A Florida OfficeMax recently settled retaliation claims filed by the EEOC on behalf of an employee for $85,000. In this case, an OfficeMax store manager fired an employee, who later complained that the manager fired him because he is Hispanic. The company required the manager to rehire the employee. According to the lawsuit, the manager, however, made life difficult for the employee by creating reasons to terminate him and trying to force him to resign. The employee went to the EEOC who investigated his claims against OfficeMax. After the parties failed to reach a pre-suit resolution, the EEOC filed a lawsuit in Tampa federal court on behalf of the employee.
Besides reaching a monetary settlement, the EEOC also obtained injunctive relief. OfficeMax agreed that over the next four years it will seek to reach more Hispanic and African American applicants in the Sarasota/Bradenton area. It also agreed to provide training for its managers and human resources personnel on racial harassment and retaliation.
Although Florida is an at-will employment state – i.e., an employer can fire you for a good reason, a bad reason or no reason at all – both federal and state laws protect employees against discrimination and retaliation. Because an employee’s economic livelihood depends on his/her employment, the law prohibits employers from disciplining or discharging employees for attempting to enforce their rights under the law.
Rich Bradford at Bradford & Bradford is available to answer any questions that you may have concerning retaliation or employment law in general. Call us at (813) 413-2402.