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Employment Law Blog
James Tarquin, P.A
As part of our commitment to assist and educate employees in fighting back against the abusive employment practices of employers, we offer a broad range of information about employment law issues in our employment blog.

Are Workers Protected From Retaliation When A Lawyer Complains About Discrimination On Their Behalf?

Portland, OR, USA - Nov 20, 2021: Closeup of the Retaliation Complaint form issued by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

For more than twenty years, our employment lawyers in Marion County, Florida have fought for the rights of retaliation victims. Through their years of experience handling retaliation claims, our employment attorneys in Ocala, Florida know that a common employment law myth is that employees must personally complain about workplace discrimination in order to secure legal protection against retaliation. Under this employment law myth, employees who use a third-party to complain on their behalf about workplace discrimination are not protected from retaliation and can be lawfully fired because of the third-party complaint. In this article, our employment lawyers in Citrus County, Florida explain how the decision in Goldberg v. Bespoke Real Estate, LLC,2024 WL 1256006 (S.D. N.Y. March. 25, 2024) shows that employees are protected from retaliation when they have a lawyer send a letter to an employer on their behalf complaining about workplace discrimination.

Retaliation Lawsuit

In that case, a man named Goldberg brought a retaliation lawsuit against his former employer, Bespoke Real Estate, LLC (“Bespoke”), pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (“Title VII”). Title VII protects employees from discrimination on the basis of color, race, national origin, sex, and religion. In order to protect employees from workplace discrimination, Title VII also contains an anti-retaliation provision. Under Title VII’s anti-retaliation provision, employees are protected from retaliation when they complain about perceived discrimination on the basis of color, race, national origin, sex, or religion in the workplace. Goldberg, who is Jewish, claims that Bespoke violated Title VII by firing him retaliation for complaining about perceived race discrimination towards another employee in the workplace.

Goldberg worked for Bespoke, a real estate brokerage firm that represents buyers and sellers in residential real estate transactions, at its Miami Beach Office. Goldberg was supervised by both the president and the CEO of Bespoke.

Goldberg claims that the Bespoke work environment was anti-Semitic. Goldberg alleges that the president and the CEO both frequently used the denigrating term “kike” in reference to Jewish people, and that the CEO used various words to denigrate Jewish people, including “kikey” and “cheap Jew.” During a disagreement about whether Bespoke would pay him certain commissions, according to Goldberg, the CEO called Goldberg “a Jewish American princess.” Goldberg further alleges that another employee would begin conference calls by asking Goldberg, “How is your Jewish penis?” Goldberg maintains that both the president and the CEO were present on these calls, and the employee was not disciplined.

Goldberg contends that a Bespoke employee named Willis, who worked as a real estate salesperson, was discriminated against because of his race. Goldberg alleges that a Bespoke secretary addressed Willis with racial epithets. Goldberg further contends that the president and the CEO both engaged in racist behavior towards Willis, including addressing Willis with racial epithets. Goldberg also contends that Willis suffered race discrimination in his job-related duties. For example, Goldberg alleges that while Bespoke typically allowed employees to show properties to prospective buyers alone with no other employees present, Willis was never permitted to show a property by himself. Other employees who are not African-American, according to Goldberg, were permitted to do so, and Willis was never given a reason for that differential treatment.

In August 2022, Goldberg informed his lawyer that Bespoke had unlawfully discriminated against Wills on the basis of race, and Goldberg’s lawyer advised Bespoke that it had learned of the discrimination against Willis from Goldberg. In September 2022, the CEO terminated Goldberg’s employment.

Protection From Retaliation

Bespoke filed a motion with the trial court seeking dismissal of Goldberg’s retaliation claim. In moving for dismissal, Bespoke argued that Goldberg was not protected from retaliation under Title VII because he did not personally complain about the perceived racial discrimination against Willis in the workplace. Thus, according to Bespoke, Goldberg could not use a lawyer to convey his complaint about perceived racial discrimination against Willis. In denying Bespoke’s motion for dismissal, the trial court determined that “having one’s lawyer sent [an employer] a letter alleging discrimination” qualifies for protection from retaliation under Title VII, “even if the [employee] does not personally inform [the employer] about the unlawful nature of [its] conduct.” In applying this principle, the trial court observed that Goldberg alleges that in “August 2022, [he] told his counsel that [Bespoke] had unlawfully discrimination against Willis on the basis of his race, and that Goldberg’s counsel in turned informed [Bespoke] . . . about that accusation.” “That conduct,” the trial court explained, “represents actions taken by [Goldberg] in opposition to practices by [Bespoke] that [he] understood to constitute unlawful discrimination.” Thus, the trial court concluded that Goldberg’s allegations were sufficient to establish that he was protected from retaliation under Title VII.

Marion County, FL Employment Lawyers

Based in Ocala, Florida and representing workers throughout Florida, our employment attorneys in Marion County, Florida have dedicated their practice to fighting for the rights of employees. If you have been retaliated against for complaining about workplace discrimination or have questions about your rights as a retaliation victim, please contact our office for a free consultation with our employment lawyers in Marion County, Florida. Our employee rights law firm takes employment cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no attorney’s fees incurred unless there is a recovery and our attorney’s fees come solely from the monetary award that you recover.

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