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Employment Discrimination

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

- Martin Luther King, Jr

Miami Employment Discrimination Attorney

Miami Employment Discrimination Attorney

When you go to your job every day, you have the right to work free from discrimination and without being subjected to different treatment because of your age, race, the color of your skin, religion, national origin, gender, pregnancy, sexual harassment, medical condition, disability or handicap. There are a variety of state and federal laws that are in place specifically to protect individuals and groups who fall under a series of “protected classes” that we will discuss in greater detail below. Discrimination often takes a wide range of forms, but regardless of the type of discrimination, the way adverse employment action is undertaken against you, or the impact that any discrimination may have on your life—personally or professionally—civil rights laws provide important protections for your workplace rights.

Read more below to learn about specific types of employment discrimination prohibited in the workplace. Keep in mind that no matter how little or how much any of the following examples may resemble your own situation, you have a unique case and you deserve to work with a law firm that will take a personalized approach to help you get what you deserve. The Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. has a history of successfully representing clients in employment discrimination cases not only in Miami but throughout the State of Florida, and we will work relentlessly to bring this experience to help you move forward with dignity and confidence.

Employment Discrimination Attorney Keith M. Stern

Contact us as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation, where you will be able to speak directly with an experienced legal professional about the nature of the discrimination that you have experienced, as well as obtain expert advice on how to best proceed in your situation. Unfortunately, many people who are forced to endure discrimination in the workplace develop anxiety, performance issues, emotional distress, fear, depression, and other conditions that can have serious impacts on your career and earning capabilities in addition to your emotional well being. The sooner you partner with a trustworthy attorney who will aggressively fight to protect your rights, the more readily you will be empowered to seek the justice that you deserve.

Take a look below at examples of some of the types of employment discrimination that commonly occur at jobs throughout Florida, and contact us now to get started today.

Victimized By Employment Discrimination In Florida?

Although Florida is an “employment-at-will” state, which means that your employer can fire you at any time without notice, numerous State and Federal laws have been enacted to protect you from your discrimination by your employer. But what is employment discrimination? And how does discrimination differ from a lawful termination? If you have been the victim of employment discrimination in Florida, how can you fight back? It all boils down to expert knowledge of employment law and enlisting the services of a skilled labor and employment attorney in Florida.

How is Employment Discrimination Defined?

In order to understand employment discrimination, it is first necessary to define what “discrimination” is. According to the American Psychological Association, discrimination is “the unfair or prejudicial treatment of people and groups based on characteristics such as race, gender, age or sexual orientation.” In terms of employment discrimination, a similar definition applies, except this discrimination occurs in the context of the workplace, which includes “biases in hiring, promotion, job assignment, termination, compensation, retaliation, and various types of harassment” as laid out by Cornell’s Wex

Discrimination can be directed at any of the following “protected classes”:

  • Race
  • Skin Color
  • Nationality or National Origin
  • Religion
  • Gender or Sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • Disability
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Citizenship Status
  • Genetic Information

Florida also includes the following as protected classes:

  • Marital Status
  • Sickle Cell Traits

If you have been discriminated against based upon any innate traits that you have, or any characteristics protected by a local, State, or Federal law, you may be a victim of employment discrimination that warrants appropriate remedial action being taken on your behalf by an experienced labor and employment attorney. 

The most permanent form of employment discrimination is an unlawful termination. If you’ve been fired for any reason motivated by illegal prejudice or bias, you may be a victim of employment discrimination. There are anti-discrimination and labor laws in place nationwide, along with protective classes and criteria specific to Florida state law.

Impacts of Discrimination

Discrimination can have serious, long-term impacts on an employee who is a victim of illegal treatment in the workplace. When someone knows that they have no choice but to go to a hostile workplace day after day, it can take a tremendous toll on an individual’s emotional health—by adding stress and anxiety to the already taxing daily grind of the long workday, as well as the risk and/or fear of possible threats and even violence. This stress can lead to things like high blood pressure, chronic anxiety, substance abuse, depression, and other serious, permanent conditions. You do not have to suffer this behavior alone and without recourse, nor do you deserve to endure the destructive side effects of someone else’s illegal action at work. 

In the next section, we will lay out different examples of employment discrimination.

Federal Anti-Employment Discrimination Laws

All of the States across the United States, including Florida, fall under the jurisdiction of the federal employment laws that are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

One of the first major anti-discrimination laws passed in the United States was the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA), which requires that both men and women must be paid equal wages for performing the same or similar work for an employer. The EPA provides: “No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions, except where such payment is made pursuant to (i) a seniority system; (ii) a merit system; (iii) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or (iv) a differential based on any other factor other than sex: Provided, That an employer who is paying a wage rate differential in violation of this subsection shall not, in order to comply with the provisions of this subsection, reduce the wage rate of any employee.”

