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James P. Tarquin, P.A Call for a FREE Consultation!352-401-7671
An Employee
Rights Law Firm

OCALA BASED EMPLOYMENT DISCRIMINATION LAWYERS SEVING CENTRAL FLORIDA

Having been in the trenches of employment law litigation for more than 15 years, we understand how difficult and intimidating it can be for employees victimized by discrimination to fight back against employers. Employment discrimination laws give employees the right to take legal action to fight workplace discrimination they have endured. Our Central Florida employment discrimination lawyers will carry the fight on your behalf, serving as your voice and advocate in holding your employer accountable for the financial and emotional impact of workplace discrimination.

Laws Governing Employment Discrimination

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which is federal law, protects employees and job applicants against discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, and religion. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA), which is federal law, protects employees and job applicants from discrimination on the basis of pregnancy. The Age Discrimination In Employment Act (ADEA), which is also federal law, protects employees and job applicants against discrimination on the basis of age. The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), which is another federal law, protects employees and job applicants against discrimination on the basis of disability. The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA), which is Florida law, protects employees and job applicants against discrimination with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, handicap, and marital status. Because the FCRA was patterned after federal employment discrimination laws, discrimination claims under the FCRA are evaluated using the same framework as that used in Title VII, ADEA, and ADA cases.

Protection Applies To All Employment Decisions

Under federal and Florida law, employees are protected against discrimination with respect to the entire spectrum of the compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment. This means that the prohibition against discrimination in the workplace applies to all employment decisions. The types of employment decisions in which discrimination is forbidden include:

  • * Hiring
  • * Promotion
  • * Demotion
  • * Compensation
  • * Hours of Work
  • * Work Schedules
  • * Work Assignments
  • * Transfer
  • * Job Training
  • * Discipline
  • * Layoff & Termination

What Is An Individual’s Protected Class

As part of proving an employment discrimination case, the individual claiming discrimination must show that he or she is a member of a protected class. The protected class of the individual claiming discrimination depends on the type of discrimination alleged.

  • * If the individual is claiming race discrimination, then the individual’s protected class is his or her racial group.
  • * If the individual is claiming national origin discrimination on the basis of where he or she was born, then the individual’s protected class is the country where he or she was born. If the individual is claiming national origin discrimination on the basis of the country from where his or her ancestors came, then the individual’s protected classis the country from where his or her ancestors came.
  • * If the individual is claiming sex discrimination, the individual’s protected class is his or her gender.
  • * If the individual is claiming pregnancy discrimination, the individual’s protected class is pregnancy.
  • * If the individual is claiming religious discrimination, his or her protected class is individuals who are members of the same religion.
  • * If the individual is claiming age discrimination, his or her protected class is being 40 years of age or older.
  • * If the individual is claiming disability discrimination, his or her protected class is having a disability.

Comparative Information Concerning How Others Have Been Treated

In employment discrimination cases, courts frequently compare how the employer treated the employee claiming discrimination with how the employer treated other employees who are not members of his or her protected class. Comparing the employer’s treatment of the employee claiming discrimination with the employer’s treatment of other employees forms the basis of a disparate treatment discrimination analysis. Disparate treatment discrimination occurs when the employer treats an employee differently or less favorably than other employees because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability. Stated another way in language often used by courts, this means that the employer treats employees who are outside of the protected class differently or more favorably than the employee claiming discrimination. An employee claiming discrimination uses comparative information concerning how others have been treated in order to attack the employer’s proffered reason for taking the challenged employment decision and establish the employer’s discriminatory intent.

Which Employees Are Outside Of The Protected Class

Because comparative information concerning an employer’s treatment of other employees is often used as a basis for proving employment discrimination cases, it is important to identify the employees who are not members of the protected class. In other words, which employees are outside of the protected class of the employee claiming discrimination?

  • * If the individual is claiming race discrimination, then employees who are not members of the aggrieved individual’s racial group are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming national origin discrimination on the basis of where or she was born, employees who were not born in the same country as the aggrieved individual are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class. If the individual is claiming national origin discrimination on the basis of the country from where his or her ancestors, then employees whose ancestors came from a different country are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming sex discrimination, then employees who are not members of the aggrieved individual’s gender are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming pregnancy discrimination, then employees who are not pregnant are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming religious discrimination, then employees who are not members of the aggrieved individual’s religion are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming age discrimination, then employees who are 40 years of age are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.
  • * If the individual is claiming disability discrimination, then employees who are not disabled are not members of the protected class and outside of the protected class.

