Articles Posted in Florida

El Grande Supermarket in Tampa will pay $198,039 in back pay and damages after demonstrating great diversity in ways of violating federal pay rules, the U.S. Department of Labor announced.

That money will go to 17 workers, each worker receiving an average of $11,649.35.

The supermarket run got caught with violations in:

▪ Minimum wage: The Department of Labor said El Grande paid one person a flat salary, then watched as that person worked so many hours, the hourly rate didn’t even reach the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

▪ Overtime: The store paid some overtime-eligible people straight time.

▪ Keeping track of pay: The store failed to record cash payments made to workers, and failed to maintain other required payroll records.

As an employee, you have the right to a fair wage as defined by state and federal law. You may also be entitled to overtime pay. If you are concerned that your employer is not paying you the correct amount, or refusing to pay you proper wages, our Tampa Unpaid Wage and Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. Our firm assists employees throughout the Tampa Bay area enforce their right to a fair wage.

As of Jan. 1, 2019, Florida minimum wage is $8.46 an hour. Tipped workers should be paid $5.44 an hour. In regards to overtime pay, all Florida workers must be paid overtime pay of time and a half for any hours worked over 40 during a workweek.

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A White House security specialist has been suspended without pay for defying her supervisor Carl Kline, less than a week after NBC News reported Kline approved Jared Kushner for top secret clearance over the objections of career staff.

NBC News reported that the specialist had filed a discrimination complaint against Kline three months ago.

Her two-week suspension from the White House security office was for failure to supervise, failure to follow instructions and defiance of authority, according to the suspension decision notice obtained by NBC News. Security office chief Crede Bailey first proposed the suspension on Dec. 3, 2018.

The woman’s lawyer considers her a whistleblower and said he believes the administrative charges were brought as payback for her decision to file the complaint against Kline.

No employee should have to endure retaliation for illegal conduct in the workplace. Federal whistleblower retaliation laws prohibit employers from taking retaliatory action against employees, including termination, suspension, and harassment.

No matter the work related challenge you are faced with, our Whistleblower Retaliation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton will provide you with the legal knowledge and recommendations to address your specific situation. We are dedicated to resolving your concerns in the most efficient way possible.

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The former executive pastry chef at Mar-a-Lago is suing President Donald Trump’s private club and two senior managers claiming he was laid-off in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment against two female chefs.

The ex-chef, who worked at the club in Palm Beach from 2012 to 2017, reported to the club’s human resources department complaints he received from two young chefs who said they had been targets of sexual harassment, including lewd text messages, by two married, high-level food and beverage managers, according to the lawsuit.

Mar-a-Lago’s management looked into the ex-chef’s claims and he was interviewed as part of the investigation, which resulted in both managers receiving written reprimands and apologizing to the women, according to the lawsuit. About six months later, in October 2017, according to the suit, the managers who were reprimanded then laid him off, saying the club expected to lose $2.5 million from charity fundraisers that were canceled in the wake of the president’s comments about a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that left one woman dead.

The man, who has also filed a federal employment discrimination action against the club, did not believe their explanation, saying in his complaint that at the same time the club was hiring more foreign guest workers than it had the year before, including pastry chefs.

As for the lag time between the managers’ reprimand and the elimination of his position, the man said in his federal complaint that he believed they “waited sufficient time to cover their tracks, and then retaliated against me.”

Trump routinely receives visas to hire foreign workers as housekeepers, servers and kitchen staff at Mar-a-Lago, as do other area resorts and businesses. Trump received visas for 78 workers for the 2018-19 season, up from 70 workers in 2017-18, when the man was laid off. During the 2016-17 season, Trump hired 64 foreign workers at his Palm Beach club.

The Civil Rights Act protects all employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. These laws also protect employees from retaliation. Retaliation often occurs when an employer punishes an employee for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. There are various federal laws that protect against retaliation and establish the rights of “whistleblowers,” people who file complaints about unsafe workplaces.

