Law Office of David Miklas, P.A.

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When the Florida business asked the Court to delete these allegations from the lawsuit, it argued that these allegations are immaterial, prejudicial, and completely unrelated to the sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination claims. Essentially, the Florida business did not want the derogatory comments about race in a lawsuit that was based on sex harassment.

The Middle District of Florida rejected the Florida employer’s arguments, and allowed the allegations to be part of the lawsuit.  The judge explained:


  • The subject allegations describe [the supervisor’s] inappropriate workplace conduct, which potentially relates to the negligent retention claim to the extent that [the employee] claims that [the Florida company] was aware of this conduct and failed to take disciplinary action against [the supervisor]. The allegations also relate to [the employee’s] claims that [the supervisor] created a hostile work environment. Moreover, [the business] has not pointed to any prejudice suffered on its part if the subject allegations remain other than to state in a completely conclusory fashion that these allegations are ‘very prejudicial.’ This is insufficient.”  Early v. Pediatric Health Care All., P.A., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107410 (M.D. Fla. July 12, 2017)
  • On multiple occasions, in the presence of [the female employee], [the male supervisor] would make racially charged comments directed at one or more of the African-American female employees at the office, including asking “Do you know how to cook ham hocks and neck bones? All black people know how to cook those;” “I bought fried chicken and soda, only TJ and Pinky (two African-American employees of the [business]) can have some, because only black people eat fried chicken and soda together.”  Upon hearing these comments, [the female employee] immediately advised [her supervisor] that she was offended by the comments and for him to stop.

Clearly this Florida business realized that the derogatory statements are very damaging and prejudicial and they wanted to distance the company from the racist statements.  This recent decision (July 2017) shows that even if damaging statements do not appear to be related to the type of discrimination alleged in a lawsuit, the statements may still be allowed in the lawsuit, which is almost certain to sway the jurors at trial.

This Tampa-area business has offices in Hillsborough (South Tampa, Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Northside / USF, Brandon, Riverview, FishHawk), Pinellas (St. Petersburg, Largo / Seminole), Pasco (Odessa / Trinity, Lutz, Wesley Chapel), Lithia, and Lutz, Florida.

If you need any assistance in handling derogatory comments made by a manager or supervisor or employee concerning your Florida business, please promptly email or call the Law Office of David Miklas, P.A. at
1-772-465-5111.

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How bad are comments about black people and fried chicken?

Bad.  Real bad. Especially if the supervisor makes this type of comment to employees.

 A former employee of a Tampa, Florida company filed a lawsuit against her employer, alleging Title VII hostile work environment and retaliation claims against the Florida business and also a negligent retention claim against the Florida business. Although the majority of the employee’s claims describe gender-based discrimination, including sexual harassment, her negligent retention claim against the business broadly alleges that the Florida company did not appropriately investigate its own employees, specifically, the employee’s male supervisor.

 The female employee alleged that her male supervisor was involved “in the creation and permeation of a hostile work environment” against her and other employees.  She also alleged that the Florida company was aware of multiple incidents revealing her supervisor’s “unfitness” to remain employed as her supervisor, yet, the company failed to take appropriate disciplinary action against the male supervisor.

The Florida company asked the Court to remove some language from the lawsuit.  Specifically the business wanted the following allegations deleted:

 

  • On multiple occasions, [the supervisor], in the presence of [the female employee] and other employees, would state that he knew a particular African American female employee by the name of “TJ” was working because there was fried chicken in the break room refrigerator. When asked by [the female employee] what he meant, [the supervisor] said “only black people eat fried chicken."