Is there a difference between unfair treatment and unlawful conduct at a workplace? How to recognize these situations, and what to do about them? Keep reading to find the answers to these questions.
Unfair Treatment at Workplace
Unfortunately, there is no law against employee unfair treatment. Like most of the US states, Florida is also an „at will” employment state. This practically means that your employer can dismiss you from work at any time for any reason, or no reason at all. It also means that the employer can take action against you at any time, to demote, transfer, and “harass” you in the generic sense.
So, when does the unfair treatment become unlawful conduct?
Unlawful Conduct at Workplace
In the simplest terms, unlawful conduct is an unfair treatment based on personal traits of the employee (or a job applicant) that are protected by anti-discriminatory laws.
Some of these traits are:
- sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation
- national origin
Retaliation against whistleblowers and employees that have reported discriminatory misconduct by the employer is also considered discrimination and is strictly prohibited.
Federal laws prohibiting discrimination and unlawful conduct in the workplace are:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII)
- The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
- The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA)
- Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)
- The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
Identifying and Proving Unlawful Conduct in the Workplace
With previous facts in mind, it may seem difficult to know when an unfair treatment crossed the line of legality and turned to unlawful behavior. It is important that, if you suspect that you are being treated unlawfully, answer these questions:
- why are you being treated unfairly?
- who’s is conducting unfair treatment?
- what’s the unfair treatment?
- why is the treatment unfair, and what type of discrimination is it?
It is also very important that you document all the cases of what you suspect unlawful treatment is. Taking detailed notes about the situations, with all the relevant information, and details about possible witnesses are vital to proving discrimination occurred.
Fear of retaliation is often cited as the reason employees do not report unlawful conduct. If you are being retaliated or discriminated against shortly after reporting the problem, it is likely that you have a strong retaliation and wrongful termination case.
Taking legal action
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has the mandate to process charges and complaints of discrimination and unlawful conduct in the workplace. The EEOC will investigate any claims of unlawful conduct and try to mediate the situation.
Navigating these complex issues can be difficult and challenging. Every situation and person’s experience is unique and demand an experienced lawyer to assess the case. If you believe that you are being unlawfully treated, it is well advised to promptly consult an employment lawyer in your area. Have in mind that these claims expire after a certain period of time.