Articles Posted in Wrongful Termination

A deaf woman won $775,000 in damages after a Broward County jury agreed with her claim that her disability led to her unjust termination from her job as a stocker at the Pompano Beach Costco wholesale club.

The woman worked at the company for 24 years before her termination in October 2013, according to the suit, which was filed in September 2015 in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale.

After she was written up for being too loud, the woman sent a letter to Costco’s CEO complaining about the treatment, the suit says. Shortly after, she was suspended for a week, and eight days after she was told about the suspension, the woman was terminated, the suit says.

The woman sought damages under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992, claiming actions by Costco managers were “intentional, willful, malicious and with gross disregard for [her] rights.”

In its response, the wholesale club denied the woman’s discrimination claims, as well as her assertion that she “never had any performance problems, and was never warned, counseled or disciplined at any time during her tenure” at Costco.

Costco responded that the woman was disciplined “on numerous occasions throughout her employment for serious misconduct and insubordination.”

The jury disagreed in a trial that began May 29, awarding $750,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish caused by the denial of reasonable accommodations after Dec. 9, 2012, and $25,000 as punitive damages for Costco’s failure to provide reasonable accommodations.

Being deaf or hard of hearing is considered a disability in Florida and across the country. Employers are required to provide adjustments or certain training protocols that enable persons with disabilities to enjoy equal employment opportunities. Employers are also required to make sure they communicate effectively with deaf employees. This can include having qualified sign language interpreters, including ASL interpreters, for important job-related communications.

Sadly, many employers do not try and meet these standards, and as a result, poor communication and confusion ensues. This often leads to unwarranted disciplinary action, discrimination and even wrongful termination of workers who are deaf or hard of hearing, as this case clearly shows.

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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 Pinellas County man alleges he was wrongfully terminated by a timeshare sales company in Orange County while out on medical leave.

The man filed a complaint on April 26 in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Orange County against Hilton Grand Vacations Club LLC alleging Family and Medical Leave Act interference and retaliation.

According to the complaint, the man began working for the company in October 2016 and submitted paperwork for FMLA leave in November 2017 to care for a medical condition. He alleges he was terminated in January with an effective date of Dec. 21, 2017, for absenteeism.

He holds Hilton Grand Vacations Club LLC responsible because the company interfered with his rights under the FMLA.

Under the FMLA, it is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee in retaliation for taking FMLA leave or attempting to exercise his or her FMLA rights.Employers are also prohibited from interfering with, restraining, or denying an employee’s exercise of his or her FMLA rights.  

To establish a claim for FMLA interference, an employee must prove the following:

  • They are an eligible employee
  • The employer is a covered employer
  • They are entitled to take FMLA leave
  • Notice of the employee’s intention to take the FMLA leave was given to the employer
  • The employee was denied a benefit they are entitled under the FMLA

In order to establish a claim for FMLA retaliation, an employee must prove the following:

  • They engaged in a protected activity
  • Adverse job action was taken against them
  • There is a causal connection between the activity and the adverse job action

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc settled a lawsuit on Wednesday by a transgender former employee in North Carolina who accused the retail giant of unlawfully firing her for complaining about harassment.

Wal-Mart did not disclose the terms of the settlement in a joint filing agreeing to dismiss the case in federal court in Greensboro, North Carolina. The company did not admit to wrongdoing.

Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company does not tolerate discrimination.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, a nonprofit that represents the former employee, said they sued Wal-Mart in December, after the employee’s coworkers at a Kannapolis, North Carolina, Sam’s Club store called her “sir,” “that thing with an attitude” and “shim,” a slur combining “she” and “him.” The former employee also said her male boss subjected her to unwanted physical advances and referred to her as “it.”

Wal-Mart owns Sam’s Club.

The former worker started at the store in March 2004, and began presenting as a woman at work in 2008, according to her lawsuit.

She said she was fired in March 2015 in retaliation for complaining to supervisors about harassment, and because they believed that she suffered from “gender dysphoria,” or distress with the sex she was assigned at birth.

She accused Wal-Mart of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

When the lawsuit was filed, the TLDEF said that companies like Wal-Mart should not only have strong anti-discrimination policies, but also make sure they are enforced.

Transgender is used to describe a person whose gender identity or gender expression is not what society typically associated with the sex that was assigned to them at birth. While this specific case takes place in North Carolina, our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton would like to address how this pertains to Florida where employment is generally at will. Regardless of that fact, wrongful termination based on transgender discrimination is unlawful and may form the basis of a lawsuit. Our Discrimination Lawyers may be able to assist employees who have received a wrongful termination.