Despite this, it has been reported that women still make only 78% of a man’s salary for performing the same job.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) is by far the most well-known and frequently cited anti-discrimination law in the United States. Under Title VII, employers are prohibited from discriminating against an employee because of their religion, race, color, sex, or national origin. The sincerely held religious beliefs of an employee must also be accommodated by an employer, provided that the religious belief does not unreasonably impede the employer’s business. 

Title VII provides: “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer –

“(1) to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to his compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin; or

“(2) to limit, segregate, or classify his employees or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

For instance, a Muslim employee who prays several times in a day cannot be fired or reprimanded because of his or her religious beliefs or practices.

An amendment to Title VII known as the “Pregnancy Discrimination Act” makes it illegal for an employer to penalize a woman due to pregnancy, childbirth, or any medical condition that was brought on by either. That means if a woman in Florida is fired because of her pregnancy, your employer has acted illegally and you can fight back.

Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA), makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees and qualified employment candidates because of a physical or mental disability, also known as a handicap. The ADA defines a disability as, “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual, a record of such an impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.”

Furthermore, employers have an obligation to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a disability, provided that the accommodation does not impose an undue burden on the employer. Make no mistake about it, you cannot be fired in Florida for having a disability or handicap.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects job applicants and employees who are 40 years of age and older from discrimination on the basis of age in hiring, promotion, compensation, and termination. This means that it is illegal under federal law to refuse to hire someone who is 40 or older, or to discharge an employee over 40 years of age because the employee is “too old.”

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 is one of the most recent anti-discrimination laws and ensures that employers cannot discriminate against employees or applicants due to genetic information, such as a disease. The law reads, “It shall be an unlawful employment practice for an employer–

“(1) to fail or refuse to hire, or to discharge, any employee, or otherwise to discriminate against any employee with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment of the employee, because of genetic information with respect to the employee; or

“(2) to limit, segregate, or classify the employees of the employer in any way that would deprive or tend to deprive any employee of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the status of the employee as an employee, because of genetic information with respect to the employee.”

Most federal anti-discrimination laws apply to businesses with 15 or more employees. Issues of age discrimination apply to businesses with 20 or more employees. Employers with four or more employees cannot discriminate based on citizenship status, and every employer is mandated to comply with the Equal Pay Act.

Anti-Discrimination Laws in Florida

Anti-Discrimination Laws In Florida

Florida has passed a number of anti-discrimination laws, giving employees an added layer of security on top of what the federal government already protects. In this regard, Florida law—like Federal law—protects employees against workplace discrimination because of an individual’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex/gender, age, and handicap. In addition, Florida has state law protections for AIDS/HIV, marital status, and sickle cell trait. 

One glaring omission, however, is sexual orientation. So, can you be fired for being gay in Florida? Technically, yes. Neither the federal government or the state of Florida provides a statutory protection for members of the LGBT community. However, 22 cities and 12 counties throughout Florida have passed ordinances expressly protecting workers based on sexual and/or gender orientation. Notably, Miami-Dade County affords employment protection for LGBT individuals, as a result of which, for example, you cannot be fired in Miami because of your sexual orientation.

Unfortunately, while many cities and counties throughout Florida have not yet passed ordinances to expressly protect LGBT employees, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Florida Commission on Human Relations do accept complaints based on gender identity and sexual orientation on the grounds that these instances violate state and federal laws against sex-based discrimination.

Examples of Employment Discrimination

Discrimination of varying types and forms is prohibited in the workplace by different laws. The following are just a few common examples of employment discrimination—but keep in mind that regardless of whether or not you see a specific example that resembles your own situation, you should contact us as soon as possible to learn about your individual rights. 

Discriminatory Job Advertisements

It is illegal for a prospective employer to list a job advertisement that specifically either requests or discourages someone from applying based on any of the protected classes. For example, a post that says “females preferable” or “younger workers preferred” will discourage men or people who may be older than 40 years of age from applying, which may constitute gender and age discrimination. 

Recruiting Discrimination

As with job advertising, recruiting for a job with specific requirements or preferences that fall under one of the protected classes is prohibited by State and Federal law. Because there are a lot of specific details to study to better understand these types of discrimination cases, it is important that you consult with an experienced labor and employment attorney as soon as possible to identify the key issues in your case..