Blatant Discriminatory Remarks Not Required To Prove Discrimination

Employees who have been discriminated against at work often believe they do not have legal grounds for filing an employment discrimination lawsuit because the employer did not tell them that the employment decision at issue, such as reduction in hours, demotion, or termination, was taken because of their race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability. However, it is not necessary that an employer tell the employee that the employment decision at issue was taken because of his or her protected status in order to have legal grounds for filing an employment discrimination lawsuit. It is extremely rare that an employer will expressly admit that an employment decision was taken because of the employee’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability. In other words, the employer will almost never say to an employee: we are firing you because you are African-American, Hispanic, a woman, pregnant, too old, or disabled. Such “smoking gun” evidence rarely exists in employment discrimination cases and is not required in order prevail in an employment discrimination lawsuit. Instead, employment discrimination cases are almost always proven by circumstantial evidence.

Most Common Type Of Employment Discrimination

Discrimination in the workplace most frequently occurs when an employer treats an employee differently or less favorably than other employees because of his or her race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability. In the discrimination context, this means that the employer treats the employee claiming discrimination differently or less favorably from other employees who are outside of the protected class. Showing that the employer treated the employee claiming discrimination differently or less favorably from other employees who are outside of the protected class is a form of circumstantial evidence used to prove employment discrimination claims. For example, the employer terminates a Hispanic employee because of a customer complaint, but the employer does not terminate non-Hispanic employees who were the subject of the same or similar customer complaint. Similarly, the employer terminates a female employee because of alleged poor work performance, but the employer does not terminate male employees who have the same or even worse performance problems. Likewise, the employer terminates an employee over 40 years of age because of a purported violation of a work rule, but the employer does not terminate substantially younger employees who violate the same or similar work rule. As these examples are intended to illustrate the most common type of discrimination in the workplace, whether legal grounds exist for filing an employment discrimination case would depend on other facts and circumstances in each particular case.

Circumstantial Evidence Used To Prove Discrimination

Because an employer will rarely admit to a discriminatory motive or leave a paper trial illuminating a discriminatory motive when subjecting an employee to an adverse employment action, employment discrimination cases almost always must be proven by circumstantial evidence. The types of circumstantial evidence establishing that an individual has suffered discrimination may take a variety of forms. There is no single or mechanical method for showing that an individual was the victim of prohibited discrimination. Depending on the nature of employment decision being challenged, the types of circumstantial evidence that can be used to prove that an individual’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability may have played a role in the challenged employment decision include:

  • * Evidence that the employer enforced a company work rule or policy against the employee claiming discrimination when making the challenged employment decision, but the employer did not enforce the company work rule or policy against other employees outside of the protected class under the same or similar circumstances.
  • * Evidence that the challenged employment decision is inconsistent with a company policy or the employee handbook. In other words, the employer acted contrary to a company policy or the employee handbook when making the challenged employment decision.
  • * Evidence that the employer offered different justifications at different times for the challenged employment decision.
  • * Evidence that it was not the employer’s policy or practice to respond to such problems in the way it responded towards the employee claiming discrimination in making the challenged employment decision.
  • * Evidence that the employer scrutinized the work performance of the employee claiming discrimination in order to justify or find a reason for the challenged employment decision.
  • * Evidence that in making the challenged employment decision, the employer subjected the employee claiming discrimination to performance expectations or requirements not applied against other employees outside of the protected class.
  • * Evidence that the reason given by the employer for the challenged employment decision is false or not true.
  • * Evidence that the employer treated the employee claiming discrimination differently or less favorably than other employees outside the protected class with respect to compensation, discipline, work assignments, training, promotion, performance evaluations, work-related assistance, and overtime.
  • * Evidence that the employer gave other employees outside of the protected class preferential treatment in compensation, discipline, work assignments, training, promotion, performance evaluations, work-related assistance, and overtime.
  • * Derogatory remarks, slurs, insults, or jokes by supervisors or managers about the aggrieved individual’s race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability.
  • * Evidence of prior acts of discrimination by the employer against other employees who are members of the protected class.

This list is not exclusive and there are no hard and fast rules as to what type of evidence is needed in order to prove an employment discrimination claim. As these examples are intended to illustrate the types of circumstantial evidence used to prove discrimination, whether legal grounds exist for filing an employment discrimination case would depend on other facts and circumstances in each particular case. However, if any of these things have happened to you in the workplace, you may have suffered discrimination in the workplace.

Protection Against Retaliation

As discussed more fully in our section pertaining to retaliation, employees are protected against retaliation when they complain about discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age, or disability in the workplace. Federal and Florida law prohibit employers from subjecting employees to an adverse employment action, such as reduction in pay or hours, demotion, denial of promotion, suspension, and termination, in retaliation for having complained about such discrimination in the workplace.

Contact Us Today For A Free Initial Consultation

If you are experiencing or have experienced discrimination at work, please contact us for a free initial consultation with our Central Florida employment discrimination attorneys. You will receive personalized and individual attention from our employment law attorneys. We have extensive experience litigating almost every type of employment discrimination case in state and federal court. Our employee rights law firm takes employment discrimination cases on a contingency fee basis and if we fail to recover on your behalf, we do not get paid. Based in Ocala, Florida and representing employees throughout Central Florida, we are ready to take your employment discrimination case and fight for your employee rights.

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