Florida is an “at will” state, which means that an employer may terminate an employee for no reason or any reason, even if the reason seems unfair to the employee. However, when someone is fired based on an employee’s membership in a particular class of people protected under anti-discrimination laws, the termination is then considered a wrongful termination, which means the employee may sue to recover damages related to the termination.

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An employee is suing Walt Disney, claiming he was discriminated against because of his age.  

The man filed a complaint on April 23 in Orange County Circuit Court against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts USA Inc. alleging violation of Florida law.

According to the complaint, the 61-year-old man, a military veteran, has worked for Disney since 1996. The suit says in March 2017, Disney denied him a promotion to security manager despite his meeting the requirements for the position.

He alleges Walt Disney Parks and Resorts USA denied him to advance from the promotional process to the interview phase because of his age. The suit says Disney treated a 45-year-old employee more favorably who was much younger and did not possess the leadership experience required for the job.

Employees should only be judged on the quality of their work. Sadly, many older employees find that they are subjected to arbitrary stereotypes, which is not only unfair, but also illegal. Many employers make the unjust assumption that older employees are not able to keep pace with younger employees, which is not true.

Federal and state laws prohibit employers from engaging in age discrimination. An employee may not be fired or otherwise discriminated against regarding the terms of their employment on the basis of age. If you feel that you have been the victim of age discrimination, please let our Florida Discrimination Attorneys at Whittel & Melton help you. Whether through counseling, litigation, or negotiation, we provide victims of age discrimination an outlet for addressing their concerns and a way to hold the at-fault party accountable for their wrongdoing.   

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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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The Professional Golfers’ Association Tour is accused of wrongfully firing a gay employee after months of denying him paid breaks and adequate compensation.

The worker says he accepted a job with the PGA and moved from Florida to California to work on the Ellie Mae Classic, one of the tournaments on the association’s Web.com tour. He was forced to work 60 hour workweeks in a cubicle in the staff kitchen, according to his complaint. His supervisor made derogatory comments about gay people and gay dating apps before firing him, according to the complaint.

Federal appeals courts are split on whether Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act bars discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. California law protects workers from such discrimination.

The man originally filed his lawsuit in Alameda Superior Court and claimed 15 causes of action, including discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation and his attention disorder, failure to accommodate, retaliation, wrongful termination, fraudulent inducement to move, and failure to pay overtime and to provide paid breaks.

The PGA denied the allegations and liability. It re-filed the case in federal court April 18.

Sexual orientation is defined as “heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality.” An employer cannot terminate an employee strictly for being heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual. On that same note, an employee cannot be discriminated against based off their sexual orientation.

Name-calling or using derogatory labels for homosexuals, as well as mocking can be enough to successfully demonstrate workplace discrimination. Any discrimination based on sexual orientation that results in a hostile work environment is strictly prohibited under state and federal laws.

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Coral Gables Trust Company (CGTC), a South Florida-based privately held trust company that provides wealth investment management and trust services throughout Florida, will pay $180,000 and provide significant equitable relief to settle a sexual harassment and retaliation suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, a female executive assistant and marketing officer was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her gender and then retaliated against after she complained. The hostile work environment included verbal and physical harassment based on her sex at CGTC’s Coral Gables office and at various locations throughout South Florida that the executive assistant visited on business trips.

Sexual harassment and retaliation for complaining about it violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against CGTC in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, Miami Division after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through EEOC’s conciliation process.

The EEOC and CGTC reached an agreement to resolve the suit through a consent decree that requires the company paying $180,000 to the discrimination victim and providing her with a positive job reference. In addition, the decree requires that CGTC retain an independent equal employment opportunity consultant to investigate all complaints of sex-based harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The company must also distribute a revised policy against sex discrimination; post a notice informing employees about the suit; provide anti-discrimination training to all managers and employees; and provide individual training to the company’s chief wealth advisor. Further, CGTC agreed to designate two board members to receive future complaints of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation.

A spokesman for the EEOC said that “they will not only keep enforcing federal anti-harassment laws, it will also continue to encourage employers to implement and maintain robust training in order to prevent harassment from occurring in the first place.”

If you are wrongfully terminated or even demoted from your job as a result of reporting sexual harassment in your workplace, your employer could be liable for retaliation. Florida and federal laws are unmistakably clear that termination or demotion as a result of reporting harassment or discrimination is illegal.

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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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