In Latin, the phrase quid pro quo translates to “something for something.” To apply a more modern phrase with the same meaning, “you scratch my back, I scratch yours,” would be an apt comparison. However, quid pro quo sexual harassment is never the reciprocal favor these phrases might suggest. In fact, it is an appalling power play that ruins lives and puts fear and anxiety in the hearts of workers everywhere. To help protect and empower you as an employee, let’s examine what you should know about quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Defining Sexual Harassment

Before we can fully understand what quid pro quo sexual harassment is, we first must review what the law defines as sexual harassment. It’s important to understand that the term sexual harassment is very broad and encompasses many types of unwanted sexual attention. Sexual harassment violates civil laws, as it typically occurs in professional settings, such as the workplace. Sexual harassment can include but is not limited to sexual jokes, innuendos, insults, threats, pranks, bribes, videos, and even sexual assault.

While you may get reprimanded or fired for sexual harassment, not all instances are criminal, such as sexual jokes or innuendos. Typically, many policies and rules are in place at work to prevent these things from happening, but they don’t always succeed. There is an inherent power imbalance at work that can turn sexual harassment into quid pro quo harassment.

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment?

For most Americans, their job is their livelihood, and even if someone isn’t living paycheck to paycheck, chances are that they can’t afford to lose their job. This is where the power imbalance comes into play. If your boss, employer, or higher-up wants to punish you for the wrong reasons, they can. Of course, it’s illegal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t do it. How does this fit in with quid pro quo harassment?

The law defines quid pro quo harassment as the act of an authority figure requesting or demanding unwanted sexual favors or acts from a worker in exchange for some benefit. This could be in exchange for money, privileges, a raise, a promotion, etc. What makes this behavior even more appalling is that, as a result, the employee is often afraid to say no or to report the incident for fear of punishment. As mentioned, many Americans can’t afford to lose their jobs, so when it comes down to doing what they say versus losing their jobs, many are often left with no choice.

What Are the Signs of Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Unfortunately, quid pro quo sexual harassment can often go unnoticed due to subtlety and lack of reporting—the abuser will likely act in secret to remain out of trouble. This makes it difficult for other employees, managers, and HR to determine what’s happening and pinpoint this sexual harassment. However, there are signs that can help others identify quid pro quo harassment. While some of these signs on their own aren’t immediately indicative of harassment, it’s important to watch out for the following:

What Are Some Examples of This Form of Harassment?

If the signs above aren’t enough to help you identify this type of harassment, you aren’t alone. Sometimes, knowing what to look for isn’t enough, and you may have doubts or concerns about what you’re observing. To help, let’s take a look at a few examples.

Example #1:

On the Inside: Christine meets with her boss for a quarterly review, and the results don’t look so good. She’s new and hasn’t been fully trained, so the results are not necessarily out of the norm. Her boss tells her that he can make the review look better if she performs sexual acts for him. She says no, but he threatens to fire her if she doesn’t obey.

On the Outside: Despite Christine’s lack of training, she’s been quickly promoted and seems overwhelmed by all her new responsibilities and tasks. Her boss requests visits with her often and alone. When the two are together in meetings or staff events, Christine avoids him. There are rumors around the office that employees have seen Christine’s boss looking inappropriately at Christine and making rude gestures behind her back.

Example #2:

On the Inside: Mark is a well-trained employee who does his job very well. One day, he makes a small mistake at his job, and his boss calls him into his office to talk about it. His boss says he could be fired for what he did, even though Mark is great at his job and the mistake was minimal. Regardless, his boss only agrees not to let him go if he performs a sexual favor.

On the Outside: Mark’s boss is ice cold toward him, ignores him most days, and says he doesn’t believe Mark is a good employee. Despite this, Mark still has amazing reviews and meets alone with his boss quite often. Other employees have even seen them out in public. Mark maintains that he’s fine, but his once-great work is declining, and he often appears tired or sad.

What Isn’t Considered Quid Pro Quo Harassment?

