One employee has made several discrimination complaints with the EEOC and Human Resources. Can I fire her for being a troublemaker, in Florida?
For Florida employers, the answer in this situation is an absolute “no.” It is absolutely illegal for employers to find an excuse to fire an employee simply because she has made several discrimination complaints to the Human Resources department, or to the EEOC.
It is a sad but true fact that lots of companies discriminate against employees. Were it legal for employers to fire every employee who complained, nobody would ever complain. The discrimination, therefore, would continue.
Retaliation alone is a form of discrimination under the law. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination that is based on country of origin, sex, religion, color, or race is strictly prohibited. The same law prohibits retaliation against employees who file complaints in good faith.
There are numerous ways that companies can retaliate against employees. For instance, a change in job duties, a change in pay, a change in working conditions, or a demotion would all constitute retaliation. It would also be considered retaliatory for employers to encourage other employees not to speak to the employee in question, or to exclude her in other ways.
In a recent case in Illinois, the EEOC found that Woodward Governor was discriminating against Asian, Hispanic, African-American, and female employees in its factories located in Rockford and Rockton, Illinois. The initial suit that was filed in this case was for race discrimination, and was filed in 2003. The suit was based on a complaint that had been filed in 2002. In 2006, the EEOC added an additional suit for sex discrimination. The suits were recently settled.
During the time that the suits were pending, lots of the complaining employees continued to work at the two plants in Illinois. Had the company retaliated against any of those employees, the penalties would have been more severe. In total, the discrimination case cost the company $5 million.
It is highly advisable that companies do not retaliate against any employee, even if that employee is considered to be a troublemaker. JH
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