Application and Hiring Discrimination

If there are specific requirements for a job, such as the ability to work on certain days, operate a vehicle, or anything else that a candidate must be able to do, a potential employer may not make assumptions based on an applicant’s membership in a protected class. In addition, if an employee is not hired because an individual is unable to perform a particular physical task or meet a certain requirement, it is essential that this requirement be necessary for the job, and not simply an arbitrary way to keep an applicant from being hired because of a protected characteristic. 

Job Assignment or Promotion Discrimination

If an employer must choose between candidates for a job assignment, or is looking to promote someone within the company to a new position, it is illegal for the employer to base its decision on any of the characteristics protected under the State and Federal civil rights laws. If you believe that you have been passed over for an opportunity or promotion as a result of discrimination because of a protected characteristic, contact us now so that we can examine your situation and work on learning about your case as soon as possible.

Pay and Benefits Discrimination

An employer may not pay one employee more than another, or give more benefits to one employee over another, on the basis of an individual’s gender/sex, age (if over 40), religion, race, color, national origin, disability or handicap, medical condition or any other characteristic of a protected class. 

Discipline Discrimination

An employer is not allowed to base its disciplinary policies on anything relating to a protected class, meaning, for example, that a Hispanic worker may not be given more or less punishment for an infraction than an Asian worker who is being disciplined for the same behavior or action because of the individual’s race.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Harassment is a serious problem, and when it is based on an individual’s membership in a protected class, harassment that is severe, pervasive, and creates a “hostile work environment” is illegal under both Federal and Florida law. However, it is important to keep in mind that merely occasional teasing, for example, is not illegal although it may be a violation of a company’s policy. Unlawful harassment can occur from repeated and egregious conduct that includes threats of violence, slurs, sexual advances, and attempts at unwanted physical contact. Illegal harassment in the workplace often involves insidious behavior that needs to be promptly addressed with the help of an experienced labor and employment attorney. 

If you have been subjected to unwanted harassment, it is vital that you document your situation in a complaint to your company’s Human Resources department and/or through your employer’s internal complaint policy. If the harassment continues or worsens, or if your HR department refuses to do anything about ongoing harassment, contact our law firm as soon as possible to learn about how an attorney can help you protect and vindicate your rights. 

There are many forms of employment discrimination that an employee can be forced to endure, which can be extremely destructive and harmful. As a result, it is important that anything you believe may constitute employment discrimination be addressed as soon as possible. If you are a current employee and you have already tried to obtain help from your employer, or if your boss is the culprit, speaking with an employment attorney may be necessary to protect yourself. We are available to try and help you in any way we can.

How Can You Fight Against Employment Discrimination in Florida?

If you are a Florida employee who has been the victim of employment discrimination, you have a right to fight back. Please schedule a free consultation with Keith M. Stern at the Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. and we will fight vigorously to get you the justice you deserve.

Similarly, if you have attempted to apply for a job and you feel that your application was disregarded or that you were overlooked in favor of another candidate because of characteristics that are protected by Federal or State law, then you deserve to have your case examined by an expert in labor and employment law. You do not deserve, nor are you required to endure, employment discrimination without speaking to an experienced employment attorney about how to fight for your right to fair treatment in the workplace. 

Regrettably, there are many instances in which the management personnel who are in charge of receiving and handling internal employee complaints about a company are the very people engaging in employment discrimination in the first place. If this is the case, you should contact a Miami employment discrimination attorney. At the Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A., we will start from the moment we begin our initial consultation to study your specific situation. Moreover, we will work to understand the nature and scope of the discrimination you have endured while we formulate an action plan with you to address and seek compensation for your suffering. 

The experienced Miami employment law attorneys at the Law Office of Keith M. Stern P.A. represent employees in both State and Federal Courts as well as before government agencies and in administrative proceedings, so if you believe that you’ve been a victim of employment discrimination, the first step may be to work with one of our attorneys to file a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

We’re available and ready to help fight for your rights, so contact us today for a free consultation.

Penalties For Employment Discrimination in Miami

There are both monetary and non-economic penalties that a company may face if they engage in unlawful employment discrimination. Most commonly, an employee who is a victim of discrimination in the termination of their employment, for example, can seek the recovery of lost wages and potential compensatory or punitive damages along with the employee’s attorneys’ fees to be paid by the employer. 

An example from 2002 involves a class-action employment discrimination case stemming from 8 employees of Mckesson for race discrimination. The plaintiffs in that lawsuit claimed that Mckesson assigned African-American employees to less-lucrative routes as their white coworkers, which resulted in lower pay and fewer pay increases. This behavior had been going on for many years before the employees finally decided to pursue legal action for this employment discrimination, as part of which the employees alleged here was a bias against the non-white workers and the routes that they were assigned to.

