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Fort Lauderdale Employment Law Blog

Female supervisors face more sexual harassment at work

Florida readers might assume that most cases of workplace sexual harassment involve subordinates who are harassed by superiors. However, a new study finds that female supervisors are even more likely to be sexually harassed than women who do not hold supervisory positions.

Researchers at the Swedish Institute for Social Research at Stockholm University surveyed workers from Sweden, the United States and Japan and found that women in supervisory positions were more likely to be subjected to sexual harassment. In fact, they found that female supervisors in Sweden were around 30% more likely to face sexual harassment, female supervisors in the U.S. were around 50% more likely to be harassed, and female supervisors in Japan were 100% more likely to experience harassment than women workers without authority. The study also discovered that women with mostly male subordinates were more at risk for sexual harassment.

Proposed bill could strengthen protections for older workers

Workers in Florida and across the United States continue to suffer from age discrimination on the job. Some members of Congress want to take action to improve the situation. The U.S. House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 1230, the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act. If adopted, the bill would amend the original Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibited employers from discriminating against workers age 40 and up. The bill being proposed would add clarity to the evidence that workers need to present in order to make a successful claim for workplace discrimination in court.

In particular, the proposed legislation would allow workers reporting discrimination to use any type of evidence as part of their claim. It would also make clear that employees making an age discrimination claim would not need to prove that their age or another protected characteristic was the only reason they were being mistreated at work. The proposed bill is a response to a Supreme Court decision that held that workers pursuing a legal case for workplace discrimination due to age must show that their age was the direct cause of the termination, denial of promotion or other negative workplace action.

Is your boss cheating you out of the chance to earn overtime?

The recent raise in Florida's minimum wage may be something you have looked forward to for years. Still just a little more than a dollar over the federal standard, every bit helps, especially since you rely on your paycheck to meet your financial obligations and buy the things you need and want. Another thing that helps boost your take-home pay is overtime. You may be one of those who eagerly accepts extra shifts and assignments for the chance at reaching the 40-hour threshold to qualify for overtime.

You know that overtime pay is time and a half your normal pay rate. However, you never seem to see that bump on your paycheck even when it feels like you are regularly on the job more than 40 hours a week. If this is the case, you may want to notice whether there are times when you are working off the clock.

Age discrimination at work

Older workers in Florida and around the country may feel that they are valuable employees who bring wisdom, maturity and experience to their workplaces. Unfortunately, however, there are employers and work colleagues who may not feel the same way. Negative attitudes toward and stereotypes of older workers can lead to a hostile, discriminatory work environment.

Many older workers report verbal harassment and limited opportunities for hiring and advancement. These workers often feel that younger colleagues, managers and executives are unwilling to work past their assumptions that older workers are less savvy about technology, are poor communicators and have less physical stamina than younger people.

Research shows prevalence of workplace sexual violence

According to a national study, close to 1 of every 18 women and 1 of every 40 men have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment. The study was reported in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. Employees who experience sexual misconduct at work in Florida might have actionable claims for damages. According to the study's lead author, sexual violence is both preventable and prevalent and includes unwanted sexual contact, unwanted experiences like sexual remarks or exposure of body parts, coerced or pressured sex and unwanted penetration with use of force or drugs or alcohol.

The research study made use of data gathered by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, covering the years of 2010 to 2012. The data included responses from around 19,000 men and 23,000 women. The research team looked at how prevalent different types of sexual violence were committed by a authority figures and non-authority figures at work. They also examined the effects of being a sexual violence victim, including safety concerns, lost work time and psychological consequences.

"60 Minutes" employee alleges retaliation after complaint

One associate producer at "60 Minutes" on CBS filed a lawsuit accusing the network of gender discrimination and retaliation, troubling some of the news program's many watchers in Florida. The woman alleges she was subjected to further mistreatment after filing a complaint about inappropriate conduct by her supervisor. Based in London, she said that a producer on the program texted her a photo that caused her discomfort and fear. According to the producer, he intended to send the photo to his sister but sent it to his subordinate at work instead.

In response to the lawsuit, CBS declared the company's innocence and said it plans to pursue a vigorous defense. The company said that it had honored the woman's request to not work with the producer after the incident and denied any retaliation against her for filing the complaint. The woman says, however, that the human resources department at the network conducted an investigation, advised her to stay at home if she didn't want to work with the man and encouraged her to meet one-on-one with him to "work through" the problem. She says that she was stripped of all of her responsibilities for the program and essentially terminated after the investigation into her complaint was closed.

Women accuse airline of pregnancy discrimination

Frontier Airlines is a popular choice for flights to and from Florida, but the airline is facing a lawsuit from female flight attendants and pilots who say they were subject to discrimination while pregnant or for being new mothers. They filed two federal lawsuits saying that the airline forced pregnant women to take extended leave, largely without pay. They were ordered to stop flying long before their due dates, months in some cases. Previously, complaints had been made against Frontier to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission citing discrimination against pregnant women.

One flight attendant said that she was forced to go with no pay for months before her pregnancy as well as lose much of her paid time off before giving birth. Frontier stopped her from working once she reached 34 weeks of pregnancy, despite the fact that she wanted to use some of her personal time once her children were born. In addition to the alleged workplace discrimination against pregnant women, the complaints also accuse the airline of discrimination against new mothers. In particular, they argue that breastfeeding women were treated in violation of the law, saying that mothers were denied space to pump breast milk and that pilots were barred from pumping while in flight.

Is your supervisor reassigning you because of your religion?

Perhaps you wear a headscarf at work because of your religion. This has never been a problem in the three years you have been with the car dealership.

You work with the public processing payments, but your new supervisor has other plans for you. He is reassigning you to the bookkeeping office where you will have little or no interaction with customers. Are you a victim of religious discrimination?

Riot Games to pay $10 million to settle discrimination lawsuit

Florida residents who follow the video gaming industry will likely know that several developers and publishers have been accused of allowing toxic work environments to flourish. An investigation into working conditions at Riot Games that was published in 2018 by the video game website Kotaku prompted two female workers to sue the company over alleged violations of California's Equal Pay Act. Media reports on Dec. 12 state that Riot Games has agreed to pay $10 million to settle the lawsuit.

According to the reports, the money will be divided between about 10,000 women who work or worked at Riot Games. The two women who launched the workplace discrimination lawsuit will each receive $10,000. The rest of the women will receive compensation based on the work they performed for the company and the length of their employment. Full-time employees can expect to receive at least $2,500, and temporary workers will be paid at least $500.

Lawmakers hope to broaden FMLA benefits for married couples

The Family and Medical Leave Act requires public and most private sector employers in Florida and around the country to provide their workers with job protection while they take unpaid leave to tend to qualified family and health-related matters. Under the law, eligible workers are able to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks during a 12-month period to recover from a serious illness, take care of an ailing parent or tend to the needs of a new baby. However, the landmark 1993 law allows employers to require married couples to share this unpaid leave.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle believe that married couples should not be penalized in this way because they work for the same employer. A bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 14 that would end restrictions for married couples and allow spouses who share a workplace to each take the unpaid leave allowed under the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act. The bill also allows married couples to take 26 weeks of unpaid leave to take care of an injured or ill relative who is a member of the armed forces. The bipartisan legislation has also been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

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