State and federal laws, including Florida's Whistleblower Protection Act and the federal False Claims Act, offer protections to employees who blow the whistle on supervisors and managers who willingly engage in illegal or unethical activity. However, to be afforded full protection under the law, an employee must go through the proper channels when reporting a violation.
In addition to preparing for final exams and wrapping up the baseball, softball and track season, many Florida teens are also out looking for a job to help make ends meet and, of course, save for college at this time of the year.
One of the more unfortunate misperceptions concerning workplace discrimination is that it's largely confined to the private sector, such that this type of conduct seldom -- if ever -- occurs within the rolls of the state or federal government.
Northern California's tech industry has been under a microscope recently but not for the reasons you might expect. Indeed, much of the nation has been mesmerized by the high-profile lawsuit filed against a prominent Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm by a former partner alleging that she was victimized by gender discrimination.
A man who was formerly employed by Harley-Davidson says that he was wrongfully terminated from his position at the company. The man says that he was not only the victim of sexual harassment perpetrated by his co-workers, but he believes he was later fired because he reported the harassment. In his claims, he says that he was the victim of retaliation for reporting sexual harassment to his superiors.
An ex-utility company employee has been awarded compensatory and punitive damages in a wrongful termination case. Among the causes of action in his case, the man cited retaliation. He says that he was terminated from his job after he complained that his employer was unfairly targeting underprivileged people with unnecessary fees. This case occurred in another state. However, state and federal courts in Florida see a large number of wrongful termination cases every year.
Three years after he was fired from his job, a former hotel office manager has been awarded over $500,000 in damages in a discrimination lawsuit. The man claimed in his suit that he was the victim of wrongful termination and discrimination because he was HIV-positive. Although one does not hear of it in the news very frequently, discrimination relating to HIV is still common in Florida and other states. This man's case, however, has a positive ending, as he succeeded in obtaining justice under the law.
This week, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released statistics about the employment discrimination complaints that it received during fiscal year 2012, giving us a picture here in Florida of the rights violations that workers are up against. The fiscal year lasts from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30.
Workers in Florida who report the illegal conduct or fraud of their employers are generally protected from being fired for doing so under federal or state employment laws. Such workers are called whistle-blowers, and whistle-blowers tend to be protected from experiencing retaliation for blowing the whistle. This does still happen, but when workers are fired for blowing a whistle they may seek job reinstatement and financial compensation.
Last week in this employment law blog, we discussed the risks of blowing the whistle on an employer's wrongdoing in Florida. This week, we have a real-life example.