This is only one example, but there are many different work environments in which employees are subjected to unlawful discrimination, either systemic or overt, that seriously impacts their ability to perform their jobs and maintain a positive outlook on their lives. Even though there are many laws in place that are intended to protect people from experiencing employment discrimination or harassment, individuals (and sometimes entire organizations) still take part in this reprehensible behavior, to the detriment of all who must deal with it. As a result, employment attorneys like Keith M. Stern can help fight for the rights of employees to fair treatment in the workplace.

Frequently Asked Questions about Employment Discrimination in Miami

The following are some of the questions that we often receive during our initial consultations with prospective clients, and questions that we will work diligently to answer over the course of the first few days and weeks of our attorney-client relationship. Keep in mind that your answers to the following questions may vary greatly depending on your specific situation, so these are only intended to provide you with a reference, and not a concrete answer.

How do I know if I am a victim of employment discrimination?

If you are a member of a protected class (or multiple classes) and you have experienced disparate, or different treatment in situations such as being passed over for a promotion, realizing that your (non-protected class) coworkers are being given more opportunities than you, you have been subjected to discipline that is inconsistent with how your employer has disciplined or other employees, or if you receive comments or criticisms about your membership in a protected class, then you may be the victim of employment discrimination. 

Sometimes employment discrimination is harder to prove than other situations, but we will work together to ensure that we can build a comprehensive and clear understanding of what suits the needs of your case as a marginalized employee whose rights were violated despite the express protections of State and/or Federal law.

Should I be worried about retaliation after taking legal action for employment discrimination?

There are laws and protections at both the state and federal levels that are specifically meant to shield an employee from unlawful retaliation by their employer, coworkers, or superiors after submitting an informal or formal complaint about alleged discrimination. If you are subjected to any sort of retaliation, you may have a separate and independent cause of action for retaliation which we will work to preserve to protect your best interests.

How can I prove that I am the victim of employment discrimination?

Depending on the type of employment discrimination you may have been the victim of, we will work to develop a strategy and gather evidence about your situation that will provide an individualized understanding of your rights in the legal process. In order to determine the best way to discreetly safeguard your rights, contact our firm as soon as possible.

Contact Our Miami Employment Discrimination Lawyers Today

Miami Employment Discrimination Lawyers

The Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. has a wealth of experience in labor and employment law cases, civil rights actions, and discrimination claims. We are well versed in providing counseling and litigating in State and Federal Courts cases arising under:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
  • Older Worker Benefit Protection Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act and construction requirements connected to it
  • The Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • The Equal Pay Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Florida Civil Rights Act
  • The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act
  • National Labor Relations Act
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • The Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification Act
  • Civil Rights violations of 42 U.S.C. §1981
  • Florida Whistleblower Act
  • Workers’ Compensation Retaliation
  • Retaliation for complaints about claims for unpaid Minimum and Overtime Wages

We have a history of success in defending clients who have been discriminated against based on a disability or handicap, gender, health, AIDS and HIV-related issues, immigration issues, military service, national origin, race, religion, pregnancy, gender, sexual harassment, martial status, and sexual orientation. Our skilled employment attorneys protect our clients from unlawful terminations, constructive discharge, issues related to employee performance appraisals, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

We also work to ensure that businesses comply with affirmative action laws, uphold the civil rights of their employees, state and federal requirements for drug and alcohol testing, employee privacy protection, permissible hiring and interviewing pratices, sexual harassment laws, and laws pertaining to workers compensation retaliation.

If you are uncertain about whether your situation qualifies as employment discrimination, the best way to figure out the appropriate course of action is to speak with a labor and employment attorney with experience throughout Florida. We understand that it can be very overwhelming to think about pursuing this type of case on your own, which is why we think that it is so important to give you the personalized service, attention, and support that you need to help vindicate your rights. 

The sooner that we are able to begin working to analyze your case, the more time we will have to investigate all angles of recourse and build a comprehensive and aggressive course of action to get you the justice that you deserve. Florida laws, as well as a variety of Federal laws, are there to protect your rights, and we will help you fight to ensure that these rights are respected and upheld.

Call the Law Office of Keith M. Stern P.A. today for a free consultation.

If you feel you've been subjected to discrimination or need representation from an experienced labor & employment attorney in Miami to guide you through a workplace dispute, contact the Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. today. Protecting your rights and fighting injustice is what we do, because Your Work Is Our Business.