Journalist Diana Falzone settled a gender discrimination lawsuit recently that she filed against Fox News and left the company.

In her complaint in New York state court, Falzone said she was abruptly taken off air by Fox News after writing an article in January 2017 about her struggle with endometriosis, a medical condition that would likely leave her infertile.

She said Fox, a unit of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc, discriminated against her on the basis of sex and disability in violation of New York City law.

Fox executives decided she did not conform to their image of on-air women as “physically perfect” once she disclosed her condition, Smith said in a statement at the time.

Fox denied Falzone’s allegations after she filed her lawsuit in May, 2017.

In its June 23 response to Falzone’s complaint, Fox said it maintained an equal employment, a harassment-free work environment where personnel decisions were made on the basis of merit, and retaliation was prohibited against anyone who reported a discrimination claim.

Fox News has faced a number of legal claims that it ignored employees’ complaints of sexual harassment and gender and race discrimination.

Bill O’Reilly, the network’s most popular anchor, and former Fox News chief Roger Ailes both have been ousted over harassment claims by several women, which they deny.

Smith and Martin Hyman filed a sexual harassment lawsuit last year against Ailes on behalf of former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson. The lawsuit, which was settled for $20 million, led to Ailes’ resignation after two decades as one of the most influential executives in cable television.

Sex and gender based employment discrimination is illegal in the workplace. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against current or potential employees because of their sex in regards to:

  • Hiring
  • Firing
  • Promotions
  • Termination
  • Compensation
  • Benefits
  • Training
  • Any other “term or condition” of employment

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The NFL is supposed to prevent its franchises from asking draft prospects questions related to their sexual orientation, but they have apparently failed – again.

Appearing on SiriusXM NFL Radio, LSU running back Derrius Guice said one team representative at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last week asked whether he was homosexual. Such a question is prohibited under the league’s Excellence in Workplace Conduct policy and potentially illegal under state law.

Controversy about this line of questioning began in earnest at the 2013 Combine after both running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Nick Kasa revealed they were asked if they “like girls” during one of their 15-minute interview sessions.

Subsequent warnings of league discipline from NFL headquarters to clubs about doing this went ignored in 2016 by Falcons assistant coach Marquand Manuel, who asked then-Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple if he liked girls. The Falcons organization quickly apologized with head coach Dan Quinn saying his coaching staff went through a training seminar “with a league-approved counselor regarding social responsibility.”

These questions regarding sexual orientation are not new. The Dolphins apologized in 2010 after wide receiver Dez Bryant was asked by a team official if his mother was a prostitute.

The typical Combine interview features general get-to-know you questions and football-related inquiries such as analyzing video of college performances or drawing plays on a board. Players with off-field issues in their background face a tougher line of questioning as teams try to complete their pre-draft profiles.

Guice, who is considered a likely first- or second-round pick, turned pro early after posting his second consecutive season of 1,200-plus rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns. Guice is also considered one of the most inspirational players in the 2018 draft class. He was raised in a single-parent household in an impoverished part of Baton Rouge following the murder of his father when Guice was 7 years old.

It will be interesting to see how the league reacts in trying to find the interviewer and whether a harsh enough punishment is given to truly keep another player from having to endure the same experience as Guice.

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An Oregon man filed suits Monday claiming Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart discriminated against the 20-year-old when they refused to sell him a rifle.

Dick’s and Walmart restricted gun sales to adults 21 and older in the wake of the Florida high school massacre. The 19-year-old accused in the school slaying bought the AR-15 used in the attack legally.

Oregon law allows residents to buy shotguns or rifles starting at age 18.

The man’s lawsuits filed against the retailers in two separate counties claim he faced age discrimination from Dick’s and Walmart. The lawsuit is believed to be the first filed over the new gun policies enacted on Feb. 28.

The lawsuit claims a store owned by Dick’s Sporting Goods in Medford, Oregon, refused to sell the man a .22-caliber Ruger rifle on Feb. 24. The suit says another Walmart in Oregon refused to sell him a gun on March 3.

The man is asking judges to force Dick’s and Walmart “to stop unlawfully discriminating against 18, 19, and 20 year-old customers at all Oregon locations.” Additionally, he is asking for unspecified punitive damages.

A Walmart spokesman said the retailer plans to defend the new policy.

Dick’s and Walmart are not alone in establishing a new policy on age restricted gun sales. Kroger Co., the nation’s largest grocery chain, on Thursday announced its Fred Meyer stores will discontinue the sale of guns and ammunition to customers younger than 21 years old.

Not all state public accommodation laws consider age a protected status, and Florida is one of those states. In the 19 states and jurisdictions that do have such laws on the books, including Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia, all have prohibitions against age discrimination by “public accommodations” or publicly accessible retail establishments.

The announcement, made two weeks after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 students and staff members, is one of the strongest stances taken by corporate America in the national gun debate. It also carries a huge symbolic weight coming from prominent national gunsellers.

