Understanding Workplace Harassment and Your Legal Rights

If you arrive at work each day with a sense of fear, dread, and anger over continuous harassment by co-workers and/or superiors, you may be able to pursue a civil remedy against your employer.

If does not matter if the harassment is overt or subtle. Neither should be allowed in any workplace.

Anti-Discrimination Laws Protect Workers at the State and Federal Level

If you or a loved one is the victim of harassment, there are both state and federal anti-discrimination laws that may have been violated. Under Florida law, employers cannot discriminate against employees based upon:

  • Age;
  • AIDS diagnosis;
  • Color;
  • Disability;
  • Marital status;
  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Sex; or
  • Sickle cell diagnosis.

In addition to state laws, there are multiple federal laws that prohibit different types of discrimination. For example, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is empowered to enforce the following laws:

  • Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990: Title I states that it is against the law to discriminate against individuals with a qualified disability. This federal law applies to private sector employers and state and local government employers. Furthermore, reasonable accommodations must be provided for physical or mental limitations of job applicants and employees. The only exception is if an accommodation would pose an undue burden on a business.
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against an employee based on the employee’s race, religion, sex, or national origin. Title VII also required employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs. Once again, the only exception is if an accommodation would pose an undue burden on the employer.
  • Equal Pay Act of 1963: Signed into law by President John F. Kennedy, the Equal Pay Act of 1963 requires men and women be paid equal wages if they perform the same type of work for a similarly situated employer.
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act: This law is actually an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law prohibits discrimination against a female employee who becomes pregnant, gives birth to a child, or develops a medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth. An example of a prohibited action by an employer is if they are interviewing an applicant, discover they are pregnant, and decide not to hire the applicant because of the pregnancy.

Financial Restitution and Other Remedies That Can Be Pursued Against the Employer

If there is evidence that your employer, or potential employer, discriminates against you or a loved one, you may be able to pursue certain civil remedies including:

  • Attorney’s fees;
  • Back pay – this can be pursued if you were discriminated against concerning a promotion;
  • Compensatory damages to cover expenses accrued as a proximate result of the discrimination – these damages can be pursued if you spent money searching for another job;
  • Compensatory damages for emotional harm, mental anguish and suffering; and
  • Placement in the job you applied for – this remedy can be pursued if you were discriminated against as a job applicant (see the pregnancy example above).

Time to Take Action – Contact a Fort Lauderdale Employment and Labor Law Attorney

The Fort Lauderdale law firm of Mark J. Berkowitz is ready to fight for you and your loved ones if you are being victimized at work. We are prepared and ready to litigate discrimination claims in court. Contact our Fort Lauderdale discrimination attorneys right away if you feel you have suffered workplace discrimination.