Articles Posted in Pinellas County

An African-American employee is suing St. Petersburg, alleging discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint June 12 in Pinellas Circuit Court against the city of St. Petersburg, alleging violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, on Sept. 30, 2016, the man was terminated from his employment in the city’s Water Resources Department where he has been the first African-American interim director. He says he has suffered loss of employment, loss of income, privileges and benefits, mental and emotional distress, humiliation, embarrassment and damage to his professional reputation.

The man alleges St. Petersburg unlawfully discriminated against him based upon his race and terminated him in retaliation for reporting unlawful discrimination, allegedly his salary being less than whites who held the same position as interim director.

He seeks trial by jury, reinstatement to the equivalent position, actual and compensatory damages of more than $15,000, attorney fees, costs and all proper and just relief.

Even in this day and age, sadly racial discrimination is still rampant in the United States, especially at work. Our Tampa Bay Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton fight aggressively to put an end to racist policies and practices in the workplace.

Racial discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race, whatever race that may be, let us help you.

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A former employee is suing The Transition House Inc., alleging they failed to pay overtime, a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The woman filed a complaint May 9 in the Pinellas Circuit Court against The Transition House alleging that the Florida company failed its duty to pay employees for all hours worked.

According to the complaint, the woman says that she has suffered lost earnings from the company’s wrongful practice of denying her with earned wages for all overtime hours worked and for all meal breaks not taken.

She holds The Transition House responsible because they allegedly failed to properly apprise its employees of their rights under the FLSA, failed to keep or provide an accurate record of its employees’ hours worked, and failed to compensate its employees of overtime wages.

The FLSA clearly states that overtime pay entitles workers to one and a half times their regular hourly rate for each hour they work beyond their regular 40 hours in a week. Despite this fact, many employers refuse to pay their employees their rightfully earned overtime wages. These illegal business practices are unacceptable, and our Pinellas County Unpaid Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton can help you recover what is rightfully yours.

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A former employee is suing Steak and Shake, alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The woman filed a complaint March 26 in the Pinellas Circuit Court against Steak and Shake Inc., also known as Steak and Shake Operations Inc., alleging failure to provide an employee her proper wages.

According to the complaint, the woman worked as a waitress/server at Steak and Shake in Pinellas County from August 2015 through Feb. 27, 2018. She says she has suffered monetary damages as a result of the restaurant’s wrongful conduct of utilizing the tip credit instead of paying her with regular minimum wage and also requiring her to perform labor after she had officially clocked out.

She alleges Steak and Shake Operations has failed, refused and/or neglected to keep accurate time records, and refuses to pay her the minimum wage rate of pay as required by FLSA, raw wages believed to be more than $2,250.

The FLSA governs the most basic interactions between employers and employees. The FLSA establishes a standard for minimum wage, overtime pay, and other labor laws. Employers can be in violation of the FLSA if they misclassify hourly employees as exempt, deny overtime, order employees to work after clocking out, allow managers to take from employees’ tips, alter time cards, or require employees to work more than forty hours per week.

Employees who work in restaurants where tips comprise a portion of the employees’ compensation are usually at higher risk when it comes to illegal employer behavior. Common violations include illegally docking time off cards, including managers in tip pools, deducting tips from paychecks, paying employees less than the minimum wage, and refusing to pay overtime.

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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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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 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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An employee is suing a Pinellas County business, alleging violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

The man filed a complaint Sept. 25 in Pinellas County Circuit Court against the Pinellas County business,  alleging they failed to pay employees for all hours worked.

According to the complaint, from Nov. 1, 2009, June 30, 2017, the man suffered economic injuries from working for the company as a non-exempt employee. The suit says the man provided in-home support and other services for special needs adults. As a result, the lawsuit states, he worked more than 40 hours per week, but was not compensated at the statutory rate of one and a half their regular rate of pay as required by FLSA.