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Until recently, Ferrari dealers in South Florida and elsewhere were able to roll back the odometers of the fancy pre-owned cars they sold.

However, when the Miami Herald and other media organizations brought attention to it, the company discontinued the practice that could grossly inflate the value of used Ferraris, according to new documents filed in a Palm Beach County lawsuit.

In an internal Ferrari memo filed Feb. 8 in the lawsuit brought by a former showroom salesman-turned-whistleblower, Ferrari North America notifies dealers it will no longer provide access codes that for years allowed an app called DEIS tester to make miles driven vanish from dashboards of Spiders, Californias and 488 GTB’s.

“The odometer ‘reset to zero’ functionality is being removed,” the memo reads. It also announces the removal from its Ferrari Workshop Manuals of the paragraphs that taught techs how to roll back miles.

After spending 22 years selling Ferraris throughout South Florida, the whistleblower sued for libel Ferrari of Palm Beach and one of his clients.

The whistleblower claims he was fired after discovering odometers got rolled back and discussing it with his client, who allegedly then paid off a mechanic from the dealership to roll back his LaFerrari mileage.

The whistleblower explained in court paper the rollback — which had to be greenlit by Ferrari headquarters in Italy — instantly increased the resale value of his client’s $3 million-LaFerrari by $1 million, the lawsuit claims.

The whistleblower says he was fired by Ferrari of Palm Beach in January 2016 for “egregious violation of business ethics,” allegedly facilitating his client’s rollback.

What really happened, the whistleblower says in the suit, is that he was targeted after he loudly objected to the use of the rollback device.

The whistleblower was rehired in March 2016. Since then, however, he claims Ferrari of Palm Beach engaged in a pattern of retaliation, including his move to an office that’s harder to reach by customers.

Ferrari stands by claims they did nothing wrong or illegal.

Under state and federal law, employees who step forward to expose illegal activity on their employer’s part can recover financial damages if they find themselves being harassed, intimidated, or unlawfully terminated. Moreover, in qui tam cases, whistleblowers are eligible to receive a percentage of any money recovered by the government where their testimony and cooperation were pertinent to obtaining a conviction.

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A registered nurse is suing at St. Petersburg hospital facility, alleging gender and racial discrimination.

The African-American transgender nurse, filed a complaint Jan. 26 in Pinellas County Circuit Court against HCA, Inc., alleging violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and Florida Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, the nurse had worked at HCA’s Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg since August 2011 as a fulltime advanced registered nurse practitioner. In April 2017, the suit says, she learned Northside was short-staffed, yet nobody contacted her for work despite her having requested extra work since February.

The nurse says she was subjected to discrimination, accused of stealing and was eventually terminated July 17, 2017.

She alleges HCA failed to provide her PRN hours while providing PRN hours to a white/Caucasian peer, made false accusation of theft of food and subjected an employee to discriminatory acts.

Discrimination in the workplace can on various forms. Sex and gender discrimination is becoming more common as the number of women and openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals enter the workforce. Even though state and federal laws mandate that these employees are given equal access and protections, they are often discriminated against simply because of their sex or gender identification.

An individual may be discriminated against at work simply because of their sex or because they are genetically one sex and identify as another. Fortunately, employment laws protect against these and other similar situations.

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Two former employees are suing the Orlando Magic, alleging unpaid wages.

The two men filed a complaint Dec. 27 in Orange County Circuit Court against Orlando Magic, LTD, alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

According to the complaint, in May 2017, the men were laid off as Magic employees. The suit says during their employment, they regularly worked in excess of 40 hours per week but failed to receive overtime pay at the rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay as required by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The two men allege the Magic failed to pay overtime premiums for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, failed to maintain records of employees working hours in violation of the record keeping requirements of the FLSA and failed to compensate at a rate not less than one-half times the regular rate of pay for work performed in excess of 40 hours in a work week.

The two men are hoping to recover all unpaid overtime compensation along with an equal amount as liquidated damages of more than $15,000, attorney fees, court costs, and all other relief the court deems proper.

Federal law mandates that employees who have worked over 40 hours in a week must be paid one and a half times their normal pay rate. While there are exceptions to this law, employers often misunderstand or misapply the rules at the employee’s expense. If you are not being paid for overtime hours that you work, your employer may be violating the Fair Labor Standard Act. If this is the case, you may be entitled to the back pay owed to you as well as an additional amount of liquidated damages and attorney’s fees.

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A Pinellas County woman is suing a Clearwater company, alleging age and disability discrimination. Whittel & Melton is pursuing the case on behalf of the woman.

The woman filed a complaint Nov. 16 in  Pinellas County Circuit Court against Professional Media Group LLC, alleging that the employer violated the Florida Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, on July 10, 2016, the woman was injured and admitted to a hospital for surgery. The suit says although the woman received permanent metal screws in her leg she informed her supervisor that she would be ready to return to work.

