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Fort Lauderdale Employment Law Blog

Taking time off for an adoption

It may be easy to become too focused on the "medical" portion of the Family and Medical Leave Act and forget that it also includes family matters. Many from Fort Lauderdale come to us here at The Law Office of Michelle Cohen Levy, P.A. asking if that includes preparing for an adoption case. If you have the same question, you will be happy to know that it does. 

As you likely already know, accepting a foster child into your home or preparing to adopt a child can be an extensive process. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Labor states that FMLA guidelines allow you to take time away from work to fulfill the obligations associated with this task, whether they be to: 

  • Attend counseling
  • Complete a physical examination
  • Meet and consult with the child's birth parents (or their legal representatives)
  • Attend court hearings

How can I handle microaggressions?

Microaggressions are seemingly minor expressions of prejudicial sentiment that can have a major impact. Even if the perpetrator meant no harm the victim of the state could be left feeling uncomfortable, offended, and even unwelcome in the workplace. The American Psychological Association offers the following tips on how to address microaggressions in professional settings.

Self-care is crucial when subject to a microaggression. For instance, your self-esteem can be affected if you internalize the problematic behavior of others. In this case, seek out people who’ve had a similar experience to foster a sense of belonging. Also, make sure you’re caring for yourself physically, such as by eating right, getting enough sleep, and exercising. This will help you cope with the stress caused by prejudicial statements or actions.

Understanding workplace disability discrimination

If you are a disabled Florida resident, you likely have concerns about the type(s) of accommodation(s) your employer or a prospective employer needs to make for you. You likely also know that the Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating against you because of your disability.

What you may not realize, however, is that you must qualify for ADA protection. Not only must you possess the necessary qualifications to do your current job or one for which you would like to apply, you also must meet one or more of the following requirements:

  • Your disability must significantly impair your sight, hearing, mobility, speech or your ability to learn.
  • Your employer or prospective employer must believe that you have a permanent disability, whether or not you actually have the disability (s)he believes you have.
  • Your disability must have a history; for instance, maybe you have cancer, but it currently is in remission.

Can my religious beliefs get me fired?

If you are a non-Christian worker in Fort Lauderdale, you have probably wondered if your religious beliefs could get you fired. The unfortunate answer is that an employer may indeed fire you because of your beliefs. While in most instances, non-Christians are the victims of these situations, Christians who work for employers of other belief systems may be affected, too.

Even though your religious beliefs may get you fired, the truth remains that it is illegal. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, religious discrimination occurs when an applicant or employee suffers unfavorable treatment due to their religious beliefs. The EOC also takes it a step further to extend the definition to the spouse. So, for instance, if an employer fires you because of your spouse’s religious beliefs, this is also considered religious discrimination.

Understanding performance evaluation standards

A common response coming from employers in Fort Lauderdale accused of wrongful termination is that the employee involved did not meet the expectations of their position. One might struggle in responding to such a claim because, at face value, it appears to be so subjective. Yet a review of an employee's performance reviews can either prove or disprove such a claim. 

Yet first things first: the question of whether or not performance evaluations are required by law should be addressed. Private companies are not legally required to conduct them (yet those who work with labor unions might have such obligation worked into their agreements). It is generally accepted as a best practice, however, since doing them can serve as a defense to claims of wrongful discrimination or termination

How many hours can a 16-year-old work in a week?

If you are an employer or parent of a teen in Florida, then you should make sure to read and understand the hour restrictions for teen employees. Most teenagers start looking for their first job around the age of 16, so knowing the law for this age is a good place to start.

The Florida Senate does not that hour restrictions for 16-year-old employees do not apply for family-owned businesses. In addition, the superintendent of your teen's school can waive the restrictions if your family has financial hardship reasons for the teen to work. Also, if you teen graduates, the rules do not apply to him or her.

A new approach to sexual harassment at work

Businesses in Florida and across the country have no doubt been grappling with how best to address the seemingly unending number of sexual misconduct cases that are being reported. The issue of fair treatment and a truly harassment-free workplace is one that spans all companies regardless of industry or size. The existing laws appear to have been ineffective in eliminating the problem and that has made some assert that a new approach is needed when it comes to training on this topic.

The Society for Human Resource Management points out that current training on sexual harassment at work tends to focus on avoiding legal troubles or on how to launch a successful defense to a claim. Educating people about basic compliance is simply not working. Instead, the SHRM recommends new training be developed that puts the company culture and collegial respect at the center of the education.

What should I know about maternity leave?

Maternity leave is a confusing topic for expectant mothers in Florida. It’s crucial that you’re well aware of the facts in this case, which can help you identify whether your rights are being violated. The Cut answers the following questions about maternity leave so you can rest assured that you’re being treated fairly by your employer.

Will I be paid while on leave?

Reviewing promotion trends in the U.S.

Nearly every working professional in Fort Lauderdale likely shares the same goal: to have their efforts recognized through a promotion. The concept of promotion assumes that such an achievement is merit-based, yet many cases have shown that career progression can be influenced by factors outside of an employee's control. In certain circumstances, those factors might be motivated by discrimination. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission is quite clear in saying that it is unlawful for an employer to base its decisions regarding promotions on age, sex, race, religious beliefs and sexual orientation. Yet determining when that has happened can be a challenge. 

A review of the statistics detailing professional promotions in the U.S. yields some surprising results. When comparing the promotion rates of different demographics (as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics), one can see that in 2010, a higher percentage of female employees were promoted than men (9.9 percent of the research sample size compared to 6.9 percent, respectively). This may seem to fly in the face of popular assumptions that women struggle more to find career advancement opportunities than men. Seeing a greater emphasis placed on promoting women in the workplace may account for this disparity, yet so too could the fact the more women are seeking careers today than in years past. 

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