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If you have a claim against an employer or coworker, I will fight your case.
I will let you know if you have a claim or not after your free consultation.
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I work entirely on a contingency basis. If we don’t win, you don’t pay.
What is the difference between harassment and discrimination?
Discrimination and harassment in the workplace are both unlawful.
- Discrimination is being treated differently to others on the basis of other prohibited categories such as national origin, race/color, gender, religion, etc.
- Harassment is being mistreated by another person based on prohibited categories such as national origin, race/color, gender, religion, etc.
In simple terms, discrimination often feels unfair whereas harassment may feel intimidating or abusive. Discrimination and harassment violate both federal and Florida state employment laws.
In some cases, what starts as discrimination may evolve into harassment.
Table of Contents
- What is the difference between harassment and discrimination?
- What does the law say about workplace harassment?
- What constitutes workplace harassment?
- How to prove workplace harassment?
- Sexual harassment in the workplace
- Non-sexual harassment
- Have you been a victim of workplace harassment?
- Harassed at work? What do you do?
What does the law say about workplace harassment in Florida?
According to Florida law, harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based upon any of the following categories:
- National origin
- Genetic information
There are several pieces of legislation that govern workplace harassment, including:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
- The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
Workplace harassment becomes unlawful where:
- Enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or
- The conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive
You are entitled not only to put an end to the harassment in question.
You are also protected from retaliation for reporting the harassment or for filing a claim, testifying, or participating in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws.
What constitutes workplace harassment?
If you are looked over for a promotion that you think you deserve based on the results you have achieved, and you suspect it is because of your gender, you may have a case for workplace discrimination. However, if you are on the receiving end of lewd, offensive or derogatory remarks from your boss, you may have a case for workplace harassment.
It should not be tolerated any more than physical threats should be.
Some other specific examples of offensive conduct that constitute workplace harassment include:
- Offensive jokes
- Epithets or name calling
- Physical assaults or threats
- Ridicule or mockery
- Insults or put-downs
- Offensive objects or pictures
- Interference with work performance
Harassment can occur from many workplace entities, including:
- The victim’s supervisor or a supervisor in another area
- An agent of the employer
- A coworker
- A non-employee of the organization
Also, note that the victim does not have to be the person harassed but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Furthermore, it does not have to involve economic injury to the victim.
How to Prove Workplace Harassment
Many types of workplace conduct can be grounds for a harassment lawsuit. These types of behaviors can include:
- Physical conduct, such as assault, unwanted touching, indecent gestures, and sexual advances; and
- Verbal conduct, like name-calling, threats, slurs, insults, sexual comments, or intimidation.
These types of conduct may violate the law when they are unwelcome and the victim is a member of a protected class. Additionally, a victim needs to be able to show that the conduct is severe and pervasive enough that a reasonable person finds the conduct rises to the level of harassment, abuse, or hostility. If you have experienced hostile or harassing conduct by your colleagues or superiors, be sure to contact a workplace harassment attorney in Florida as soon as possible.
In some cases, just a single act can constitute a hostile work environment and give rise to a valid workplace harassment claim. But in most circumstances, to prove workplace harassment, the harassing behavior will need to be both severe and take place over an extended period of time to support a claim.
Additionally, documenting any harassment in real-time, such as keeping any hostile emails, vulgar voicemail recordings, lewd texts, and any contemporaneous notes, reports, or other materials can help prove your harassment claim. Your workplace harassment lawyer in Florida will be able to give you details about materials that can help prove or support your specific case. Documenting everything possible, including noting the date, time, location, and events can help strengthen or prove a claim of workplace harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace
One of the most common types of workplace harassment is sexual harassment.
Some examples include:
- A supervisor or manager making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to an employee
- An employer offering promotion or benefits in return for sexual favors
- A coworker displaying sexually explicit pictures
- Inappropriate touching or unwanted advances from a coworker or supervisor
Note that sexual harassment in the workplace, like all forms of harassment and discrimination, can originate from male or female employers or coworkers, or even non-employees of the company.
Sexual harassment can also be perpetrated by a person of the same gender. If you have been sexually harassed at your place of employment, contact a Florida workplace harassment attorney right away.
As well as sexual harassment, you are protected against harassment in the workplace based on:
- Race or color
- National origin
This includes slurs, “jokes,” offensive or derogatory comments based on any of the above-forbidden categories.
Some workplaces may violate the laws in multiple categories. They become hostile environments for employees with a culture of discrimination and harassment.
