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Can I sue for job discrimination in Florida?

Under both federal law and Florida law, employers may not discriminate against employees in the terms and conditions of employment based upon sex (or gender), race, national origin, religion, age, disability or genetic condition. Additionally, under Florida law, an employer may not discriminate based upon marital status and, in certain cities and counties in Florida, an employer may not discriminate based upon sexual orientation. It is also a violation of state and federal law to retaliate against an employee who complains of discrimination in the workplace or files a Charge of Discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or any local Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA). Finally, it is a violation of state and federal law for an employer to retaliate against an employee who has participated in an investigation of another employee’s discrimination claim or has provided testimony related to another employee’s discrimination claim.

When an employee believes he or she is being discriminated against in the workplace, the employee may wish to consider first complaining internally, usually to a Human Resources officer, so that the company can investigate the allegations and take appropriate remedial action. If, however, circumstances are such that an internal complaint is not feasible or appropriate, the employee should consider filing a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC, the FCHR, or local county or city FEPA. Usually, these agencies have work-sharing relationships with each other such that a charge filed in one agency is dually filed in the state or federal agency as well. Therefore, the employee generally does not need to file with more than one agency.

It is important to keep in mind that, in Florida, a Charge of Discrimination must be filed with the EEOC within 300 days of the act of discrimination complained of. If the charge is filed with the FCHR under Florida law only, the employee may file within 365 days of the act of discrimination complained of. Although a Charge of Discrimination may be filed without an attorney, an employee should consider consulting with an attorney prior to filing a charge. An experienced employment attorney will ensure that the charge’s allegations are correct and that the charge is timely filed with the correct agency.

Under federal law, the employee must file suit within 90 days of the EEOC issuing a Notice of Right to Sue. Under Florida law, the employee may bring a state law claim within four years after the act of discrimination has occurred, but must either obtain a Reasonable Cause finding from the FCHR or allow 180 days to pass without a finding from the FCHR. If the FCHR enters a No Cause finding within 180 days, the employee can appeal that decision, but may not file a civil action for discrimination under Florida law.

For further information regarding job discrimination claims, as well as other employment law matters, please fill out our contact form.