Even though a sexual encounter may occur between employees, this doesn’t mean that quid pro quo sexual harassment is occurring or that a civil law has been broken. A consensual sexual relationship between two employees, one being superior and the other a subordinate, isn’t harassment if there are no intended or anticipated employment effects. Additionally, sexual harassment can occur, but if there isn’t a “something for something” exchange, it isn’t considered quid pro quo sexual harassment. Conversely, if a “something for something” exchange does occur but is void of a sexual act, it is not quid pro quo sexual harassment but is considered quid pro quo harassment.

The most important thing you need to know about quid pro quo sexual harassment is that it is never the victim’s fault. Claims should always be taken seriously and with respect.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of quid pro quo sexual harassment, know that there are people who care and are willing to represent you with everything they have. Contact sexual harassment lawyer Tamara N. Holder today and make the strides toward justice.

What You Need To Know About Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Title VII was passed on Jul 2, 1964, as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which the US Congress enacted to end discrimination in employment, voting processes, and public facilities. To this day, many Americans reap the benefits the foundational Civil Rights Act sowed. Despite this, many people are unsure of what exactly Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does and who it protects.

What Is Title VII?

Title VII is a provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but its specific intention was to outlaw discrimination against certain protected characteristics. Notably, it protects employees from being barred or fired from jobs for discriminatory reasons, even in at-will employment states. Before the Civil Rights Act was passed, employers could fire an employee for virtually any reason, creating a large employment gap among minorities and at-risk groups. Not only is it wrong morally, but the wild-west of employment wasn’t good for the economy. Now, employers are restricted in how they interview applicants, why they can hire or fire an employee, and how they’re supposed to treat them.

Who Does It Protect?

In its beginning, Title VII protected employees from being discriminated against on the basis of their age, sex, gender, ability, race, religion, color, and ethnicity. It’s no coincidence that the Civil Rights Movement gained serious traction less than a decade before the act passed. While the Civil Rights Movement was largely motivated and led by Black Americans, the movement aimed to end segregation and discrimination on all fronts.

It is important to note that Title VII only applies to employers with 15 or more employees.

How Has It Changed?

As times and viewpoints have changed, so has Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and amendments have been made in order to include and protect more people. For example, after The Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was passed, Title VII was amended to protect pregnant employees. Additionally, the Civil Rights Act of 1991 added provisions to Title VII and expanded women’s rights, allowing them to collect damages for sexual harassment and discrimination.

Why does this all matter? It’s important for employees to know what Title VII of the Civil Rights Act does for them and who it protects. Those without knowledge are at the mercy of those who have it.

While legal protections for LGBTQIA+ members are still limited, people out there are willing to help. If you believe you’ve been discriminated against on the basis of who you choose to love, know that Title VII protects you, and so will we. Contact sexual orientation discrimination lawyer Tamara N Holder today to get the experienced and competent legal representation you deserve.

Whether you visit a psychiatrist, neurologist, oncologist, or any other type of doctor, they are all supposed to treat you with respect and dignity. This is because there is an inherent power imbalance in the doctor-patient relationship that makes it easy for a malicious person to manipulate and abuse a patient. Of course, doctors are held to a very high standard and are taught in-depth how to approach, speak, and examine a patient, so they feel safe and cared for. However, doctors are people, and just like people, they can use their power to do bad things. If this happens, they need to be held accountable for their actions. If a medical professional has mistreated or abused you, let’s take a comprehensive look at when and how to file a doctor harassment complaint.

Defining Harassment

The law defines harassment as the assault, battery, stalking, or threat of violence that harms, frightens, or aggravates a person. Ultimately, harassment can fall into four categories: verbal, written, visual, and physical. In addition, these categories can further divide into various subcategories, such as sexual harassment, psychological harassment, verbal abuse, and more.

If your experiences don’t perfectly fit into or align with any of these categories or subcategories, this does not mean your experiences are invalid or that you shouldn’t report them. Harassment looks incredibly different depending on the victim and the alleged aggressor. Additionally, despite what some people may tell you, harassment of any kind can happen to anyone. While some groups may be more vulnerable, no one should belittle or ignore your experiences.

