Employment Discrimination Attorneys Dedicated to Protecting Workers Treated Unfairly On The Job
Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, from unfair hiring processes to harassment.
If you or a loved one has suffered discrimination at work, an employment discrimination attorney from Chanfrau & Chanfrau can help you stand up for your rights.
So how do I know if I have suffered employment discrimination?
What Is Workplace Discrimination?
Unfavorable treatment by an employer towards any worker or applicant based on race, religion, gender, age, disability, pregnancy, genetic factors, or national origin can constitute taking legal action. When a worker is passed over for a promotion or denied employment based upon one of these factors, employment discrimination issues come into play. There are both state and federal laws prohibiting these practices, and affected workers are entitled to compensation. The key is to collect and present compelling evidence that proves wrongdoing on the part of an employer, and hiring an attorney is the surest way to accomplish this.
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Types Of Employment Discrimination
The first step in making a claim is to identify the type of discrimination. The most common forms of discrimination relate to:
- Age: Employees 40 years or older are protected by federal law from unfair treatment at work based on age.
- Gender: Workers and applicants deserve equal treatment, regardless of gender. Gender discrimination can take many forms, including paying a lower wage based on sex.
- Race: Employees who are mistreated due to their race may have grounds for a lawsuit. It is unlawful for employers to promote one worker over another based on race, or set salaries for the same position at different rates for workers of different races.
- Disability: The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination toward workers with physical disabilities. Employers are also required to provide ADA access to their facilities.
- Religion: Discrimination on the job for holding certain religious beliefs is unlawful. These beliefs can include what is generally considered traditional religions as well as other belief systems.
- Nationality: Discriminating against an employee who is legally permitted to work in the United States based on his or her country of origin is unlawful.
- Pregnancy: An expecting mother is entitled to the same benefits and considerations as every other worker or applicant.
- Sexual orientation: Employers cannot discriminate based on sexual preferences.
- Genetic information: An employee or applicant's individual DNA makeup can require costly health care to meet special needs. Discrimination based on genetic information is grounds for legal action.
Discrimination is prohibited in:
- Job classification
- Job assignments
As our client, you can focus on rebuilding your professional life while we work to protect your rights.
What Constitutes Gender Discrimination?
Under both federal and state law, it is illegal for an employer to treat employees or applicants inequitably due to their gender or sex. Although these laws are in place to protect people of any gender, women are the most common targets of gender discrimination in the workplace.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to employers in the private sector, state and local governments, and educational institutions. Furthermore, the law protects individuals from both gender discrimination and harassment. In addition, Florida employees are further protected by the Florida Civil Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status."
If you have been discriminated against in a situation involving any term or condition of employment, you may have a case for a gender discrimination lawsuit. For example, if you apply for a promotion and discover you were passed over for an employee of a different gender with less experience or training than you, this action may qualify as a discriminatory business practice.
Any actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment can be considered gender discrimination.
You are also protected against sexual harassment in the workplace. Harassment can take many forms, such unwelcome advances and requests for sexual favors. Any actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment can be considered gender discrimination.
Racial Discrimination: Your Title VII and Florida Law Protections
The Florida Civil Human Rights Act offers the most comprehensive state-level protection against discrimination. It dictates that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against employees or applicants on the basis of “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.”
In addition to state-level protections, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 covers all employers in the private sector, state and local governments, and education institutions. All terms and conditions of employment should be equally available to all employees and applicants, regardless of race. For example, if you are the top salesman in your company but are moved to a less desirable territory because it is a minority neighborhood while an employee of a different race with less experience is given your territory, this decision can be considered racial discrimination.
The laws governing racial discrimination cover a wide range of potential issues. In addition to protections for individuals of different races, Title VII also prohibits bias based on your association with someone of a different race. If you are married to an individual of a different race or are involved in any association or group generally associated with a minority group, your rights are covered under Title VII protections.
Harassment based on race is also considered racial discrimination. Racial harassment can take many forms, including racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks, and displaying racially-offensive symbols. Any actions that create an offensive or hostile work environment can be considered racial discrimination.
Disparate Treatment vs. Disparate Impact Discrimination
Racial discrimination can manifest in many different ways, but two of the most common types are disparate treatment and disparate impact discrimination.
