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Articles Posted in Whistleblower Retaliation

A cook who worked in a Disney-owned restaurant has sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for allegedly retaliating against her after she filed a sexual harassment complaint.

The woman, who prepared food at Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the summer of 2018, filed a federal discrimination suit in Florida’s middle district court. She alleged that a chef who supervised her harassed her, touching her inappropriately and making crude jokes.

Disney transferred the chef so that he no longer supervised the woman but then fired her after her other managers retaliated against her, the woman alleged in the complaint.

Uber  has agreed to pay a $4.4 million fine to settle a 2017 charge from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pertaining to sex discrimination and retaliation.

The investigation found reasonable cause to believe that Uber “permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment,” the EEOC wrote in a press release. The EEOC  launched the investigation following reports pertaining to Uber’s workplace while under the leadership of then CEO Travis Kalanick.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that all employees can thrive at Uber by putting fairness and accountability at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in a statement. “I am extremely pleased that we were able to work jointly with the EEOC in continuing to strengthen these efforts.”

As part of the settlement, Uber will divvy up the $4.4 million to anyone who the EEOC determines experienced sexual harassment and/or retaliation at Uber after January 1, 2014. Uber also agreed to establish a system to identify employees who have been the subject of more than one harassment complaint, as well as identify managers who have not responded to sexual harassment concerns in a timely manner.

For the next three years, Uber will also face monitoring by former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez.

“This agreement holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation,” EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic said in a statement.

Now, a claims administrator will send notices to every female employee who worked at Uber at any point between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019. If that’s you, you’ll be able to respond to that notice to make your claim. The EEOC will then determine who is eligible for monetary relief.

The Civil Rights Act protects all employees from any type of sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition to harassment, this law also protects employees from retaliation. Retaliation happens when an employer punishes an employee for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. What many people do not know is that there are various federal laws in place that protect workers against retaliation and establish the rights of “whistleblowers” (people who file complaints about unsafe workplaces). 

Retaliation can take on numerous forms, including:

  • Demotion
  • Salary reduction
  • Job termination
  • Refusal of a raise
  • Denial of promotion
  • Missed training opportunities
  • Job reassignment
  • Less desirable schedule
  • Poor performance review
  • Micromanagement
  • Exclusion from staff activities

What is important to understand is that not all adverse employer actions are retaliation. 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 in your workplace is retaliating against you for filing a complaint against them, our Florida Whistleblower and Retaliation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to reach out to us so that we can help with your claim. We have offices scattered throughout Florida and can take cases from anywhere in the state. Our staff of lawyers can investigate your claim and help you understand if retaliation is taking place and what we can do to help it stop. By working with us, we can show you how to get back on your feet and obtain justice for being harrassed, discriminated against, and/or retaliated against at work. 

When you obtain legal counsel from a law firm, you are taking a giant step in the right direction towards eliminitating sexual harassment in the workplace. Our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have extensive knowledge and experience with all workplace issues and will be able to provide valuable insight into your unique situation.

When we build a retaliation case, we must be able to demonstrate and prove there is a connection between your recent sexual harassment or discrimination complaint and your employer’s adverse actions. As soon as you suspect retaliation, we urge you to start documenting everything. Take record of each and every time something retaliatory occurs. This may include keeping copies of reports or emails that can help your case, like a positive performance review prior to the complaint and a negative one after. The more information you have to support your claim, the stronger your case may be.

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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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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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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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A former supervisor in Adam Putnam’s Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services sued the agency in 2013, claiming “gross misconduct” in the handling of gun permit applications. The woman also claims that quotas for approving concealed weapon permits “guaranteed abuse,” according to reports.

In a whistle-blower lawsuit filed in a Leon County circuit court, the former chief of the Bureau of License Issuance, said she was threatened with retaliation for saying workers were deficient in processing licensing applications, and that her bosses told her she “worked for the NRA (National Rifle Association).”

The agency denied most of the woman’s allegations in court filings. But in a settlement signed in 2016, the agency agreed to pay $30,000, without admitting wrongdoing, including a $10,000 lump sum payment to the woman and $20,000 for her attorney’s fees and costs.

The False Claims Act allows a person or organization to bring a lawsuit against a government company that receives public funds after they have witnessed an act of fraud against the government. Taking legal action like this is called qui tam and the plaintiffs are known as whistleblowers, hence the name whistleblower suit.

Whistleblower suits often involve illegal kickbacks, Medicare fraud, FDA regulation violations, financial fraud claims involving the Dodd-Frank Act, and claims that fall under the IRS whistleblower reward program. A whistleblower can be awarded between 15 and 30 percent of the overall recovery of a successful qui tam lawsuit. This amount can add up to millions of dollars.

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A Fort Lauderdale employer is being sued over allegations of unpaid overtime wages and retaliation for reporting the unpaid wages as well as discrimination, a hostile work environment and retaliation for complaints about such behavior.

The claim alleges that the company was negligent in paying wages for overtime and created a hostile work environment. A former employee is requesting the company pay damages.

The former employee is a “Hispanic (Cuban Black) male and is a member of” a protected class under the U.S. Civil Rights Act and the Florida Civil Rights Act.

He was employed by the company from October 10, 2014, until July 23 and during his employment was responsible for “maintaining and monitoring inventory, distributing parts, and billing customers,” according to the complaint.

After he was promoted to operations coordinator, a white man was promoted to branch manager. This is when the man claims his hours were cut by the manager, a practice that was not inflicted on nonblack or non hispanic employees. He claims he was treated differently than other employees, and that the manager let other employees make racist comments.

The former employee said he made complaints to the Human Resources department but no changes were made. He alleges that the company tampered with his timecard and failed to pay him overtime wages.

After the man complained to Human Resources, he claims his manager terminated him.

The man is requesting a trial by jury and damages of unpaid wages and court costs.

When racial discrimination costs you your job or leads to you being demoted, you need to take a legal stance and fight for justice. Sadly, race discrimination in the workplace continues to be an unpleasant reality for many workers. Our South Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you address the injustice you have experienced and get you the financial justice you need to move forward.

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A former employee has filed a lawsuit against The University of Phoenix, alleging national origin discrimination, color discrimination, racial discrimination and retaliation.

The Broward County woman filed a complaint on April 27 in Broward Circuit Court against The University of Phoenix Inc. alleging violation of the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act.

According to the complaint, the woman, a black Haitian, worked for the University of Phoenix from January 2007 until July 10, 2017 when she was terminated. She says she was deprived of her rights, exposed to ridicule and embarrassment, and suffered emotional distress and other damages, as a result of the discriminatory treatment and the hostile work environment she suffered from her supervisors.

The lawsuit states that the woman’s race and color were the motivating factor in her dismissal.

The suit goes on to state that The University of Phoenix failed to make prompt remedial action to prevent continued discrimination toward the woman and deprived her of her statutory rights under the Florida law.

Federal and state laws strictly prohibit racial discrimination in the workplace. Employers cannot make decisions to hire, fire, promote, or to provide training or other benefits because of a person’s race, color or national origin.  

Our South Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have the experience and commitment needed to aggressively fight employers who have mistreated employees at work or fired them because of their race or national origin. We can also protect employees who have been wrongfully retaliated against because they spoke up against race discrimination.

An employee who proves racial discrimination in the workplace did in fact occur may recover lost wages and financial compensation for the emotional harm inflicted upon them. In some cases, employees subjected to race discrimination may receive awards of punitive damages, or can even be reinstated to their jobs or promoted to their rightful position should it have been unfairly denied due to discrimination.

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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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