What Doctor-Patient Harassment Can Look Like

Again, doctor-patient harassment can look very different based on the situation, but to keep things simple, let’s review some examples of harassment that fall into the four categories. If your doctor insults you, disrespects you, makes inappropriate jokes, or threatens you, these actions can constitute verbal harassment. These very same abusive actions can be in written form, whether it be on your paperwork, chart, or even digitally through a patient portal. Physical and sexual harassment is where things can get a little tricky, as it can take on forms that are much subtler and more insidious.

While a doctor might strike or push a patient, physical abuse a medical professional enacts often doesn’t look that way. Often, this physical abuse looks like unnecessarily holding a patient down, unnecessary or painful procedures, purposefully giving the wrong drugs such as sedatives, or other actions that cause physical harm. Sexual harassment can be similar to physical harassment and appear as invasive or inappropriate procedures to examine or touch a patient’s genitals or sex characteristics. It can also be outright sexual advances or behaviors such as molestation or rape.

When To File a Complaint

Ideally, a victim would file a complaint directly after the abuse occurs, but this isn’t always the case, nor is it always possible. Many victims need time to process what occurred or may feel afraid to speak out for various reasons. These feelings and reservations are perfectly understandable and normal for people who have experienced any kind of harassment. However, a statute of limitations (SOL) determines how long you have to report before you can no longer take legal action or file a complaint.

These SOLs can also vary widely by state. In some areas, you have three to six years from the date of the incident to submit a complaint. On the other hand, some states only give you a year or two to file a lawsuit. While it’s important to take your time and do what you’re comfortable with, it’s also important to be aware of these time frames to make the best decision for yourself.

How To File a Complaint

When you’re ready to file a complaint against your doctor or any other medical professional, you have two choices. You can go to the front desk and ask for the HR department’s contact information, and a human resources manager should be able to direct you from there. Alternatively, you can directly call your state’s medical board.

Much like for SOLs, the process of filing a complaint varies from state to state. Some states allow you to file electronically, others over the phone, or others by mailing a physical document. Ultimately, when you call the medical board, they will be able to tell you exactly, and in detail, what you need to do. You should also expect to provide as many details as you can about what occurred.

What To Expect After Filing a Complaint

Unfortunately, when you file a complaint, it doesn’t guarantee the doctor will face disciplinary action. However, if multiple people file complaints against the same doctor, the board will likely launch an investigation, especially if the complaints are of a similar nature.

The process is generally as follows: once you file a complaint, the board reviews it to determine if a violation occurred. If they determine that a violation did occur, then they could launch an investigation.

Again, though you can’t guarantee an investigation, you can guarantee your complaint will remain completely anonymous. If you wish to know if your complaint triggers an investigation, you will likely have to provide your name, phone number, and address.

When Harassment Turns Into Malpractice

For most people, the definition of medical malpractice evokes thoughts of a negligent doctor and a procedure gone awry, but this isn’t always the case. Medical malpractice is a negligent or omitted act that causes injury or harm to a patient. This harm does not have to be the result of a botched surgery. In fact, it doesn’t have to be a physical injury at all. If your doctor damages you emotionally or psychologically, it’s still medical malpractice, as it breaks the code of ethics that they signed when they became a doctor. If you’re the victim of medical malpractice, you should consider going beyond a formal complaint and filing a lawsuit against your doctor to receive the appropriate compensation.

If you have any further questions regarding when and how to file a doctor harassment complaint or are seeking legal representation, contact the Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder today. As an experienced patient rights attorney, you can trust that Tamara Holder will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.

When and How To File a Doctor Harassment Complaint

Governor Ron DeSantis continues to utilize children to advance his anti-LGBTQ agenda.

In its latest effort to sanitize sexuality, the DeSantis administration has now entered a private place of business, threatening to revoke the liquor license of the Hyatt Regency Miami, following the “Drag Queen Christmas” event that was held at the hotel-affiliated James L. Knight Auditorium in December. The admission policy allowed children under the age of 18 to attend the show with an adult.

The DeSantis administration does not take aim directly at the drag queens but instead claims that, because children were exposed to the drag show (despite a warning from the state), the hotel’s premises should lose its liquor license.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation accuses the venue of several violations, including a prohibition of "lascivious exhibition" to people under the age of 16. “The nature of the show’s performances, particularly when conducted in the presence of young children, corrupts the public morals and outrages the sense of public decency.”