Disparate Treatment Discrimination
Disparate treatment alleges that an employer singled out certain employees and treated them differently than others in similar positions because of their race. For example, an employer may only promote employees of a certain race to supervisory positions or they might only let workers of a certain race handle customers. They might discriminate on the basis of physical characteristics such as skin color, hair texture, facial features, or any other traits associated with a particular race.
Disparate Impact Discrimination
In contrast, disparate impact discrimination does not claim that employers singled out employees of a certain race. Instead, it may claim that the employer's supposedly neutral policies impacted employees of a certain race disproportionately. For example, a policy that forbids hairstyles such as cornrow braids or dreadlocks not only cost black employees more money to maintain, but also make them feel less welcome in the workplace.
At Chanfrau & Chanfrau, we are willing to take on large corporations to defend your rights.
Unfortunately, racial discrimination can be upheld in the workplace in a myriad of ways, including:
- Being physically segregated or isolated from employees of a different race
- Being excluded from activities that involve customer interaction when co-workers of another race are included
- Having your complaints ignored when you bring up incidents of racial discrimination that has made you feel uncomfortable
- Being refused a promotion for a position that was ultimately filled by an applicant of a different race who was less qualified
- Being laid off along with other people in your racial group while employees of another racial group were retained
- Not getting benefits or opportunities to advance within the organization that employees of another race are getting
Notable Racial Discrimination Cases
One of the most notable racial discrimination cases in recent years took place in May 2017. Rosebud Restaurants agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against 13 Chicago-area restaurants. The restaurants were charged with refusing to hire black applicants and using racial slurs. As a result, a monetary award was paid to the applicants who were denied jobs. Additionally, the restaurants agreed to implement hiring standards that required at least 11 percent of its workforce to be African-American.
A few years earlier, in 2013, U-Haul agreed to pay $750,000 to a group of 8 current and former black employees. The employees had been subjected to racial slurs from their supervisor on a regular basis. When one of them complained of the harassment to the company's president, they were fired. The company now must maintain an anti-discrimination policy that prohibits racial harassment and retaliation, in addition to other measures.
What To Do If You Are Facing Racial Harassment
Here are a few steps you can take if you are experiencing racial harassment at work:
- Tell the Harasser the Conduct is Unwelcome: Inform your harasser that his or her behavior is unwelcome and that it must stop. You can do this verbally, in writing, or through your actions.
- Report the Harasser: Report the harasser as soon as possible. In order to hold your employer legally responsible for the offender’s conduct, they must know that it occurred. Tell your supervisor, HR, or another person in a position of power within the company.
- Take Notes: Write down exactly what happened and be as specific as possible. The date, place, time, and witnesses all matter. If there are witnesses, ask them to document what happened in writing.
- Maintain Your Records: Your harasser may try to defend his or her conduct by attacking your job performance, so gather copies of performance evaluations and any other written statements about the quality of your work. You should also keep a record of any formal complaints you file.
Age Discrimination: Federal Protections for Older Employees
The ADEA is a federal law that specifically protects individuals aged 40 and over. For example, if you were fired because your company wants to hire younger employees willing to work for less money or if an employer refused to hire you because they wanted a younger-looking individual to do the job, you may be able to pursue an age discrimination lawsuit.
The ADEA also guards against harassment in the workplace. While casual joking is not considered illegal, harassment may involve offensive or derogatory remarks about your age. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, harassment includes any actions that are frequent and severe enough to create a hostile or offensive workplace.
The Older Workers Benefit Protection Act of 1990 (OWBPA) amended the ADEA to provide additional protections and prevent employers from denying benefits to older employees. Under this act, it is illegal for an employer to fire you to avoid paying your pension or because your benefits are too costly.
At Chanfrau & Chanfrau, our employment discrimination attorneys can work with you to...collect the maximum level of compensation.
However, your employer is only required to follow the “equal benefits or equal cost” rule. If the company elects to pay a flat fee for monthly premiums for all workers, this policy does not violate the OWBPA, even if it results in lesser benefits for older workers than younger ones.
