An Orange County woman is suing a vacation business, alleging discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The woman filed a complaint Oct. 17 in Orange County Circuit Court against Wyndham Vacation Ownership Inc., alleging violation of the Orange County Civil Rights Ordinance and the Family Medical Leave Act.

According to the complaint, in February the woman requested leave due to complications with her pregnancy. Prior to returning to work on or around March 7, the suit says, she was terminated for alleged poor performance.

The woman says she has suffered lost wages and benefits, emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.

She alleges Wyndham Vacation Ownership subjected her to pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment and retaliated against her by terminating her employment for exercising her rights.

In regards to pregnancy, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a woman because she is with child. State and federal laws protect women against this form of discrimination in all aspects of employment, including interviewing, hiring, firing and promoting.

Pregnant employees may suffer from a variety of medical conditions during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against these employees. Some examples of medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth include:

  • Back pain
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Any conditions that require bed rest
  • Lactation issues

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An Orange County driver is suing UPS, alleging racial discrimination and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint Oct. 4 in Orange County Circuit Court against UPS Ground Freight Inc., alleging violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.

According to the complaint, the man’s employment with UPS Freight was steady for 17 years until the promotion of two other men.

After their promotion, the suit says, the man and other minority employees began to experience a pattern of harassment as he is Hispanic male of Puerto Rican descent and the two supervisors are white. Furthermore, the man alleges he was terminated for refusing to engage in an illegal activity.

He claims that UPS Ground Freight, despite receiving pleas for help from employees, failed to stop the harassment and allowed the discrimination and harassment to continue in the workplace.

The man seeks trial by jury, judgment for lost compensation, back pay, front pay, benefits with interest, attorney fees, costs and all other just and proper relief.

Congress enacted the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure equality of employment opportunities. Now, more than half a century later, racial  discrimination in the workplace remains all too prevalent. Our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are deeply committed to achieving the promise of the Civil Rights Act by aggressively fighting race discrimination in the workplace.

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LaCroix is facing a new class-action lawsuit filed in an Illinois state court that accuses the brand of falsely advertising its drinks as “all natural.”

The suit filed against National Beverage Corp., which owns LaCroix, claims the drinks contain a number of artificial ingredients like linalool, which is found in cockroach insecticide.

The suit was filed on behalf of a woman who was was led to purchase LaCroix sparkling water because of the claims made on its packaging, advertising and website to be ‘innocent,’ ‘naturally essenced,’ ‘all natural,’ and ‘always 100% natural.”

LaCroix is accused of having ingredients in their water that have been identified by the Food and Drug Administration as synthetic.

National Beverage Corp. has refuted the allegations, saying the lawsuit is “without basis in fact or law regarding the natural composition of its LaCroix sparkling waters.”

“Attention to these charges is an enormous disservice to those who drink and appreciate LaCroix sparkling water,” the company said in a statement. “All essences contained in LaCroix are certified by our suppliers to be 100% natural.”

Class action lawsuits are typically brought by people harmed by the same act of wrongdoing or negligence. When multiple people encounter the same legal problem, meaning that  the facts and injuries are quite similar, bringing all those claims together as a class action is more efficient and practical than pursuing legal action for those claims separately.

In class actions, our Florida Class Action Attorneys at Whittel & Melton represent the group of class members and oversee the investigation and litigation of the case. We negotiate settlements, and if necessary, go to trial on behalf of the class as a whole. We have decades of litigation and trial experience in federal and state courts across the country.

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A former employee at Florida State University’s College of Medicine is suing the FSU Board of Trustees, alleging sexual harassment by a coworker, discrimination against black students seeking admission, and retaliation for filing complaints.

The woman filed a lawsuit on September 11th in Leon County court.

The woman was an Academic Program Specialist at the FSU College of Medicine Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Her lawsuit alleges that a supervisor made a sexually explicit comment to her in February 2016. She reported the comment to her staff Title IX liaison, who contacted the department chair, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges no action was taken to resolve the issue and the work environment became hostile and extremely stressful for the woman.

She says she later spoke out about a second inappropriate comment by the supervisor, and complained about refusal to consider black students seeking admission to the College of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical Sciences.

She says her supervisors further retaliated by demoting her, taking away her privileges and responsibilities, and ultimately firing her.

The suit seeks damages of more than $15,000 and asks that the woman be reinstated to her job. It seeks a jury trial.

FSU General Counsel Carolyn Egan said in a statement, “An independent external investigation found no evidence of wrongdoing. We have every reason to believe the court will reach the same conclusion.”

If an employer has terminated your employment, passed you over for a promotion or raise you deserved, or mistreated you in other ways at work, solely because of your race, gender, age or disability, you could have a discrimination claim. If you have been a victim of discrimination in the workplace, you need legal help from a law firm you can trust and who will help you protect your right to fair treatment in the workplace.

