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Fort Lauderdale Employment Law Blog

What are some ways managers violate FMLA rules?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave to workers for medical issues they or their loved ones are experiencing. There are a number of rules in place dictating the proper FMLA procedures, both for employees as well as employers. According to SHRM.org, many supervisors violate these rules and regulations, both intentionally and unintentionally. This can result in legal woes if a worker files a claim stating that his or her rights have been violated.

An employee cannot be fired for taking approved leave, no matter how a manager might feel about the issue. Even if there are other issues in play, such as behavioral problems or issues with work output, even intimating a firing has to do with the leave or illness is problematic. Managers are also not permitted to discuss medical issues with other workers. Disclosing medical problems or the underlying reason for leave can incur huge legal blowback if the employee in question becomes aware of the disclosure. 

Underpayment and other examples of mistreatment

Many people wake up in the morning and prepare for a long day ahead, in which they will strive to perform their job duties to the best of their ability and earn enough money to support themselves. Unfortunately, not all of these hard-working people are treated fairly by their employers. There are many examples of wage and hour violations that we have covered, and in this post, we will look into underpaid wages and other examples of employer wrongdoing. Sadly, many employees are not paid what they are owed, and some do not even realize it.

There are various reasons why a worker may be underpaid. Sometimes, an employer may forget that someone worked during a particular shift, or accidentally fail to pay them the right amount. Or, an employer may intentionally withhold a portion of a worker's wages, whether they believe that they did not work hard enough to earn full wages or they are trying to get ahead by shorting workers of the wages they deserve. All of these examples are unacceptable, and any worker who has been subjected to this mistreatment (regardless of the reason why) should take action.

Can my employer dictate my hairstyle?

A hairstyle is an often personal, sometimes artistic expression of a person's self. Many people of color experience discrimination in the workplace based on their hairstyles and this issue is becoming more and more relevant as people come forward to speak about discriminatory experiences. In this case, Forbes urges employers to reassess their policies on personal grooming to ensure they're not inadvertently using a discriminatory practice. 

The first step is to consider current policies to see if they contain problematic information. Some language may be racially tinged, even if it doesn't outwardly seem that way. Descriptions of natural hairstyles as unkempt or messy may be forwarding prejudicial beliefs, or in the very least adhering to an outdated concept of professionalism. Additionally, policies must be in place well before they're put in to use. As an example, a policy shouldn't be created on the fly when a new worker arrives with a supposedly problematic hairstyle. 

Are appropriate ADEA rules part of your severance agreement?

Say that you are 48 years old and facing termination along with several other employees because the company you worked for is downsizing. 

You are currently reviewing the termination agreement the company prepared, but you have questions about wordage, ADEA rules and enforceability.

Can you fire someone over a mental illness?

Many workers suffer from some form of mental illness, including things like depression and anxiety. Even if a mental health disorder makes it more difficult to do your job, your employer is not allowed to fire for this reason alone. The U.S. Equal Employment Commission explains how mental disorders must be treated in the place of work to ensure employers are compliant with prevailing regulations. 

When encountering difficulties related to your mental health condition as it relates to work, you're allowed to request a reasonable accommodation from your employer. This means that the workplace will be altered in some way that makes it possible for you to fulfill your job duties. Accommodations usually depend on the person in question and what type of mental health issue he or she is experiencing. For example, some people might need directives to be communicated in a specific way. Others might feel uncomfortable in loud, noisy environments, so they might request a quiet workspace away from other employees.

Can a manager share my tips?

Tipper workers earn every dollar they make by providing fast and efficient service to customers. This is why's it's so distressing to consider a manager or supervisor laying claim to any of these tips. Fortunately, recent legislation has made sure this practice does not occur, thereby protecting tipped workers. However, tip-pooling with traditionally non-tipped staff is permitted, according to Eater

While previous legislation determined that tips are owned by the worker that earned them, and not by management, recently proposed legislation aimed to change that. The fear of many within the restaurant industry was that managers could claim tips and deduct some share for their own financial gain. This practice was deemed unlawful by overriding legislation, which states that an owner cannot claim tips for any reason, regardless of whether a tip credit is taken. If an owner does take workers' tips, he or she is subject to a fine of no more than $1,100 for each violation. Additionally, the owner will also be responsible for repaying any of the collected tips in full to workers. 

What is toxic masculinity in the workplace?

Some common workplace tropes, such as pride in working the most hours or emphasizing a cut-throat process to get ahead, actually have roots in the concept of toxic masculinity. This diminishes the culture of a workplace and can also cause employees to partake in unhealthy competition. Inc. offers the following information so managers can identify these toxic elements and prevent them from doing harm to their workers. 

An emphasis on toxic masculinity in the workplace often includes four unique elements. First, you may be discouraged from showing weakness. Those who come to work ill will often be praised in this case, even though it endangers the health of other workers. Unhealthy competition may also be promoted, such as belittling another worker for not meeting certain goals. The third element involves rewarding a worker for strength as opposed to the quality of their output. Lastly, a toxic work environment usually entails honoring employees who place work above all else in their lives. 

Dealing with the denial of disability discrimination

Those who are subjected to disability discrimination may encounter a number of challenges in their lives, both from a short-term standpoint and a long-term perspective as well. Anger, depression and anxiety are common, especially if someone is struggling with financial problems due to the discrimination or they are facing challenges in their career. Unfortunately, disability discrimination is more prevalent than many people realize, especially since some people have difficulty identifying this type of mistreatment when it takes place. Worse, some managers and employers who break the law deny wrongdoing, which can make it harder for victims to recover.

If you believe that you may have been subjected to disability discrimination, or you know that your rights were violated in this regard, it is imperative to uncover all of the details surrounding the incident(s) that took place. If you have been told to remain silent, or even threatened, you should not let these threats get in the way of your pursuit of justice. Whether you are humiliated, have had to take a lower-paying position even though you should have continued working in the same capacity, your rights as a disabled person were violated at work or you were fired, it is imperative to understand your options as you try to address unlawful workplace behavior.

Are you entitled to paternity leave?

Maternity leave has become such a common component of employee benefit programs both in Fort Lauderdale and throughout the rest of the U.S. that many may simply assume it to be inherent with their employment. Yet what about paternity leave. If your spouse is about to a have a baby, you may want to plan time off to spend with your newborn in order to both bond with it and assist your spouse in her recuperation and recovery. Yet whereas companies typically offer women 12-16 weeks of paid maternity leave, that which is offered to fathers is typically much less. 

According to information shared by the U.S. Department of Labor, currently only three states (of which Florida is not one of them) require that employers offer equal paid leave to both mothers and fathers. Such a gap in paid leave benefits exists even with statistics showing that the percentage of fathers asking for time off to take care of a newborn (or newly adopted) child more than doubled from 2005-2009 compared to 1997-2004. 

What rights do you have as a pregnant woman in the workplace?

Showing up to work every day while pregnant can be challenging under the best of circumstances. If you also experience discrimination because of your condition, it can prove even more difficult. The good news is, your employer may not lawfully discriminate against you for any reason relating to your pregnancy, provided he or she employs a workforce of at least 15 people.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are several regulations in place that may govern how your employer must treat you when you become pregnant. One is the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and the other is Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

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