The woman was illegally terminated from employment July 21, 2016, because of her disability/handicap and age – she is 64. As a result, the woman has suffered damages for lost wages, benefits and emotional distress.

The business unlawfully discriminated against her and illegally terminated her employment for having a disability.

Discrimination can take on many forms. When you are discriminated against at work because of your age or disability, you need to work with a Pinellas County Discrimination Lawyer at Whittel & Melton who can protect your rights.

Age discrimination revolves around the concept that an older person may not be able to do something as well as a younger person. If you are over the age of 40 and are being treated differently than your co-workers, you may be able to file a discrimination claim. The older you are, the stronger an age discrimination argument becomes.

Some disabilities are obvious, but some are not immediately apparent. Regardless of the type of disability, it is important to speak with your HR department to ensure you have a strong case. Most companies require individuals with disabilities to go through HR before anything else. When you contact Whittel & Melton, we can help you work through your options with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  to make sure your rights as an employee are protected.

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A former employee is suing an Orlando restaurant supply and equipment company, alleging religious discrimination.

The man filed a complaint Dec. 1 in Orange County Circuit Court against the company, alleging he was fired without warning.

According to the complaint, in July 2015, the man, a devout Muslim who had worked for the company since 1996, suffered economic losses after his employment was suddenly terminated. The suit says this includes loss of wages, increased pay, retirement benefits and other benefits.

The man says the company denied his request to observe the traditional Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Fitr as a paid vacation and then terminated his employment.

The man alleges the company denied his right to observe a traditional religious holiday and terminated him as retaliation and without valid reason.

If you have been denied employment, fired, harassed or otherwise harmed in your employment because of your religion, your religious beliefs and practices, or simply because your employer failed to comply with your reasonable request for a convenient accommodation of your religious beliefs and practices, you very well could be the victim of religious discrimination. Sadly, this is a quite common occurrence throughout workplaces across the country.

The law is very clear in stating that employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their religion. This means that employers may not treat employees or job applicants differently because of their religious beliefs and practices or lack thereof. Moreover, employers must reasonably accommodate the needs of employees in the workplace to practice their faiths.

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A former employee is suing WaWa, alleging disability discrimination, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint Nov. 29 in Pinellas Circuit Court against WaWa Inc., alleging the company fired him for wearing a back brace.

According to the complaint, the man has a history of chronic back problems that require him to wear a back brace. The man says he worked for a WaWa in Clearwater until his dismissal in 2016, allegedly for unexplained absences.

The suit says the man has suffered and will continue to suffer from mental anguish and emotional distress, loss of earnings and other employment benefits and job opportunities, as a result of WaWa’s willful and intentional discrimination and wrongful termination.

The man alleges WaWa failed its duty to eliminate discrimination from the workplace, failed to adequately supervise, control, discipline and/or otherwise penalize discriminatory practices, and discharged the man in retaliation for his filing and attempting to file a valid worker’s compensation claim.

The man seeks trial by jury, compensatory and punitive damages between $15,000 and $75,000, interest, court costs and other relief.

If you believe that you have been the victim of employment discrimination because of a physical or mental disability, our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton may be able to help. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (the ADA) added disabled persons to the class of people protected against employment discrimination. The ADA defines employment to include recruitment, hiring, promotions, training, pay, and social activities.

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Celebrity chef Mario Batali has given up oversight of the daily operations at his restaurant empire following allegations of sexual misconduct over a period of at least 20 years.

The alleged incidents involve at least four women, three of whom worked for Batali.

In a prepared statement sent to The Associated Press, Batali said that the complaints “match up” with his past behavior.

“I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family,” Batali said.

A spokesperson for Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group says an employee reported inappropriate behavior by Batali in October. The company said it was the first formal complaint against Batali and that he was reprimanded and required to attend training.

Batali will also take leave from his ABC cooking show, “The Chew.”

“We have asked Mario Batali to step away from The Chew while we review the allegations that have just recently come to our attention,” the network said Monday. “ABC takes matters like this very seriously as we are committed to a safe work environment. While we are unaware of any type of inappropriate behavior involving him and anyone affiliated with the show, we will swiftly address any alleged violations of our standards of conduct.”

No one should have to experience sexual misconduct in the workplace. Sexual harassment leads to what is called a hostile work environment that can cause an employee to suffer from anxiety, stress and to feel powerless. Sadly, even though sexual harassment is illegal, it still occurs in many workplaces.

Sexual harassment can embody many different things. It can include sexual advances, inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, groping, or leering. Sexual harassment can also involve unsavory comments made by your boss or co-workers about your body, appearance, sexual orientation, sex life, or your clothing.  

In Florida, you have the right to work at your job without being sexually harassed by your co-worker, supervisor, boss or anyone else. You also have the right to report sexual harassment and cannot be retaliated against by your employer for doing so.

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