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A Riviera Beach Building Official nearing a criminal trial for allegedly misrepresenting her qualifications has sued the city for sex discrimination, claiming she earned less than the less-experienced men who preceded her.

The 16-page complaint, filed Sept. 20 in Palm Beach Circuit Court, alleges she was discriminated against and subject to a hostile work environment.

The woman’s suit states that, while she started in January 2017 at a total pay package of $75,900, her predecessors earned more than $90,000 in base pay alone. She never received the 10 percent raise she was promised she would get if she received a provisional, limited or standard building official license, it said. She got her provisional license April 22, 2017, the suit said.

The city also reneged on a promise to appoint a deputy building official to help her, the suit said.

Prior to her hiring, the city contracted with CAP Government, a private company, to handle building official duties. One of the woman’s first assignments was to review CAP billings, to curtail unnecessary spending, the suit said.

She found the value of a number of building projects had been underestimated, short-changing the city on building permit fees they paid. In March 2017, one project, a Palm Beach Cold Storage warehouse being built near the port was ordered to halt construction.

That move sparked a lawsuit by the company, saying the city’s administrative paralysis delayed the opening by 11 months and cost the owner tens of thousands of dollars.

The woman’s suit said that, instead of backing the stop-work decision, which was made by CAP and supported by her, her higher-ups retaliated against her.

She was reprimanded for using a city vehicle as a take-home car even though she was considered emergency personnel. In addition, the city tried to keep her from doing outside work, even though she had previously been exempted from that policy.

She filed an internal complaint with the city, then contacted the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity in July 2017, seven months after taking the job.

While that was pending, in April 2018 the State Attorney’s Office filed a charge against her, alleging she “fraudulently misrepresented herself as a building official and that her actions caused ‘developmental companies to change schedules, incur losses and remit fees.”

The charge is a first degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

A spokesman for the State Attorney said Tuesday the case is headed for trial.

Sex discrimination is an increasing area of legal concern. This type of discrimination in the workplace can be one of the easiest things to spot as well as the hardest as every instance is situational.  

Our South Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have outlined below the most common examples of sex discrimination at work:

  • Unequal pay — Men being paid more for doing the same job as a woman despite having the same position and status at work.
  • Different job responsibilities — Men and women given different responsibilities, such as women having administrative duties doled out while a man is asked to lift heavy items.
  • Interview questions — The biggest issue here is when women are asked completely different questions than men, such as if they have children or if they plan to have children.
  • Advancement opportunities — Men and women should have equal opportunities for advancement without their sex playing a role in the process.

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You may have never heard of the word pretext. It is one of those legal jargon words that employees and everyday people don’t use. What does pretext mean? Pretext is legally defined as a reason for an action which is false, and offered to cover up true motives or intentions. For instance, “My boss lied about why I was fired;” or even, “my employer blamed my demotion on poor performance that I was unaware of.”

When an employer lies about the reason an employee was fired, terminated or otherwise retaliated against, it does not necessarily create a claim, but it does give you reason to ask our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton to look into it. In order to show that the employer’s reason is a pretext it must be demonstrated that the their explanation is not credible. One thing to note is that a simple mistake made by the employer is not a pretext, rather a pretext is a bogus, phony excuse used to cover up the real illegal reason.

An employer will usually not tell an employee they are firing the for an illegal reason. They will make up an arbitrary reason for termination, and the illegal reason will have to be proved through circumstantial evidence. Even though an employer may provide a pretext that seems valid on paper, this does not mean the employee does not have a case.

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The former head football coach at Escambia High School has filed a lawsuit against Escambia Schools Superintendent alleging racial discrimination and harassment.

The former coach filed the lawsuit on Aug. 23, in the Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division, against the Superintendent of Schools for Escambia County District of Schools.

In the filing, the former coach alleged “mistreatment” by the Superintendent and several other district employees.

The former coach served as the high school’s physical education teacher and head football coach from March 2012 until his termination in September of 2014, according to the lawsuit.

The former 2013 Escambia High School Teacher of the Year alleged that upon his hiring, the Escambia High School principal warned him that “some individuals would become upset once they learned of his having hired a black coach.”  

The lawsuit also alleged that the principal participated in racially motivated actions “by making inappropriate comments and racially derogatory remarks directly to Plaintiff regarding his race,” as well the coaches, stating that the sidelines were “really dark,” which referred to the coaches’ race, and commenting on their “gold teeth.”

According to the man, he was treated badly and held to a different standard than his peers because of his race. He said that this created a hostile work environment.

He was eventually terminated based on gross insubordination, effective September 17, 2014, despite the support of his students and players. His firing came after the former coach allegedly used several football players in the team’s opening game, although there were questions about their eligibility. After his termination, the former coach continued to allege that the principal and superintendent continued to damage his reputation and launched “professional attacks against Plaintiff’s character and his professional teaching career.”