“Exposing children to sexually explicit activity” violates the Department's licensing standards for operating a business and holding a liquor license,” claims a DeSantis official.

Last year, Governor DeSantis signed the “Parental Rights in Education” bill, commonly referred to as the "Don't Say Gay" law, which prohibits public school teachers in Florida from holding classroom instruction about sexual orientation or gender identity.

This is a different kind of war DeSantis has started. It is now clear that DeSantis does not want to protect kids from topics in a public education setting. It is now clear that DeSantis is using kids as a tool to root out a community that contributes to the economy and creates the flair that makes Miami great.

In 1992, the Miami Herald published a collection of stories, “A Gay Renaissance,” highlighting how the influx of gay people to Miami restored dilapidated Art Deco buildings, opened businesses, opened a local chamber of commerce, and built political clout. In 1994, Miami became the first city in Miami-Dade County to ban discrimination based on gender identity. “We are here to live in peace. We are citizens just like everyone else. We are lawyers and doctors and judges. And the fellow who delivers the newspaper, and the ones who are waiting on you, and who are washing your dishes,” said Michael Aller, of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.

If the DeSantis administration is genuinely concerned about the welfare of children, it would prohibit them from being permitted to enter establishments like Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks Restaurants, which have locations across the state, where young waitresses are hyper-sexualized, and required to don lingerie while serving liquor to patrons who bring children along.

DeSantis is attempting to set a dangerous precedent which could lead to the administration threatening to close movie theaters where adults to bring their children to movies with sexualized scenes. Or restrictions on concerts like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Beyonce. Now is the time for Floridians to stand up to this witch hunt against the LGBTQ community disguised as an effort to protect the children.

Tamara Holder is a nationally recognized civil rights attorney. She built a pro bono legal clinic at Rainbow Push Coalition under Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, Sr, and was a progressive legal analyst on Fox News Channel for nearly a decade.

Wrongful termination and unfair termination are terms that often get used interchangeably, but, legally speaking, they are two very different things. If the situation surrounding your dismissal is cloudy, the reasons seem vague, or something doesn’t feel right, knowing your rights is essential, even if you work in an at-will state. To help shed some light on these complex employment laws and what you’re entitled to as an employee, let’s review the differences between unfair and wrongful termination.

What Is Unfair Dismissal?

Dismissal and termination have the same definition and simply mean the firing or removal of an employee. Essentially, unfair dismissal is the unfair termination of an employee and typically occurs if the termination gets deemed harsh or unreasonable. For example, if someone gets fired because the employer thinks they stole from the cash register without evidence, the court would consider it an unreasonable and unfair dismissal. However, if the dismissal gets conducted in small businesses, there are different regulations regarding termination, and it must be consistent with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

What Is Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee gets fired for unlawful reasons that either violate their contract, discrimination laws, employment laws, violate public policy, or is done in retaliation. One example of wrongful termination could be if an employee got fired because of their race or religion, as this would violate anti-discrimination laws. Alternatively, if an employee gets fired at the end of their shift, but their contract states the employer must give them two weeks’ notice before dismissal, the law considers it wrongful termination.

What Are the Differences Between Them?

The difference between unfair vs. wrongful termination lies in why an employee got terminated. Additionally, the consequences of terminating someone based on a protected characteristic, such as race or religion, differ significantly from firing someone because the employer simply doesn’t like them. Violating federal employment, labor, and anti-discrimination laws can put an employer in jail. In contrast, an employer may need to reinstate or compensate an employee if they’re found guilty of unfair dismissal.

How Does This Affect At-Will Employment States?

In an at-will employment state, an employee can get fired for almost any reason unless otherwise stated in the employment contract. Due to this policy, it is essentially legal for at-will employers to unfairly dismiss an employee. For example, if an employer fires you for showing up to work wearing a T-shirt of a sports team they hate, they can fire you; it’s unfair but not considered illegal. However, at-will employers cannot fire anyone for virtually any reason. If you’re fired in a way that violates wrongful termination laws, your employer can get held accountable.

Contact The Law Firm of Tamara N Holder today if you believe you've been wrongfully terminated. We’ll put you in contact with one of our wrongful termination lawyers so you can get the legal representation and compensation you deserve.

