Articles Posted in Florida

An employee of Boeing at their plant in North Charleston who found a noose hanging above his desk earlier this year says the company knew about “an atmosphere of racial hostility and harassment towards African Americans,” according to a federal lawsuit filed last week.

The man says he worked at the South Carolina plant for eight years and complained several times about racism in the unit where he had been assigned since 2017, the lawsuit says.

The man, who is black, says white coworkers urinated on his desk and in his seat “numerous times” and used a racial slur daily, according to the court filing. When he complained about the harassment and racism, the man says he was moved to a different unit that did not have air conditioning.

The racism at the plant gained international notoriety earlier this year after the man found a noose hanging above his desk, according to the lawsuit.

Boeing released a statement saying that most of the man’s “allegations were never brought to the attention of management, giving the company no opportunity to investigate these claims. The single issue he did raise was dealt with promptly and in a fair manner.”

Boeing says it fired the employee who hung the noose in the sprawling factory where the company assembles the 787 Dreamliner.

The man had to take medical leave twice because of the effects of the racist environment in the plant, the lawsuit says.

In a statement, Boeing said there are no “no validity to his allegations.”

While the man remains a Boeing employee, he is currently out on family medical leave, according to the suit.

Federal, state and local laws strictly prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee based on race. These laws protect employees from being treated less favorably than other employees, receiving fewer job or promotional opportunities, termination and more, strictly based on race.

Different Types Of Race Discrimination

There are two types of cases when it comes to race discrimination. The first type is disparate treatment/ hostile work environment cases, and the second type is disparate impact cases. Disparate treatment cases involve an employee who is intentionally discriminated against due to their race. Disparate impact cases involve an employee who is discriminated against by employment policies that negatively affect them because of their race.

Race discrimination can take a variety of forms. The following are just a few examples of how race discrimination in the workplace can occur:

  • An employee is treated differently than other employees based on their race, including harsher disciplinary actions
  • An employee is denied promotions, training, or other employment benefits due to their race
  • An employee has suffered retaliation for taking action against a discriminatory employer
  • An employee has suffered wrongful termination motivated by racial discrimination

Racial Harassment at Work

Hiring practices, intentional discrimination, and unfair practices are not the only ways employers can discriminate. Harassment is also a huge issue with regards to racial discrimination. A hostile work environment based upon race can also be terms for a case against your employer.

Race harassment can involve inappropriate humor, intimidation and even physical violence. Oftentimes, incidents start out small and escalate when not addressed thoroughly and aggressively enough. Challenging racial harassment at your workplace can be tough, but an assertive stance must be taken by your employer to make sure this type of behavior is noy tolerated.

Any co-worker can be a source of race harassment, from upper management to lower-level employees. While management may not be participating in the harassment,  if they are aware that it is occurring and do nothing to stop it, they can be liable for the harassment. Employers are obligated to protect their employees from race harassment, so failing to do so can make them just as guilty as the person(s) carrying out the harassment.

The Next Steps

If you do have a race discrimination or harrassment case,, the next step involves submitting a claim to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This step is necessary, but can be overwhelming. Our Florida Workplace Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help with the submission and much  more.

Our discrimination and harassment lawyers know the impact that race harassment/discrimination can have on your self worth as en employee, which can negatively impact your work performance. We have the resources needed to help you protect your rights and remedy your current situation.

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McDonald’s has been hit with another round of lawsuits from current and former employees who claim management brushed off or ignored their experiences of sexual misconduct at work.

The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, the Fight For $15 movement to raise minimum wages and the American Civil Liberties Union announced the charges Tuesday, shedding light on 23 new complaints against the fast food chain and two lawsuits stemming from previous allegations.

McDonald’s cooks and cashiers at both corporate and franchise locations say they reported instances of sexual harassment and assault to their supervisors, but were either ignored or mocked, according to the lawsuits.

A McDonald’s worker from Louisiana whose co-worker allegedly attempted to rape her in a bathroom stall, said “nothing has changed” since her colleagues first began speaking out about sexual harassment at McDonald’s three years ago.