The former coach further alleged that the defendant maliciously interfered with other prospective business relationships, causing embarrassment, a damaged reputation and emotional distress.

The lawsuit has brought five counts against the superintendent, including racial discrimination, tortious interference, as well as First Amendment retaliation for protected political association.

People are discriminated against everyday in the workplace because of their race.  Management and supervisors still say and do racially motivated things that are not only wrong, but against the law. Sadly, many get away with it and are never challenged.

It is against the law for a company or employer to discriminate against someone based on their race. This includes any term or condition of employment, such as hiring, firing, being laid-off, promotion, compensation, and job training.

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An AutoNation-owned Coral Gables car dealership will pay a former longtime assistant parts manager $150,000 to settle a sexual discrimination lawsuit after the dealership hired a less-qualified man as parts manager, then had her train him.

The lawsuit says AutoNation management told the woman that the job “needed a man.”

The money owed to the woman is part of a consent decree between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which filed the lawsuit, and Abraham Chevrolet-Miami (better known as “AutoNation Chevrolet Coral Gables”) and LP Evans Motor WPB (better known as Mercedes-Benz of Miami”).

For the next three years, both dealerships also must have annual live messages from the general managers on equal employment opportunity and diversity. Also, there will be annual training for managers and employees of certain departments on obeying laws such as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when hiring and dealing with discrimination complaints.

According to the lawsuit filed on the woman’s behalf by the EEOC, she started working at AutoNation Chevrolet Coral Gables in 1996 and became assistant parts manager in 2003. During the 10 years she held that job, she helped run all aspects of the Parts Department, including occasionally doing the manager’s job when necessary. She also let it be known she’d like the parts manager job should the position come open.

The suit says that happened during summer 2013 when the parts manager got bumped up to wholesale parts director. But the dealership never posted the job as open nor did it interview anyone, the suit says.

In August 2013, a new parts manager was announced at a company meeting. He had been a sales associate, so the dealership told the woman to train him in his new job.

The dealership felt she was equipped enough to train the parts manager, the suit claims, but not equipped to be the parts manager.

The woman was told by management that the dealer “needed a man” for the position, the complaint said. But the “defendants’ management acknowledged that Charging Party was the most qualified candidate for the Parts Manager position, but advised that ‘it was too late to undo things.”

Gender discrimination in the workplace entails failing to hire someone or firing someone because of their sex or gender. This includes not promoting worthy candidates, paying less compensation to a worker of one sex or one gender identification than another, creating a hostile work environment, and numerous other job aspects that relate to discrimination. If you have been treated unfairly at work, you may be the victim of unlawful discrimination.

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A federal appeals court has ruled that visitors with autism can proceed with lawsuits against Disney theme parks that claimed not enough was being done to accommodate them.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week ruled that plaintiffs in 30 lawsuits could proceed in a lower court with their lawsuits alleging violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuits claimed Disney’s program to accommodate guests with autism didn’t do enough to avoid waits or allow the autistic guests to keep to a scheduled routine in the parks.

A district court in Florida had ruled Disney was accommodating the autistic visitors and dismissed the claims in 2016.

In a statement, a Disney spokeswoman says the company is committed to providing an inclusive environment for all guests.

According to the Disney website, Walt Disney World Resort offers a host of services to help Guests with cognitive disabilities—including those on the Autism Spectrum—maximize their Resort experience. Services include:

  • Advanced Ticket Purchase
  • Stroller and Wheelchair Rental
  • Strollers as Wheelchairs
  • Rider Switch
  • Accessing Attractions
  • Break Areas
  • Companion Restrooms
  • Helpful Guides for Attractions and your General Resort Experience
  • Dietary Accommodations

Living with autism can present serious challenges. If you have a child or other loved one living with autism, you are quite familiar these issues. The challenges of watching someone you love struggle to interact with the outside world can be daunting.

If you have a loved one living with autism, you want to make sure that they have access to every available resource to help with any challenges that may present themselves. When certain places fail to provide promised accomodations, it can create unnecessary issues. Autism can subtly affect a person’s life in ways that have quite a large impact overall.

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A former employee is suing an Orlando company, citing alleged retaliation and wrongful termination, after he filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 1, in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Orange County. He alleged that the company subjected him to adverse employment actions.

According to his accounts, on Jan. 17 he was injured while in the course and scope of his employment working for the defendant. He was terminated on or about July 1.

He has suffered emotional distress, lost wages and benefits, pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and other non-pecuniary losses, according to the complaint. He holds the company responsible because the defendant allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation for filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.

An employer is strictly prohibited by law from discriminating against an employee because of a workplace injury. Workplace accidents can cause an employee to suffer substantial injuries that may result in them being unable to return to work for an extended period of time or unable to perform the same duties that they did before the injury occurred.

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