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Proving Harassment or Discrimination In A Florida Workplace

Florida attorney L. Reed Bloodworth is the managing partner of Bloodworth Law with offices in Orlando and Winter Haven, Florida.

Bloodworth Law handles employment litigation for Florida employers facing federal and state legal disputes with employees on a range of issues.

Proving Harassment or Discrimination In A Florida Workplace

Bloodworth Law partner and employment litigation attorney J. Kemp Brinson shares his insights on a common concern for Florida employers when it comes to proving harassment or discrimination in a Florida workplace.

Never EVER Secretly Record Conversations

Kemp said he strongly discourages anyone from EVER recording people in any situation on a hidden camera or audio device. It is a crime in Florida.

“You don’t want to record someone secretly,” said Kemp who is a 2019 to 2022 Super Lawyer for his work in Employment Law. “That’s not a good idea; it never, never is.

It’s A Crime To Secretly Record People

Attorney Brinson explains that “Florida statutes make it a crime to secretly record someone under circumstances where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Don’t Risk Litigation

“Whether a conversation at work is under the circumstances creating a reasonable expectation of privacy or not, it is something that could be litigated, and it is not usually a risk you want to take.

Rarely Is One Comment Enough

“And in regard to harassment or discrimination in the workplace,” Kemp said, “one comment isn’t going to be actionable.

“But I can think of a few aspects that might be actionable alone and here are three examples:

Overt Demands

First, “if a person’s supervisor were to overtly demand sex as a condition of keeping one’s job, that statement alone might be considered actionable,” Kemp said.

Threats Of Firing For Not Conforming

Second, “I could also imagine a situation in which a threat of firing is communicated if an employee does not conform to particular gender, racial, or other protected “norms,” would be actionable.

Threat Or Quid Pro Quo

Third, “a demand would probably have to be some sort of threat or ‘quid pro quo’ (which is a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something) to be actionable,” Kemp said.

Severe & Frequent = Hostile Work Environment

“Generally, creation of a hostile work environment is going to require comments that are both severe and frequent,” Kemp said.

Kemp explained that “the type of comment that would be actionable – legally — would be extremely egregious. And if you had, in and of itself, that one thing, it is the only thing you got.

No Proof? Difficult Case

“And if you didn’t have proof that it happened, that would be a really hard case,” he said.

“Typically we’re going to be talking about a situation — if we’re talking about comments — where if it’s anything close to a viable claim, we’re going to have comment after comment, after comment, after comment, after comment, over time.

#1 Cultural Workplace Problem

#1: “It’s going to be a cultural problem in the workplace.

#2: Many Perpetrators

#2: “There’s going to be six perpetrators, not one.

#3: Beyond ‘He Said, She Said’

#3: “It’s not going to be a simple, ‘he said, she said,’ Kemp explained.

#4: ‘Yes, But Not That Bad’

#4: “It’s going to be more like, ‘yes, I acknowledge we were kind of potty mouths, but it’s not as bad as they’re saying,’ type of situation,” Kemp said.

“But then you can throw them all in front of a jury, and the jury can decide who to believe.”

Whether you’re an employer defending against harassment claims, or an employee making discrimination claims, Kemp said that proving harassment or discrimination in a Florida workplace is complicated. Every case and each client’s circumstance is unique.

Talk with attorney L. Reed Bloodworth, and attorney J. Kemp Brinson and the employment law team to find out how Bloodworth Law can help you, your employees, or your business.

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