During a consultation with an attorney, you can get a good sense of how they feel about the odds of success, how they’ll handle your case, and if they’re a good fit for you. To help you find the best legal representation for your case, let’s review the five most important questions you must ask your employment attorney before hiring them.

How Much of Your Practice Do You Dedicate to Employment Law?

Many law firms don’t just engage in one area of law, so it’s very common to find a practice that simultaneously engages in employment, business, or family law. This doesn’t mean the attorney doesn’t have experience in employment law, but there is a chance they have less experience than an attorney in a firm that exclusively practices employment law. You can get a feel of their experience and exposure to employment law cases if you ask them how much of their practice they dedicate to employment law. Remember that the more complex your case is, the more experienced you want them to be.

Do You Typically Represent Employers or Employees?

Most law firms tend to focus on representing employees as it’s easier, and more likely, for an employer to have the money to find quality legal representation. However, this isn’t always the case–defenses and arguments vary widely depending on whether their client is an employer or an employee. You’ll want an attorney that’s competent in representing people like you.

What Are the Most Likely Results of My Case?

There are no guarantees in law. However, some scenarios are more likely to occur in employment law cases. A knowledgeable and experienced employment attorney should be able to give you an idea of how your case may play out. Some standard employment law results include the following:

What Are Your Fees?

Attorney fees can vary depending on the practice. Some attorneys only charge a contingency fee, which means you don’t have to pay anything unless you win your case. Others might charge an hourly wage or a monthly retainer fee. None of these charging methods is wrong or better than the other; it simply depends on what they charge and what you can afford. However, it is arguably one of the most important questions you should ask an employment attorney–if you can’t pay, they can’t represent you.

How Many Cases Have You Handled Like Mine, and What Are Your Success Rates?

Every employment case is unique and different from the other, and there are many different areas of employment law. While an employment attorney should be competent in all of them, that doesn’t mean they’ve handled every type of employment law case. The more cases they’ve taken that are similar to yours, the more equipped they are to handle it. Additionally, there is no shame in asking an attorney what their success rates are with cases like yours and cases they’ve taken in general.

If you believe you’ve been a victim of harassment, abuse, or discrimination in the workplace, contact the Law Firm of Tamara N Holder today. We can put you in touch with a workplace discrimination lawyer and get you the representation you deserve.

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term that categorizes the entirety of sex-based crimes. In particular, sexual harassment refers to unwanted verbal assault or actions of a sexual nature.

Sexual assault and sexual abuse fall under the umbrella term of sexual harassment, but sexual assault refers to physical acts, such as molestation, whereas sexual abuse typically refers to sex crimes against children. However, the psychology behind why some children don’t report sexual harassment is very different from that of adults. Therefore, this article on why some people don’t report sexual harassment will focus on acts that fall under sexual harassment and sexual assault.

We know that sex-based crimes are incredibly underreported, but why?

A Sense of Shame

There’s a pervasive yet bizarre notion that when people go through sexual assaults, particularly women, it has something to do with the way that they dress or act. This idea relays the notion across Western society that it’s the victim’s fault for enticing the abuser or making themselves vulnerable, which instills a deep sense of shame in victims.

For men, it’s a feeling that they weren’t strong enough or masculine enough to prevent the situation or the notion that things like this don’t happen to boys. None of these ideas are true, but when you have these beliefs instilled in you, the act of being assaulted, let alone reporting it, feels deeply shameful.

Fear of Being Humiliated

Often, with the sense of shame comes a fear of being humiliated. The idea is that if a victim reports the assault, everyone else will know about it. Relaying the details of what occurred can also be embarrassing. Victims know that they’ll have to recall and tell others what happened over and over again, whether that be doctors, counselors, the police, or a judge and jury. This is traumatizing and leaves victims vulnerable to questions of character, sexual habits, and other private matters.

Worried About Retaliation

Fear of retaliation or revenge often arises when sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, but this isn’t always the case. It’s true that many workplace victims are afraid of losing their job or being demoted if they report the incident. However, there’s also a fear of physical retaliation that goes beyond the workplace.