The advocacy groups, joined by “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, are expected to hold a press conference outside McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Chicago later Tuesday to support the workers and raise awareness of their fight.

In a letter addressed to Lakshmi on Sunday, McDonald’s stated it’s “committed to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace” and outlined recent efforts the company has taken to “create safe and respectful” workplaces, including a bolstered sexual harassment policy and a hotline for reporting complaints.

“In the next two months, McDonald’s and [the nonprofit Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network] will facilitate additional conversations with U.S. restaurant employees and other relevant external stakeholder groups to help inform and further strengthen our policy and trainings,” the company wrote in its letter to Lakshmi. “These conversations underscore our commitment to continuous improvement and being responsive to the changing needs of our business and employees — now and in the future.”

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s told HuffPost that the company did not plan to address the allegations publicly outside of its letter to Lakshmi. She noted that roughly 95 percent of U.S. McDonald’s locations are independently-owned franchises and do not fall under the corporate umbrella.

Of the 23 new complaints announced Tuesday, 20 of the charges were sent to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the three others were filed as civil rights lawsuits, according to a spokeswoman for Fight For $15.

Some of the workers say they were as young as 16 or 17 years old when they were subjected to sexual misconduct at McDonald’s and that their complaints resulted in their hours being cut or termination, according to the lawsuits.

Dozens of sexual harassment charges have been filed against McDonald’s since 2016.

According to a recent EEOC report, nearly 40% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. If you’re being sexually harassed at work, there is no need to suffer in silence. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help you understand the laws set in place that protect your rights. Federal, state and local laws protect all employees from unwelcome sexual advances, threats, demands and propositions.

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The U.S. Soccer Federation has formally denied allegations of gender discrimination made by players of the U.S. women’s national team.

28 members of the current women’s player pool filed the lawsuit March 8 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, alleging “institutionalized gender discrimination” that includes unequal pay with their counterparts on the men’s national team.

The USSF claims every decision made “with respect to the conduct alleged in the complaint was for legitimate business reasons and not for any discriminatory or other unlawful purpose.”

The federation has maintained the differences in pay are the result of different collective bargaining agreements that establish distinct pay structures for the two teams. Those agreements are not public.

U.S. Soccer also maintained in the response that any alleged differences in pay between the men’s and women’s national teams were not based on gender, but “differences in the aggregate revenue generated by the different teams and/or any other factor other than sex.”

The USSF and the women’s team agreed in April 2017 to a collective bargaining agreement through 2021 that gave the players higher pay and better benefits.

The federation claims the allegations do not rise to the level required for punitive damages because there is no evidence of malicious, reckless or fraudulent intent to deny the players their rights.

The lawsuit brought by current national team players is an escalation of a long-simmering dispute over pay and treatment. Five players filed a complaint in 2016 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that alleged wage discrimination by the federation. The lawsuit effectively ended that EEOC complaint.

It will be interesting to see how this case plays out, as it’s illegal for an employer to pay women a different amount than their male co-workers if they are working the same job and have the same level of experience and skill. As this case shows, there are two main federal laws that make it illegal to pay women less simply based on their gender. Title VII prohibits any workplace discrimination based on sex, race, or religion. The Equal Pay Act makes it illegal for an employer to pay women a different amount for substantially similar work.

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A roofing contracting company based in Thonotosassa, Florida has paid $265,001 in back wages to 67 employees after a U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) investigation found the employer violated overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The employer also paid $17,753 in civil money penalties for repeat violations.

WHD investigators found the roofing contracting company paid employees a piece rate without regard to the number of hours they actually worked. This practice resulted in violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek, but the employer failed to pay them overtime in addition to their piece rates.

WHD also cited recordkeeping violations when the employer failed to maintain daily and weekly records of the number of hours employees worked.

If your employer is denying your overtime pay or if you work more than 40 hours in a workweek and do not see overtime on your paycheck, our Florida Unpaid Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover every penny you have worked for and deserve.

When you work more than 40 hours in a workweek, federal law mandates that you should be compensated at the rate of one and half times your hourly wage. Employees cannot be required to work more than 40 hours in a single week without additional compensation.