Others may just experience isolated cases of harassment.
Either way, it does not have to be tolerated.
Consequences of Workplace Harassment
Workplace harassment can have several harmful effects on employees and the business itself.
The targeted employee could develop serious emotional, mental and even physical illnesses. Workplace harassment could also take a toll on his or her work performance, which in turn could limit their advancement at the current or future business, as well as income.
The business that does not incorporate preventive measures or respond thoroughly to complaints can be held legally responsible, resulting in financial loss, a toxic reputation among customers and the public, poor employee morale and even talent drain as non-affected workers seek a safer place of employment.
It’s important to note: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, with its federal oversight of workplace harassment cases, takes an especially tough stance when the harasser is the person’s supervisor. Specifically, the EEOC states, “The employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in a negative employment action such as termination, failure to promote or hire, and loss of wages.” That’s another reason why workplace harassment prevention, training and effective response are foundational to a business’s operations and culture.
Have you been a victim of workplace harassment?
Harassment in the workplace is a serious employment problem.
It can have grave effects on a person’s well-being and can damage their:
- Performance at work
- Career prospects
- Financial situation
- Physical and mental health
Sometimes, people do not report cases of harassment out of fear of losing their jobs.
However, state and federal laws protect you not only from the harassment itself but also from retaliation by an employer if you do make a complaint or claim.
The right legal advice at the start can empower you and provide peace of mind to put a stop to the harassment.
Employers’ Responsibility for Preventing Harassment
Florida law sets expectations that employers take appropriate actions to create a safe environment for everyone, and thus, prevent workplace harassment. Some strong, proactive measures employers can take include:
- Creating a clear and specific policy that defines workplace harassment and its consequences.
- Training employees and contractors at all levels every year, and providing targeted training modules for supervisors and Human Resources colleagues.
- Providing a confidential, safe system for reporting workplace harassment.
- Responding to claims quickly and thoroughly.
- Enforcing the policy and updating it as needed.
When to Contact a Workplace Harassment Lawyer in Florida
If a company ignores reports of workplace harassment, has a weak policy on workplace harassment (or none at all) or fails to adequately address the conduct, the person being harassed might consider consulting with an attorney specifically trained in and experienced with employment law cases.
Many victims of workplace harassment never file a complaint because they are afraid the harassment will become worse, they’ll be passed over for promotions and raises, or even lose their jobs. Often, they either suffer or leave the position. If they make a report and are retaliated against, an employment lawyer can help, too, as workplace retaliation is prohibited under federal and state law.
A workplace harassment lawyer advocates for affected employees by conducting his or her own investigation, advising on what types of evidence can support the case, bringing on workplace harassment experts, filing court papers, negotiating settlements and if needed, representing the victim in court. A strong workplace harassment case can result in the harmed employee receiving compensation for loss & suffering, restoration of diminished wages or role, and punitive damages.
Harassed at work? What do you do?
If you have been harassed at work, you may be able to take legal action that requires your employer to:
- Take action to restore you to the same position you would have been in if the discrimination had not taken place
- Pay damages to compensate you for back pay, benefits, emotional distress, suffering, and so on
- Prevent future acts of harassment in the workplace
As an experienced Florida workplace harassment attorney, I can help assess your case.
If pursuing legal action is the right option, I will also help you take the necessary steps to build your case.
From here, we need to:
- Assess your claim. Start by booking a free phone consultation below.
- Decide whether to pursue a complaint after our consultation.
- File a complaint or lawsuit with a local or federal agency, or state or federal court.
- Prepare the paperwork so that we can draft the complaint or lawsuit.
Brenton Legal P.A. Attorneys Advocate for You
Our experienced lawyers also handle clients with other types of employment cases, including:
- Overtime/Unpaid wages,
- Workplace discrimination,
- Family Medical Leave Act, and
- Whistleblower protection.
When you’re harassed at work, you might worry that you won’t be believed – especially if the harasser is a supervisor. The lawyers at Brenton Legal P.A. want to help people who are treated wrongly on the job. To them, unfair treatment of any kind in the workplace is inexcusable, and if you have a case, they will fight for you. They are professional, understanding, thorough and determined to present the strongest possible case.
Brenton Legal P.A. attorneys work on a contingency basis and do not seek payment unless there’s a decision in your favor. If you believe you’ve experienced workplace harassment, take the next step and schedule a free consultation by completing our user-friendly form or calling us at 954-639-4644.
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