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Fort Lauderdale Employment Law Blog

Study finds 61% of U.S. workers encounter discrimination

Approximately three out of every five employees in Florida and throughout the U.S. have suffered or witnessed workplace discrimination based on age, gender, race, sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a new survey. The survey, entitled "The 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Study," was conducted by the Harris Poll and published by Glassdoor.

The survey questioned over 1,100 U.S. workers about their experiences with discrimination in the workplace. In addition, several thousand workers from the U.K., France and Germany were asked about the same issues. The poll found that 61% of American workers reported experiencing or seeing others experience some form of on-the-job discrimination. Meanwhile, 55% of U.K. workers, 43% of French workers and 37% of German workers reported the same.

Race discrimination still a major problem at work

While many companies in Florida and across the country have expressed their commitment to diversity in the workplace, racial discrimination continues to pose a significant problem for workers in a wide range of industries. Around 33% of employed Americans said that they had experienced or seen some form of discrimination based on race according to an online survey conducted by Glassdoor, an employment review site. A Glassdoor spokesperson said that companies should examine the results of the study to implement more meaningful policies to combat discrimination and improve diversity.

Over 5,000 people participated in the international study, including employees in the United States as well as those in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Of the respondents, 31% said that they had either witnessed or were the victim of race discrimination on the job. Another 25% said that they had experienced or seen discriminatory conduct based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Even more said that they had witnessed or experienced sex discrimination on the job. In total, a full 61% of the American respondents reported that they had seen or experienced some form of sexism, racism or anti-LGBT discrimination on the job. In the United Kingdom, 55% said the same, while 43% in France and 37% in Germany reported workplace discrimination. Many incidents went unreported, although young workers were twice as likely to report workplace discrimination incidents.

3 critical pieces of evidence for a workplace retaliation claim

Succeeding in today’s workplace is challenging enough without having to worry about discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity or another protected class. Unfortunately, illegal discrimination is not exactly rare in the Sunshine State. Nevertheless, your employer should not retaliate against you for complaining about impermissible workplace discrimination. 

If you believe your employer has engaged in illegal workplace retaliation, you have one year to file a claim with the Florida Department of Human Relations. Here are three critical pieces of evidence to support your claim: 

Supreme Court to rule in ADEA case

Florida residents and others over the age of 40 are generally covered by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). This legislation applies to those who work in the private sector as well as for the government. However, the 9th Circuit ruled that age discrimination is acceptable as long as it isn't the main reason why an employment decision was made. The same conclusion was reached in another case heard by the 11th Circuit.

This conflicted with a ruling that was made by the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. It said that a plaintiff only needs to show that age bias played some role in an employment decision. As the federal appeals courts were in conflict with each other, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling on the matter. Its ruling will come in the case involving the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Study finds female bosses face uphill battle at work

Research indicates that workers in Florida and elsewhere may not take kindly to being criticized by a female boss. A study hired 2,700 workers to transcribe receipts for a hypothetical boss who was given either a male or female name. After completing the task, a percentage of those workers were given feedback from their hypothetical managers. Generally speaking, participants were less enthusiastic about their work after receiving criticism from a woman as opposed to receiving it from a man.

They were also less likely to want to continue working for a company if they had been criticized by a female manager. This was true whether the worker was a male or a female, and that could have implications for future generations of female leaders. In some cases, they may not want to become managers or leaders in their companies if their words impact others in a negative fashion.

Workplace discrimination hinders career advancement

Despite the many legal workplace protections, too many workers continue to face discrimination in Florida and across the United States. The U.S. Supreme Court is now hearing several cases addressing discrimination against workers on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. These cases have thrown a light on the general issue of workplace discrimination nationwide. While the Obama administration's Justice Department and some appeals courts have considered these matters to be a form of sex discrimination, the Trump administration and others disagree.

The #MeToo movement brought attention to sexual harassment on the job. However, there are many other forms of discrimination that women continue to encounter in the workplace. Many of these cases never go to court, and a large number never even see a formal complaint filed with relevant government agencies. In the United States, only around 6% of civil rights cases ever go to trial. Of course, the road to even filing a lawsuit is long. Many workers never complain about unfair treatment because they are concerned about retaliation.

Understanding differential pay

Many in Fort Lauderdale define a workday as beginning at around 9:00 a.m. and continuing until 5:00 p.m. Indeed, this is standard work week recognized by most. Yet countless people work outside of these hours, plying their trades in the evening or late night. Working such a schedule an exact a physical and psychological toll on a person, yet there are some industries that demand that their practitioners be available at all times. 

Companies that operate within such industries often offer use shift differential pay as an incentive to get people to fill odd-hour shifts. Differential pay is an augmented pay rate paid to those who work outside of non-traditional hours. It is typically offered as an added percentage of the standard hourly rate for a position. For example, according to the compensation guidelines for the United States Office of Personnel Management, federal government workers who qualify as prevailing rate employees are eligible to be at a differential rate of an additional 7.5 percent of their average salary when the majority of their hours are worked between 3 p.m. to midnight, and 10 percent of their average salary if they work 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. (those whose schedules overlap the different differential time frames are paid at the rate for which they worked a majority of their hours). 

New NPRM for tip regulation

An employee's pay plays a strong part in determining the quality of life that the employee is able to sustain. As such, it can be quite beneficial for employees to stay abreast of current laws.

The Department of Labor is looking to make changes to the current employment law with a new tip regulation proposal. There are a few important things to understand about this possible change.

$1.2 million awarded to police officer in harassment lawsuit

When one experiences sexual harassment in the workplace in Fort Lauderdale, it can easily feel like a violation of both their dignity and safety. The uneasiness that they feel is something that should be respected, not judged. It is for this very reason that employers who have been notified that such a violation has taken place are expected to act rather than be the adjudicators as to whether or not an offense actually took place. Oftentimes, the accuser is not even looking to get the person who harassed them in trouble, but rather is simply trying to escape the situation. When employers fail to act appropriately in such situations, they open themselves up to liability claims. 

Just how seriously is the inaction of an employer in response to a sexual harassment claim taken? One need only look at the recent case of a Kentucky police officer. She notified her major that a male colleague has sent a picture of his genitals to her via text. She also said that he would follow her around when he was off duty. Her major's response, however, was to both justify the other officer's actions by claiming that his sending the picture to her was likely unintentional and to deter her from pursuing a sexual harassment claim for fear of the negative publicity it might bring. The woman instead filed a lawsuit against the department, which resulted in her being awarded a $1.2 million settlement

What are the exceptions to at-will employment?

At-will employment is in place to benefit both workers and employers. It means that employers can let a worker go at any time without reason, but workers are also free to resign from their positions without fear of recrimination. It's not permissible to fire a worker for any reasons deemed discriminatory, and there are other exceptions to at-will policies that employers must adhere to when terminating their workers. The Balance offers the following information. 

Some workplaces, particularly those with salaried workers, implement employment contracts upon hiring. These contracts have stipulations regarding employment, including things like work duties, pay, and other important considerations. These stipulations override policies regarding at-will employment and must be followed or employers run the risk of being the subject of a lawsuit. It's crucial that workers fully understand the terms of their contracts to ensure they're being followed. 

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