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Four women have joined the class action lawsuit alleging discrimination against pregnant and breastfeeding AC Transit employees.

The transportation agency allegedly discriminates and fails to accommodate pregnant women who work for them.

On of the women says she was offered a room where she was told she pump breast milk when she returned to work after her first pregnancy in 2016 – it was an old closet she describes as dirty and that had no privacy.

The woman left her job as a bus driver and now gets paid less as an AC Transit clerk, all so that she can pump.

Another woman says the company makes it difficult for expecting mothers. She joined the suit after she fell asleep at the wheel and crashed her bus while pregnant. She says she asked for lighter desk work prior to the accident but was not accommodated.

So far, four women in total allege that AC Transit refused to accommodate their pregnancy or lactation needs and that they are in violation of their legal rights.

AC Transit released a statement saying that they work with new mothers and value the importance of women in the workforce, and that “it is important to note, modifications of duties can present logistical challenges given the nature of public transit. However, ac transit adopts an individual process that takes into account accommodation options for each new mom and her newborn throughout the first year of life.”

Juggling a family and work is no easy feat, especially for new moms. Seeking a balance between earning money and parental responsibilities can be quite difficult. There are laws in place that protect pregnant and nursing mothers in the workplace. Workplace discrimination based on pregnancy and nursing is illegal, and our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can make sure that you know what your rights are and that they remain protected.

When your employer prevents you from pumping breast milk during work hours, it may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Under FLSA, employers must provide breastfeeding mothers reasonable break time and a private space (other than a bathroom) to pump at work for one year following their child’s birth.

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Two female employees are suing Walt Disney Co., alleging the company is violating the state’s equal pay act and paying women less than men doing similar work.

The class action lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court and is covering people who worked for Walt Disney Studios in roughly the last four years.

Disney said the lawsuit was “baseless.” In a statement, the company said it maintains “robust pay equity practices and policies” and has a specialized team of compensation professionals and lawyers to address the matter. “We are confident that they [the claims] will be found to be meritless when tested against the evidence, rather than the rhetoric of the complaint.”

The lawsuit was brought by Southern California Disney employees. One woman works as a manager in product development for Disney in Glendale. In 2017, she raised the issue that she was not being compensated fairly, the lawsuit said. At the time, her base salary was $109,958. Six other men who held the same title were paid $16,000 to nearly $40,000 more, according to the lawsuit. Five months after she brought up the issue, the woman said, Disney asserted that her salary amount “was not due to gender,” but in November 2018, the company boosted her pay by $25,000, the lawsuit claims. Even with the pay adjustment, the woman believes she is still making less than men doing similar work.

The other woman works as a senior copyright administrator in the Disney Music Group in Burbank. She says she was discouraged from applying for a manager position that was later changed to a senior manager role and given to a man. The lawsuit claims that “he is making significantly more than the woman even though they are both performing the same or substantially similar work.”

Our Florida Employment Law Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to helping bring about gender pay equality. There are laws in place requiring employers to pay women and men the same for equal work. These laws extend beyond salary, including bonuses and other benefits. If you are getting paid less than your male coworkers, we can help you understand your rights and achieve justice.

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After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Crown Linen LLC – based in Orlando, Florida – will pay $60,863 in back wages to 15 employees for violations of the overtime and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators found that the employer incorrectly considered two groups of employees as exempt from the overtime requirements as managers under the FLSA. This misapplication of the exemption resulted in the employer paying overtime-eligible employees flat weekly salaries with no regard to the number of hours they worked.

This practice resulted in violations when these employees worked more than 40 hours per week and were not paid overtime. Additionally, the employer paid other employees straight time instead of overtime when they worked over 40 hours in a workweek.

The employer also failed to maintain required records of the number of hours employees worked.

How your employer classifies you matters a tremendous deal to your income. If you have been lumped into a managerial position you will lose out on certain benefits that other workers receive, including overtime pay. The law is crystal clear about who should be tited a manager, so if you are worried that your employer has classified you as a manager in error, you may be entitled to financial compensation for back pay and overtime wages.

Our Orlando Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are committed to protecting the rights of employees. We can help determine if a misclassification has occurred in your case and explore your options going forward.