In order to establish grounds for a lawsuit, retaliation must have a negative impact on your employment. If you have reason to believe that an employer, manager, or another person is retaliating against you in the workplace, our Florida Retaliation Claims Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help. We can investigate your claim and help you learn whether retaliation is taking place. If you are indeed the victim of workplace retaliation, we will fight aggressively to obtain justice on your behalf.

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Eliza Dushku was written off CBS’ “Bull” after she confronted the series star Michael Weatherly about his behavior, according to a new report in The New York Times.

CBS confirms it paid a secret $9.5 million settlement to an actress this year after she accused the star of the hit show “Bull” of harassment.

The Times said when Dushku appeared on “Bull” last year, there were “well-developed plans” to make her a full-time cast member, but those plans allegedly ended after she came forward with allegations against the show’s star.

Dushku played a lawyer alongside Weatherly for just three episodes in season one. Dushku was written off the show within days of confronting Weatherly about behavior that made her uncomfortable. Among the allegations: he told “a rape joke” and said in “front of the cast and crew” he “would bend her over his leg and spank her.”

In another alleged incident on set, Dushku held up three fingers during a scene. She allegedly told investigators, Weatherly suggested she wanted a threesome with him and another male cast member.

The network agreed this year to pay Dushku a confidential settlement of $9.5 million, roughly the amount she would have earned as a series regular. Eight months later, when CBS investigators approached her, she allegedly told them: “My story is true and it’s really affected me.”

In a statement, CBS said: “The allegations in Ms. Dushku’s claims are an example that, while we remain committed to a culture defined by a safe, inclusive and respectful workplace, our work is far from done.”

Celebrities and normal everyday people can be victims of sexual harassment at work. If you have or believe you have become the victim of sexual harassment in a Florida workplace, you do not have to simply ignore it and move on. Sexual harassment by coworkers, managers, or employers is illegal and you have legal recourse to right these wrongs.

Sometimes, sexual harassment cases involve inappropriate comments or gestures. Other times, the harassment can be much more serious. It may involve someone being fired for illegitimate reasons or worse, sexual assault and battery. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have successfully handled all of these and we know how each Florida statute applies to particular sets of circumstances that arise in these cases. We know how to build you the strongest possible case.

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An internal investigation of former CBS chief Les Moonves has apparently turned up more evidence of sexual misconduct, as well as lying and destruction of evidence, throwing into jeopardy his $120 million severance package, according to the most recent reports.

Here is what’s known about the scandal so far:

Moonves, 69, largely credited with turning CBS around, was forced out in September, after The New Yorker published allegations from 12 women who said he subjected them to mistreatment that included forced oral sex, groping and retaliation if they resisted.

Moonves denied the accusations, though he said he had consensual relations with some of the women.

Lawyers hired by the network allege in a draft report that the TV executive committed “multiple acts of serious non consensual sexual misconduct” before and after he came to CBS in 1995. The report goes on to allege that he deleted numerous text messages and was “evasive and untruthful at times” under questioning.

Investigators claim they received reports about a network employee who was “on call” to perform oral sex on Moonves. Investigators also allege that he received oral sex from at least four CBS employees “under circumstances that sound transactional and improper to the extent that there was no hint of any relationship, romance, or reciprocity.”

The investigators say they interviewed 11 of the 17 women they knew had accused Moonves of misconduct and found their accounts credible.

The 59-page report is to be presented to CBS’s board of directors before the company’s annual meeting next week, according to reports.

The former CEO “vehemently denies having any non-consensual sexual relations. He never put or kept someone on the payroll for the purpose of sex,” according to reports.

Sexual harassment can encompass a variety of unwanted actions. This can include sexual advances, inappropriate touching, patting, pinching, groping, or leering. Unsavory comments made by your boss or co-workers about your body, appearance, sexual orientation, sex life, or your clothing is also a form of sexual harassment.

In the state of Florida, you have the right to work at your job without being sexually harassed by your co-worker, supervisor, boss or anyone else. You are also awarded the right to report any sexual harassment without being retaliated against by your employer.

Being forced to endure sexual harassment at work is damaging to your mental and physical well being, which can cause destruction to all aspects of your life. At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys understand sexual harassment laws and can develop a strategy to help you recover compensation for your suffering.

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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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