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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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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Employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against Baycare Health System Inc., a Florida hospital, citing alleged unpaid wages, retaliation and violations of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act (FWCA).

A woman filed a complaint on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated on May 17, 2018, in the Pinellas Circuit Court against Baycare Health System Inc. alleging that it failed to compensate employees with proper wages and benefits.

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs allege that the woman and other similarly situated individuals have suffered irreparable injury and monetary damages as a result of the defendant’s discriminatory practices of interfering with their rights to FMLA and to compensation at the statutory rate of one-and-a-half times their regular rate of pay for overtime hours worked.

The hospital allegedly failed to pay employees an overtime premium for all of the overtime hours that they worked, failed to accurately record, report, and/or preserve records of hours worked by its employees, and failed to offer employees FMLA or otherwise notify them of their rights under FMLA.

The plaintiffs request a trial by jury and seek judgment against defendant for compensation for lost wages, benefits and other remuneration, reinstatement to a prior position with back pay plus interest, pension rights and all benefits, front pay, liquidated damages, interest, costs, attorney’s fees, and further relief as the court may deem just.

Under FMLA, eligible employees may take up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave during any 12 month period, for any of four general reasons:

  1. Birth and care of a newborn child
  2. Adoption placement
  3. Care for an immediate family member (spouse, parent, or child) with a serious health condition
  4. Personal medical leave because the employee is unable to work due to a serious health condition

There are further stipulations outlined under FMLA. In order to be eligible for FMLA leave, an employee must have been employed by the employer for at least 12 months and at least 1,250 hours during the twelve months immediately preceding the leave. Moreover, the employee must work at a site where there are at least fifty employees within seventy-five miles.

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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 woman is suing a vacation business, alleging discrimination, retaliation and wrongful termination.

The woman filed a complaint Oct. 17 in Orange County Circuit Court against Wyndham Vacation Ownership Inc., alleging violation of the Orange County Civil Rights Ordinance and the Family Medical Leave Act.

According to the complaint, in February the woman requested leave due to complications with her pregnancy. Prior to returning to work on or around March 7, the suit says, she was terminated for alleged poor performance.

The woman says she has suffered lost wages and benefits, emotional pain and suffering, humiliation, inconvenience, mental anguish and loss of enjoyment of life.

She alleges Wyndham Vacation Ownership subjected her to pregnancy-based discrimination and harassment and retaliated against her by terminating her employment for exercising her rights.

In regards to pregnancy, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a woman because she is with child. State and federal laws protect women against this form of discrimination in all aspects of employment, including interviewing, hiring, firing and promoting.

Pregnant employees may suffer from a variety of medical conditions during pregnancy and after childbirth. It is illegal for employers to discriminate against these employees. Some examples of medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth include:

  • Back pain
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Gestational diabetes
  • Any conditions that require bed rest
  • Lactation issues

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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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