Under federal law, certain qualifications must be met in order for an employee to be considered a manager, including:

  • A guaranteed weekly salary of $455 per week
  • No pay reductions based on the quality or quantity of work in any given week
  • No pay deductions for normal business losses
  • Managers must be responsible for directing the work of at least two employees
  • Managers must be allowed to weigh in on hiring/firing decisions

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After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), Paradise Villa Retirement Home Inc. – operator of five South Florida assisted living facilities – has paid $103,389 in back wages to 20 employees for violating minimum wage, overtime, and recordkeeping provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators concluded that Paradise Villa Retirement Home Inc. inaccurately classified caregivers as independent contractors rather than employees and paid them flat rates per day without regard to the number of hours they actually worked.

This practice resulted in minimum wage violations when those flat rates failed to cover all the hours employees worked at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Overtime violations resulted when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek but were paid only their flat rates with no overtime.

WHD also cited recordkeeping violations when the employer failed to maintain records of the number of hours employees worked.

Misclassifying workers as independent contractors is a very common practice in the workplace. While illegal, some employees elect to engage in these wage theft practices to evade their responsibility to pay workers their legally required wages and benefits.

Is your employer violating your labor rights by misclassifying your job? If your employer is treating you like an independent contractor instead of an employee, our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton may be able to help.

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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Whittel & Melton secured an $80,000 settlement for a female bartender who was sexually harassed at an Italian restaurant in Orlando for over two years before being fired after complaining to the restaurant’s owner.

The bartender was regularly asked to go on dates, described to restaurant patrons as single and available to date them, subjected to sexual innuendo, and told to dress “sexy” and “date-ready,” among other things.

Under the settlement, the restaurant must conduct mandatory anti-harassment training for all employees and operate a telephone hotline for employees to report incidents of discrimination and harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can affect both men and women, and may include some of the following actions:

  • Touching an employee or coworker inappropriately
  • Promising a raise or promotion in exchange for sexual or romantic activities
  • Engaging in uninvited “x-rated” conversations
  • Unwarranted provocative gestures

Sexual harassment can be a traumatic experience that not everyone is comfortable talking about. However, if you are experiencing such illegal behavior at work, you do not need to suffer in silence. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know that coming forward with a sexual harassment complaint is not easy. That is why we will be there for you and guide you through the legal process, so that the wrongdoer is held accountable for their unlawful behavior.

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Hundreds of Laser Spine Institute employees who were fired Friday after the company unexpectedly shut down have now filed a federal lawsuit.

Laser Spine Institute announced Friday their doors were closing, and patients had to find new doctors while former employees have to find new jobs.

So far there have been three federal lawsuits filed on behalf of former employees. One of the filings claims the company violated what’s called the WARN Act because they didn’t notify employees of what was happening until the day the company closed.

Under the WARN Act, employees who don’t receive advance notice of the layoff are entitled to 60 days wages and benefits.

Officials from the Laser Spine Institute sent out this statement in response to the lawsuits filed Monday.

“The sudden closing of Laser Spine Institute was an unfortunate and heartbreaking situation.  It’s possible that some employees may not have remembered all of the information that was shared on Friday.  Employees will be paid for the hours they’ve worked and their benefits will be extended according to our normal separation policy.

With respect to the WARN Act, the company’s position is that it’s fully complied with these obligations.  The WARN act notices that have been filed are on file with the state of Florida. Laser Spine Institute intends to defend itself against these allegations.”

The Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification (WARN) Act requires that employers give employees 60 days advance written notice of a mass layoff or worksite closing. When employers fail to provide this notice, our Florida Employment Law Attorneys represent employees in class action litigation for damages in federal court.

Congress passed the WARN Act in 1988 to make sure employees receive advance notice of a mass layoff. Your rights under the WARN Act include:

  • The right to a 60 day notice
  • The right to recover wages and benefits
  • The right to receive adequate warning to look for and find a new job
  • The right to an explanation if you don’t receive 60 days notice

You still have rights if your company filed for bankruptcy. In fact, WARN Act claims are considerable and actually take priority over other creditors in bankruptcy court.

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