The man alleges the business denied applicable overtime wages under the FLSA, and forced the man to incur legal services and fees to protect his interest.

In many unpaid wage cases, the problem with wage and hour violations begins with employee misclassification. People entitled to overtime for hours more than 40 in a workweek are often misclassified as exempt from overtime pay. Workers operating as full-time employees are misclassified as independent contractors. Our Pinellas County Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are experienced in dealing with misclassifications amongst employees. Once we expose these errors and violations, we can fully understand what compensation and backpay you are owed, which could be substantial.

We represent both salaried and hourly employees, and we are fully aware of which industries and occupations are most common for failing to pay their employees properly.  

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A former Largo plumbing inspector is suing the city, claiming that officials violated a law meant to protect whistle-blowers by firing him in retaliation for a complaint he filed with a state agency.

According to the lawsuit, the man’s former bosses conspired to fire him in November after he accused city plans examiners of approving building plans without proper qualifications last summer in complaints to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

The city manager said the 57-year-old was fired based on several instances of misconduct unrelated to the complaint. According to a disciplinary report issued in November, the man improperly completed or didn’t complete building inspections. He also allegedly joked in an email that two city employees were involved in an affair.

According to the suit, the unlicensed activity resulted in a 911 call center being inoperable for the first two weeks it was open. It also caused faulty plumbing and electrical work in several large projects, including two Walmarts, a Wawa and an apartment complex.

The man filed complaints against four separate employees, according to reports.

To review aspects of a plan such as the electrical or plumbing work, an examiner must have a license in that discipline to ensure the project meets building code. The investigation found that one employee let someone review a plumbing plan on a house in Largo without a plumbing license.

The man hopes his lawsuit prevents any similar issues with his former department.

Blowing the whistle on illegal activities in your workplace is never easy. Sometimes doing the right thing can backfire and lead to retaliation and even termination.

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A nurse has filed a $6.5 million lawsuit against St. Petersburg General Hospital and parent company HCA Holdings for allegedly using a positive drug test as the reason for terminating her when she says the move was really in retaliation for filing a discrimination complaint.

The nurse was one of four African-American nurses employed at St. Petersburg General, which is owned by HCA. She was the only African-American charge nurse and filed a race discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2013.

However, when she slipped on a wet floor at that hospital, she had to submit to a urine drug screen. On May 23, 2014, she was told by the hospital that her drug test was positive and she was immediately suspended and then fired later that day.

Once notified of the test result, she obtained proof from her pharmacy that she possessed a prescription for the medication. Regardless, she was terminated.

The woman’s lawsuit, filed in federal court in the Middle District of Florida, comes after the EEOC issued her a “right to sue” letter on Nov. 3, 2016, after she made a new complaint for retaliation for her termination.

Florida state and federal laws protect workers against racial discrimination in the workplace. People of every national origin are legally entitled to work in an environment where they are treated equally. Employers have a duty to uphold policies that prevent racial discrimination in any form.

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One of St. Petersburg’s highest ranking sewage operators has filed for federal whistleblower protection, claiming the city was warned that closing a water treatment facility would result in sewage being dumped into Tampa-area waterways.

Since August 2015, St. Petersburg has dumped more than 190 million gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay and other local waterways. The sewage operator says city officials were warned this could happen when they shut down the Albert Whitted water treatment facility.

The man has sent a letter informing the mayor and City Council that he has filed for federal whistleblower protection, citing public safety.

In the document, he says he is “exercising my rights” under the whistleblower act and Federal Water Pollution Control Act “prohibiting retaliation against any employee who reports alleged violation relating to discharge of pollutants into water.”

The whistleblower letter claims a 2014 study showed St. Petersburg’s southwest water treatment plant “could not handle the flow due to high weather events” if Albert Whitted were to close.

Despite the concerns, the man claims the city closed the plant anyway without making the recommended upgrades to the southwest site.  

Moving forward, the man recommends the city reopen the Albert Whitted facility until the necessary upgrades are complete.

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