1. The law requires most employers to have an anti-discrimination and “open door” reporting policy. Does your employer have one?
2. Most discrimination laws require that the employer have a certain number of employees to qualify. In most instances, the minimum number of employees is 15, but some local ordinances protect employees who work for smaller employees.
3. To be protected by the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), you must have worked at your employer for at least a year, worked 1250 hours in that year, and your employer must have 50 or more employees.
4. Florida and many other states are called “at will” states, which means employers can fire employees for almost any reason, whether good, bad, or even made up, so long as the reason is not based on something protected like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. Discrimination based on age is prohibited in Florida as well.
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5. You need to use your voice in the workplace. If something is offensive to you- adult jokes, music with improper or racist lyrics, emails, pictures, it’s ok to express your concerns about it to your manager or human resources. The law prohibits your employer from retaliating against you for making a legitimate complaint about something improper or illegal (based on protected categories and not just that you don’t like your work companion’s haircut).
6. Take notes with dates, times, and witnesses, if things are happening, you are complaining, and nothing is being done. It is hard to remember all the facts 3 years later at trial.
7. There are certain time limits for filing discrimination or harassment claims, and they can be as short as 180 days, so if something happens to you in the workplace that is illegal, don’t wait and lose your rights. Once your statute is gone, it’s gone.
8. If you are asked to do something illegal (medicare fraud) or notice something illegal to which you object, you need to put your concerns in writing to your manager. If you are fired for opposing or refusing to engage in illegal activities, you are a whistleblower entitled to legal protection.
9. Discrimination or harassment claims generally require you to suffer what is called an “adverse action” which means a firing, demotion, pay cut, change of job duties, reprimands, or being forced to resign. Not every single type of action by your employer qualifies as “discrimination” or “harassment.
10. The workplace extends beyond the 4 corners of your office. Discriminatory or harassing remarks or actions take place at bars, seminars, in the parking lot, by email, facebook, text, and everywhere else. If someone from work is discriminating against or harassing you anywhere at anytime, you have rights to be protected.
11. I tell my kids that whatever they put on facebook or twitter is out for the world to see. If you are complaining about sexual harassment, don’t have semi nude drunk pictures of yourself on the social media, or if you are complaining about race discrimination, don’t use race driven words in your emails or social posts. All of that evidence is admissible and a jury will see it.
LISTEN AS I DISCUSS MODERN WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION ISSUES
If you have additional questions or concerns about being discriminated against at work, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A.