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Lakeland Legal Issues Blog

What rights does your employer have to your Twitter feed?

As a person on the internet, you have a great deal of freedom. Most believe that internet’s anonymity is absolute, but that is not necessarily the case. What happens if you find yourself in conflict with your employer over the things you post online?

Your online opinions are entirely your own. However, a recent case involving the NFL raises some important points. A former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins filed suit against the team claiming they discriminated against her Christian beliefs as stated on social media. She said their practices regarding her posts made for a hostile work environment which led to her quitting the team.

What is a protected class?

A protected class is a group of people identified by a certain characteristic. If you are a member of a given group and share that characteristic, it would typically be something that is essential to your personality, biology or way of life. Florida's diverse population contains many people who face employment discrimination based on their membership in protected classes. 

If you are wondering whether or not you are a member of a protected class, you are. The National Archives glossary of EEO terminology states in the definition of the term that every American is a member of a protected class. Therefore, you could potentially seek to address discrimination issues under the Equal Employment Opportunity Program, given the correct circumstances.

Understanding your personal rights in the workplace

At Kaylor, Kaylor & Leto, P.A., many of our clients come to us with a significant amount of skepticism about their chances of success in regards to their employment discrimination claims. We understand this feeling: It might seem close to impossible for an individual to stand up to a large Florida company and win.

What our clients do not often realize at first is that even though we provide personal consultations with an individual attorney, we also have a team of lawyers— in addition to an extended network of investigative and analytical professionals— working behind the scenes on each of our cases. This teamwork allows us to tackle even the most complicated workplace discrimination cases with efficiency and great attention to detail. 

Do I get extra disability payments for family members?

Florida residents who qualify for social security benefits might also be able to collect benefits for eligible family members. This does not mean that, were you to become disabled, you would be entitled to a large amount of money from the social security office. Rather, it would be a way a way to lessen the burden placed on your family if one or more members were to qualify for disability.

Your eligible family members might include:

  • Your spouse
  • Your children, whether biological, by marriage or adopted 
  • Dependent grandchildren
  • Your unmarried former spouse

What type of injury benefits are available in Florida?

There are two common ways you might receive funds through workers compensation in Florida. One is by recouping medical costs you incur while recovering from your injury. The other is compensation for any impairment or disability resulting from the injury.

Your medical bills are probably one of your first priorities when you become injured. Although it is important to seek medical attention immediately, you should also keep a level head and maintain a good record of any treatment you receive. Any and all paperwork associated with your injury could become important down the road.

Finding healthy and effective ways to cope with discrimination

Employment is a central part of the lives of many people in Florida who rely on their talents, competencies and strengths to earn a wage and make a living. As such, it is expected that the workplace be a safe and productive environment, conducive to creativity, efficiency and progress. However, many people face discrimination whether it is related to their upbringing, race, religion and even political affiliation. 

Companies where employees do not feel safe and are the victims of discrimination may be at increased risk of lawsuits if the victims come forward with proven allegations. While many organizations go to extensive lengths to protect their employees, it is critical that people understand what they should do if they are discriminated against so they can put a stop to negative harassment before it creates a danger. According to Chron, one of the most effective ways for people to cope with discrimination is to report all harassing behavior as soon as it happens. Documenting one's strife is an excellent way to maintain proof that unwanted harassment is taking place. Failure to report the behavior right away may make it exponentially harder for the victim to prove his or her case and get compensation. 

Is forced retirement legal?

If you feel like your employer has been trying to muscle you out of your position into retirement, you are far from alone. Florida's rapidly aging workforce is a prime target for this type of discrimination. However, it is not always illegal to encourage or mandate retirement based on age.

If you are employed in a certain category of jobs, then it might be completely legal for an employer to enforce a retirement age. A Forbes article lists a number of jobs that still carry a mandatory age of retirement, including airline pilots and air traffic controllers.

Age, race, pregnancy: How we uncover employment discrimination

Employers looking to fill a position are by nature analyzing the candidates they interview. However, analysis should be based on your ability to perform the job functions, valuable assets you possess and can contribute should you grow with the company.

Determining advancement in the interview process ought to be objective and related to the criteria listed on the job posting. A person's candidacy should not be based on their age, race, religion, gender and other factors unrelated to the person's work abilities.

What health and injury risks do food service workers face?

If you list yourself among the many people across Florida who make a living working in a restaurant or food service role, you face specific on-the-job hazards that commonly lead to injury within your industry. The nature of your field places you at risk for repetitive motion-related injuries, heavy lifting-related injuries and numerous others. Additionally, many of the injury risks you face as a restaurant or food service worker are consistent industry-wide, meaning you face many of the same environmental hazards, regardless of whether you work in fine dining or a fast food establishment.

Per Restaurant Programs of America, injuries related to lifting are common among restaurant, food service and hospitality workers, and they can stem from carrying trays, lifting heavy boxes and transporting tables and chairs, among other causes. Your food service work environment also potentially exposes you to hazardous chemicals, and this may prove particularly true if cleaning using certain harmful substances is a regular part of your job.

How does the government decide if you qualify for SSDI?

Florida's large population of seniors means that many of the state's residents are likely to be concerned about applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if they should become disabled. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, the government will determine whether you qualify for SSDI through specific criteria, including work history and the nature of your disability.

First, you must have contributed to Social Security during your time of employment, including working for a qualifying period of time and in a period recent enough for the Social Security Administration to consider you eligible. The government also requires that you have acquired a certain amount of work credits under Social Security to qualify for benefits. These credits may vary depending on age, but typically you will need forty credits to qualify, with twenty of them earned in the past ten years with the final year the one in which you became disabled.

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