Common Questions And Answers About Workplace Discrimination In Florida
Cornell & Associates PA, represents clients who have been victims of workplace discrimination. We also counsel businesses looking to improve or maintain compliance with anti-discrimination laws. Below, we have provided answers to common questions that employment law attorneys receive. After reading, we welcome you to contact us with your own questions.
What qualifies as workplace discrimination?
Broadly speaking, workplace discrimination occurs when an employer subjects certain employees or job applicants to disparate and unfavorable treatment based on a characteristic of that person (their race, gender, age, etc.). The unfavorable treatment may be related to hiring/promotions, firing, working conditions, pay or numerous other aspects of the employment experience.
In many cases discrimination is intentional. But in some cases, even unintentional discrimination is illegal. For instance, if an employer enacts a seemingly unbiased policy that applies to all workers yet has a disparate, negative impact on one group of workers, that may constitute illegal discrimination.
How do I prove workplace discrimination?
There are certainly times when discrimination is obvious because employers are either unable to or unwilling to mask their biases. In most cases, however, employers take care to disguise their motives in order to protect themselves against liability. Proving discrimination can be difficult based on the treatment of one worker. But if you’ve been discriminated against based on a certain characteristic (like race), chances are good that others have faced discrimination as well. Therefore, you may be able to find evidence of larger company practices that demonstrate disparate treatment of other workers or applicants who share that characteristic.
If you know you’ve experienced discrimination but don’t have enough evidence yet, you can contact an attorney about the best ways to obtain that evidence before taking official legal action.
What are illegal employment practices?
These are actions that employers take in violation of labor laws and anti-discrimination laws. Labor law violations would include things like purposely misclassifying employees, requiring employees to work off the clock without paying them, refusing overtime pay when it is merited and similar violations. Illegal discriminatory practices include disparate behaviors toward certain employees or job candidates based on one or more protected characteristics. Many examples of behaviors are listed in the questions above. Protected characteristics are discussed below.
Which characteristics are protected against discrimination?
Discrimination in employment, housing and education were notably addressed in the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. That legislation enumerated specific “protected classes,” or characteristics that were prohibited as a basis for discrimination. All states adopted this list in their own laws, and most have expanded the list over time.
Under federal and/or Florida law, it is illegal to discriminate against a worker or job candidate based on:
- National origin
- Gender or gender identity
- Gender-related matters like pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- Sexual orientation
- Citizenship status (if legally allowed to work in the U.S.)
- Genetic information
- Age (for workers 40 and older)
- AIDS/HIV status
- Sickle cell trait
- Marital status
These protections should apply universally to any business. Unfortunately, many small employers are exempt from some or most of these requirements. Therefore, you should check with an attorney about whether your employer can be held liable for violating your rights under these laws.