Florida is considered what a Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment lawyer deems an “at-will” employment state. This means that there are few limitations on how an employer can treat an employee. Most often, this is relevant in terminating an employee but also can be an issue if the employee is treated unfairly or harassed. The general rule is that an at-will employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all and the employee has no recourse. Similarly, if the employee is subjected to a general harassment, there is nothing they can do. If, however, the reason for the harassment is the employee’s status as a member of a protected class, that harassment may be unlawful.
Discrimination Based on Sex
Both federal law and Florida law prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on race, national origin, religion, disability and sex. Court cases interpreting these laws have held that sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Importantly, a Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment lawyer emphasizes that a claim of sexual harassment may be filed by a member of either sex, and sexual harassment may occur between two individuals of the same sex.
Tangible Employment Consequences
One form of sexual harassment involves what a Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment lawyer explains as tangible employment consequences; that is, if an employee is offered a benefit or threatened with a negative consequence based on some kind of sexual advance that is considered quid pro quo sexual harassment. Examples include hiring decisions, raises, work assignments, promotions and benefits, and harassment can come from managers, supervisors, co-workers, vendors or customers.
Employers should have a written sexual harassment policy in place that is made known to each of the employees. If an employee believes they have been the victim of quid pro quo harassment, it is important to immediately report the incident to the employer. A Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment lawyer advises that this not only allows the employer to investigate the incident and possibly correct the situation, but also documents the case.
If the employee feels the internal procedures of the employer are ineffective, they may choose to bring a legal action. However, not every employer is covered under federal or state law; the employer must have at least 15 employees. Additionally, in most cases, the suit must be filed within 180 days of the incident. The copy of the complaint to the employer along with any letters emails or other communications in support are often critical in harassment cases.
It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate in any way against an employee who has in good faith brought a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Contact a Fort Lauderdale Sexual Harassment Attorney for Legal Advice
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you may be able to recover for lost wages, mental anguish or pain and suffering depending on the facts of your case. Call Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., a Fort Lauderdale sexual harassment attorney, at (954) 527-0570.