The Sunshine State of Florida is home to over 18.3 million people, according to a 2008 census estimate. Florida’s climate, ecology, and demographic constitution make it one of the most unique states in the union as far as business law is concerned. Florida’s population is incredibly diverse. The northern “Panhandle” demographically aligns with the southern states of Georgia and Alabama. The city of Miami, in bright contrast, is home to flourishing Hispanic communities and a sizable Cuban American population. Boca Raton, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale are home to a large number of retirees. Fort Lauderdale supports a thriving gay community.
Florida’s economy runs on many cylinders. Tourism is a major driver – Walt Disney World, America’s most famous amusement complex, is the dominant economic force in Orlando. Florida also has a thriving maritime industry and supports agriculture and farming – in particular, Florida’s citrus industry is enormously powerful.
The state’s employment antidiscrimination body is the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, which operates under the auspices of the State’s Office for Civil Rights. This agency is responsible for developing workforce policy, guiding initiatives, investigating abuses of the law and discrimination complaints, overseeing unemployment compensation, and ensuring equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in the workplace. Florida’s workforce boards - which are designed to help develop and carry out equal opportunity policies – operate out of 90 discrete locations across the state.
Over the past decade, Florida has served as a lightning rod for legal battles that have captured the attention of the nation, such as Gore v. Bush (2000) as well as legal battles over terminally ill patient Terry Schiavo and Cuban émigré, Elian Gonzalez. In recent years, questions have been raised about unfair treatment endured by migrant workers in some of Florida’s citrus groves.
Thousands of cases play out every day all over the state. Many of these fall under the category of workplace discrimination and harassment. According to federal law, businesses with fifteen or more employees are subjected to federal anti-discrimination laws which prohibit wrongful treatment based on age, religious affiliation, disability, race, nationality, gender, and more. Additionally, the Florida Commission on Human relations (FCHR) is responsible for investigating and resolving these complaints in accordance with state law.
Specific examples of discrimination include prejudicial hiring practices, wrongful termination, demotion, failure to promote a qualified employee, denial of benefits or pay, unequal pay, and other negative actions. Retaliation is another frequently reported injustice and involves an employer taking action against an employee for asserting his or her rights in the workplace. The most common form of retaliation is firing an employee for reporting an incident of discrimination, but it can include any form of discrimination.
If you or a family member has a discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or wage and hour violation complaint, don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance. You are protected by a number of state and federal laws and deserve the right to work in an environment free of these practices. For assistance finding a local lawyer, please click here.