Archive for the ‘Florida Civil Rights Act’ Category

Federal and state protections against race discrimination apply to you when working for an employer, but are also relevant when you apply for a job with an employer. An employer may not discriminate against you in making a hiring decision based upon your race, gender, age, etc. Of course, proving the reason why they refused to hire you is another issue altogether. Although, its easier, as in the case of Bass Pro where they tell you why they are not hiring you.

The federal government has sued national outdoor retail chain Bass Pro Outdoor World alleging racial discrimination in its hiring practices dating back to 2005. The Equal Opportunity Commission, a federal agency charged with enforcing anti-discrimination laws in employment, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Houston on Wednesday. The lawsuit alleges that qualified African-Americans and Hispanics were routinely denied positions at Bass Pro stores and managers of stores in Houston, Louisiana and other locations made derogatory racial comments acknowledging the practice. The commission also alleges that Bass Pro destroyed documents related to applications and internal discrimination complaints and retaliated against those who spoke up.

Bass Pro denies all of the allegations and complains that the EEOC suit is prompted in part by the perception that people who like NASCAR and the outdoors are more likely to engage in discrimination.

If you believe you have been refused a job or promotion, based upon your race, age, sex or gender, feel free to file a Charge with the EEOC or call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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Under Federal law, a woman can not be discriminated against or terminated based upon her being pregnant. Typically, there are also state laws, such as in Florida the Florida Civil Rights Act, that mirror the Federal laws. However, agricultural giant Olam International has not been following the law which has resulted in them being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

A woman named Jennifer Heintz claims she was offered a job as an executive assistant to two presidents with Olam. She took the job, but three days later, she was told the company was holding off on filling the position. Four days after that, Olam hired another person to fill the position. Heitz contends that the job offer to her was withdrawn based upon her being pregnant. Apparently, the EEOC agreed since the EEOC, in most cases, does not bring suit on behalf of an empoyee.

A lawyer for the EEOC stated, about pregnancy discrimination:

“It remains a serious problem — women not getting jobs, women being forced out of jobs, essentially being fired, and in this case, hired and fired immediately after they learned of the pregnancy.”

And the problem seems to be getting worse. In the five years from 1997 to 2001, the EEOC received 20809 pregnancy discrimination complaints. In the last five years, they received 29088, a 40% increase.

The EEOC further stated, “There is an added stigma because you become pregnant, therefore in the future and after even you have your child, that you will not be a productive worker,” she said. “That’s simply not true.”

If you believe you have suffered termination or discrimination due to your pregnancy, or have been denied Family Medical Leave, feel free to contact Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm for a free consultation.

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One of the areas of frequent complaint with employers, especially in areas such as South Florida and California is whether an employer can force an employee to speak only english in the workplace. In some instances, this requirement is a violation of federal and/or state law constituting national origin discrimination.

Some of these rules implemented by employers are referred to as “English Only” rules. The question with these types of rules is whether the employer had a business justification for having such a rule. Even where an English-only rule has been adopted for nondiscriminatory reasons, the employer’s use of the rule should relate to specific circumstances in its workplace. An English-only rule is justified by “business necessity” if it is needed for an employer to operate safely or efficiently. The following are some situations in which business necessity would justify an English-only rule:

For communications with customers, coworkers, or supervisors who only speak English

In emergencies or other situations in which workers must speak a common language to promote safety

For cooperative work assignments in which the English-only rule is needed to promote efficiency

To enable a supervisor who only speaks English to monitor the performance of an employee whose job duties require communication with coworkers or customers

So for example, if you work in a bank, it may be appropriate for your employer to speak only English in dealing with customers or on the front line, but it may not be appropriate to discipline an employee for speaking another language in the break room with another employee.

As with other employment laws, it would also be illegal for an employer to terminate or retaliate against an employee for complaining about English only requirements in the workplace.

If you believe that your employer is wrongfully using an English only rule, you should speak with the Human Resources Department or if necessary go the the EEOC or an employment lawyer to discuss these issues and possibly file a Charge of Discrimination.

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