimination Happens in Tampa?
Federal laws against workplace discrimination apply to Florida employers, but only if those employers have 15 or more employees. State anti-discrimination laws apply to all employers with 15 or more employees. However, a few exceptions to this do exist. For example, federal age discrimination laws apply to employers with 20 or more employees, citizenship status discrimination laws apply to employers with four or more employees, and equal pay laws for men and women apply to all employers regardless of workforce size.
It’s important to note that no state laws are currently in place that prohibit discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation, but several local statutes throughout Florida have banned these types of discrimination.
Sexual harassment is a problem in many workplaces. Sexual harassment can include any type of action that makes an employee uncomfortable or unable to do his or her job based on his or sex or sexual characteristics. Unwelcome sexual advances, sexually charged comments and jokes, degrading profanity, and displays of pornographic or sexual material in workspaces may all constitute sexual harassment.
When an employer makes employment-related decisions about an employee based on the employee’s sex, the employer commits sexual discrimination and violated federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Employees who experience sexual harassment at work should start by reporting the incident through internal channels to reach an acceptable solution. If the employer takes any adverse action against an employee for submitting a sexual harassment complaint, the employer may face retaliation charges.
Employees have the right to file complaints against their employers if they file such complaints in good faith. They also have the right to not face negative consequences for doing so, as filing a workplace discrimination complaint is a protected action.
Hostile Work Environment
Many workplace discrimination lawsuits refer to the term hostile work environment. Creating a hostile work environment for an employee based on a protected status is a violation of anti-discrimination laws. For example, if an employee has a disability that does not interfere with his or her job duties and the employee’s supervisor makes rude jokes or ridicules the employee for his or her disability, this can easily create a hostile work environment for the employee and make it difficult or impossible for the employee to complete his or her duties.
Some coworkers and supervisors may create hostile work environments unintentionally. For example, a workplace full of people who have worked together for years may have a tight rapport and joke about things that may be unacceptable in other workplaces. A new employee may not enjoy this type of atmosphere or may take offense but could potentially resolve the problem internally. If the original team was to continue making work difficult for the new employee after he or she expressed discomfort, he or she may then have grounds for a hostile work environment lawsuit.
Florida law also prohibits discrimination based on medical conditions, carrying the sickle cell trait, or having HIV or AIDS. Employees with these medical conditions should consult with an attorney as soon as possible if they feel that an employment-related decision hinged on medical status. For example, an employee receives a cancer diagnosis and his employer fires the employee shortly after notifying the employer of his diagnosis. Unless the employer had some reasonable justification for firing the employee, the employer cannot simply terminate employment based on a medical diagnosis, even if an employee with such a diagnosis may be a slight financial liability to the company for health insurance claims and required time off for cancer treatments.
Other type of Employment Discrimination can include:
- Forced Resignation/Constructive Discharge
- Failure to Promote
- Pay Disparities (Equal Pay)
- Loss of Benefits
- Job Recruitment
- Refusing a Reasonable Accommodation for Disability
- Refusing a Reasonable Accommodation for Religion
- Dress Codes
Workplace Discrimination Definition
The essence of workplace discrimination is that one employee is treated less favorably than another employee.
This can include employment discrimination based on:
- national origin
- marital status
- genetic information
Ultimately, a jury will try and determine the motive or intent of the person or people that were allegedly discriminating against the worker. Generally, motive or intent is established through circumstantial evidence, which is why it is important to have an employment attorney evaluate your potential legal claim. Do you believe that your employer discriminated against you or took adverse employment actions against you due to a similar situation? If so, Our Tampa Work Discrimination Lawyers at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens are here to help.
What Proof Do I Need to File a Discrimination Case?
To have a successful workplace discrimination claim, you will need certain types of evidence supporting your belief that an employer did not treat you fairly because of your race, gender, or other protected class. Proving discrimination takes presenting a case against your employer to prove the company more likely than not is guilty of the crime. It’s not enough to have a gut feeling; the courts will require hard evidence. The sooner you starting collecting evidence of discrimination, the stronger your case will be. The following is a partial list of proof you might be able to use against a defendant:
- Direct evidence such as a statement from your employer
- Memos, notes, or letters from your employer
- Verbal comments that point to discrimination
- Circumstantial evidence such as being part of a protected class and losing a job
- Evidence of someone treating you differently because of your class
- Witness statements regarding derogatory comments
- Evidence showing an employer’s bias or favoritism
- Violation of a company’s policies
It is rare to have direct evidence of workplace discrimination. Instead, most cases rely on circumstantial evidence. Many clients come to us with the fear that they won’t have a case if it’s just their words against their employers’. Even if you don’t have any hard evidence that you were the victim of discrimination, talk to our Tampa attorneys. We can hire expert investigators to look into your situation and help you find and collect any available evidence. Even if other lawyers have told you that you don’t have a viable claim, contact us. Our Tampa employment attorneys may have a solution.
Can My Next Job Discriminate Against Me for Filing a Suit Against a Previous Employer?
As an employee who has already faced discrimination, whistleblowing, and retaliation, you might think your hardest times as an employee are over. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. Trying to find a different job after reporting a previous employer may prove difficult. Even though it’s technically illegal to discriminate against a job applicant for involvement in a lawsuit against a prior employer, companies may be guilty of this type of wrongdoing.
While there are rare exceptions to the rule, for the most part an employer cannot turn an applicant down just for collecting a settlement or judgment in the past. Yet an employee can find it difficult to explain the details of a past discrimination lawsuit to a new employer. If the new employer finds out about your legal history and then bases the decision not to hire you on this information, you could have an additional discrimination claim against the new employer. This, however, might not be the way you want to start a new job.
Do I Have to Disclose a Whistleblower Claim When Applying for a New Job?
No law exists on a federal or state level that makes it mandatory for job applicants to disclose a history of discrimination or other type of lawsuit to a new prospective employer. Know that if your discrimination case went to trial, however, this information is part of public record and could come up on a background check. If your case settled without going to trial, it is a closed record that may come with different rules. Discuss your particular claim with the discrimination lawyers at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens for more information.
Contact Our Tampa Work Discrimination Lawyers
Florin Gray Bouzas Owens is dedicated to protecting Florida’s workers from disparate treatment in the workplace. If you believe that you are a victim of discrimination in the workplace, please contact our office for a free consultation or call us at (727) 254-5255.
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