Seeking Remedial Actions
In age discrimination cases, there are a variety of compensatory or remedial actions an employer may face if the court rules in your favor. You may be able to recover:
- Back pay
- Front pay
- Attorney fees
- Court costs
In addition, if the company willfully violated the ADEA, you may be eligible for liquidated damages up to twice the amount of back pay. At Chanfrau & Chanfrau, our employment discrimination attorneys can work with you to build a case and collect the maximum level of compensation possible.
Pregnancy Discrimination: Expecting Mothers Have Rights in the Workplace
Every woman is entitled to equal opportunity in the workplace, including women who are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant. If she is not given the same opportunities or if she is directly harassed as a result, this legally qualifies as pregnancy discrimination.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act protects the rights of pregnant workers so that they can receive fair and equal treatment in the workplace, as well as file complaints against their employers.
What Constitutes Pregnancy Discrimination?
Common examples of discrimination against pregnant employees include:
- Firing a pregnant employee because the employer feels the employee cannot do her job
- Firing a pregnant employee due to concerns for the employee’s health
- Harassing a pregnant employee, such as by making offhand derogatory comments, threats, insults, or offensive jokes
- Refusing to hire a woman because she is pregnant
- Failing to provide reasonable accommodations for a pregnant employee
- Not considering an employee for a promotion because she is pregnant
- Forcing an employee to change jobs or take time off because of her pregnancy
Laws Regarding Pregnancy Leave
You may be entitled to time off work for reasons relating to pregnancy or childbirth. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), eligible employees may take as many as 12 unpaid weeks off work for their medical needs, including prenatal care, morning sickness, and other serious health conditions resulting from pregnancy or childbirth. Under FMLA, employees may also continue to receive health benefits and be reinstated to their position when leave is over.
Laws Regarding Pregnancy Discrimination
The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 contains a number of protections for pregnant women in the workplace that prohibit employers from discriminating against them. Specifically, employers cannot discriminate against employees for past, current, or potential pregnancy, as well as any associated medical conditions.
In 1978, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed. This legislation protects women from being discriminated against or fired because of a pregnancy, childbirth, or related condition in any workplace with at least 15 employees.
The Florida Civil Rights Act was also amended to prohibit employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. Like the PDA, this law applies to companies that employ 15 or more individuals.
Protection against Disability Discrimination
There are two federal laws that protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in the workplace. The most recent, the Americans with Disabilities Amendments Act, was passed in 2008 and makes it illegal for certain employers to discriminate against individuals with disabilities. This act covers private employers, state and local governments, employment agencies, and labor unions.
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 provides the same protections for individuals with disabilities employed by or applying for positions in federal agencies and programs receiving federal money. It also regulates employment practices of federal contractors.
How Does the Law Define Disability?
According to the ADA Amendments Act, an individual with a disability meets at least one of three characteristics:
- Has a physical or mental condition that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as hearing, seeing, walking, talking, or learning
- Has a history of a disability, such as cancer in remission
- Has a perceived disability that is not temporary or minor, even if they do not have an impairment
Not every medical condition is protected by law. However, the ADA Amendments Act emphasizes a broad interpretation of the definition of disability. Some conditions often involved in disability discrimination claims include mental illness, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and cancer, along with many others.
Federal law requires that employers provide reasonable accommodation for applicants and employees with disabilities unless these actions would cause undue hardship for the employer. Accommodations may include changes in the work environment, such as adding a ramp or providing an interpreter, that help an individual with a disability:
- Apply for a position
- Perform their duties
- Enjoy the privileges and benefits of employment
If you have a disability and believe you were not provided with reasonable accommodation, you may have cause to file a workplace discrimination lawsuit.
Do I Have a Case?
Florida is an "at-will" employment state. This means that an employer can terminate an employee with no warning, and without giving a reason. As a result, proving that an employer has discriminated against you in a way that is unlawful is no simple task. It requires an intimate understanding of the law, and our attorneys are prepared to analyze your case to determine if you have grounds for a lawsuit.
As our client, you can focus on rebuilding your professional life while we work to protect your rights. Rest assured that we will pursue maximum compensation on your behalf in order to help you overcome losses resulting from workplace discrimination.
Call Us Today
Call us at (386) 258-7313 or contact us online to schedule a free review of your case. Our attorneys have helped many mistreated clients collect the restitution they deserve, and we are prepared to go to work for you. Let our team uphold your rights and expose wrongdoing on the part of an employer.