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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits covered employers from discriminating in the terms and conditions of employment on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, gender, and pregnancy. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits covered employers from discriminating on the basis of age (with regard to employees who are 40 years or older), and the Americans With Disabilities Act prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of disability and may require employers to accommodate disabled employees depending on the circumstances. The Florida Civil Rights Act similarly prohibits discrimination on the basis of all these same factors, and also prohibits discrimination on the basis of marital status.

In appropriate circumstances, employees may attempt to prove discrimination by relying upon direct evidence and/or circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence may include comments that are made by someone who makes or influences the challenged decision, such as slurs and epithets, insults related to the protected factor, discriminatory or stereotypical comments, etc. The use of circumstantial evidence to prove a discriminatory motive may take different forms, the most common of which is known as “pretext.” If a reason given for the termination or the challenged decision is found to be pretextual, this may lend itself to an inference that the decision was motivated by the unlawful factor. Proof of pretext can include evidence that the reason given by the employer was dishonest, inconsistencies relative to the treatment of other similarly situated employees, suspicious timing in appropriate cases, etc.

The firm represents employees in discrimination cases involving all of the above factors. Employment discrimination issues typically arise with regard to employees who have been terminated. Discrimination issues can also arise, however, with regard to other matters such as demotion, denial of promotions, compensation, discipline, suspensions and other terms and conditions of employment. The laws prohibiting employment discrimination also prohibit sexual harassment, and harassment based on race or other protected characteristics.

The matter of whether a particular type of discrimination is legally prohibited, and the matter of whether unlawful discrimination can be proven, are complex questions that will depend on the facts and circumstances. Those who think they may possibly have an employment discrimination claim should consult with counsel.