Sometimes, people will threaten a victim or the victim’s family with violence if they report the crime. And other times, no one makes any threats, but the victim is understandably afraid it will occur. No one wants to put themselves in a situation where they may be a victim of another painful crime.

Lack of Past Action

It’s an upsetting and horrifying statistic, but those who have gone through a sexual assault will go through more throughout their lifetime, either by the same abuser or different abusers. It’s likely that these people have reported an incident in the past, but nothing ever occurred. This may sound like something that doesn’t often occur, but it’s easy and common for an officer or a counselor to not grasp the situation or fall into social biases and blame the victim. If they’ve reported a sex-based crime before and didn’t receive justice, a victim can feel hopeless and see no point in reporting.

Minimization or Denial of the Situation

Sexual harassment often causes post-traumatic stress disorder. One of the ways that the brain copes with severe stress or stressful situations is to deny the reality of the incident or minimize what occurred. They can convince themselves that what happened “wasn’t that big of a deal” because they weren’t hurt or the crime “wasn’t that serious.” In truth, every case of sexual harassment is serious.

On the other hand, some may deny that the incident occurred to protect themselves, and, on occasion, the brain can almost completely wipe the memory to protect the body.

Afraid the Offender May Face Consequences

While this may sound strange, it’s common for victims to be afraid that their abuser will get in trouble. Another alarming statistic that contributes to this is that most often, the victims know their abuser, and it’s less common for a stranger to sexually assault someone. They could be a friend, family member, partner, or any other person that they care about that they don’t want to see go to jail. Sometimes, even more horrifyingly, other family members know the assault occurred and don’t want the abuser to go to jail and will try to threaten or convince the victim not to report the assault.

Fear of the Unknown or the Legal Process

For those unfamiliar with the legal process, going through all of the hoops, interviews, questioning, and documentation can be scary and uncomfortable. It’s also possible for someone to have a fear of law enforcement or the legal process due to past trauma. This is especially true for POC who have been sexually assaulted and are often unfairly treated and abused by the justice system. Understandably, victims want to protect what sense of safety and comfort they have left and will do what they can to defend it.

Too Much Time Has Passed

Many sex-based crimes have a set statute of limitations. While there’s great debate over whether these statutes should exist, the fact of the matter is that they do. Victims need time to process, sometimes longer than the statute of limitations allows, and when this occurs, victims will resign themselves to keeping the incident a secret for the rest of their lives.

Even if the statute of limitations has passed, you should report the incident to the police. It’s highly likely that an abuser will abuse again or commit another crime. When you report the incident, police have to file and keep it. Then, they can use it to verify the story of possible future victims or catch the abuser on an entirely different charge.

Now that we understand a little bit more about why some people don’t report sexual harassment, what can we do about this alarming trend? The answer is complicated, as it involves a lot of social and legal reform. What we do know is that it starts with holding abusers accountable.

There are 463,000 rape victims each year, and 90 percent of those cases are women. Holding abusers accountable directly correlates to protecting the women of America. That’s why women’s rights lawyer Tamara N Holder uses her expertise to help end this cycle of abuse.

Why Some People Don’t Report Sexual Harassment

Illegal termination, otherwise known as wrongful termination, occurs when an employee is fired or let go for reasons that violate anti-discrimination laws or if said reasons breach an employment contract. If you’re unsure what this looks like or if you’ve been a victim of it, let’s look at five examples of illegal termination that employees should know about.

Discrimination Against Protected Characteristics

Age, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy status, disability, race, ethnicity, and religion are all protected characteristics under anti-discrimination laws. This means that an employer cannot treat you unfavorably due to a protected characteristic, including termination, as it would be considered illegal discrimination.

For example, an employer cannot fire an elderly employee simply because they have biased or discriminatory beliefs about the elderly, as it directly violates anti-discrimination laws. In fact, this particular form of discrimination occurs so often that there are age discrimination attorneys specifically for this reason.

Termination for Engaging in Protected Acts

As an employee, you have particular rights that allow you to engage in certain activities, known as protected acts, but an employer may not be so keen on your participation. Protected acts can include taking entitled sick leave or vacation time, filing a worker’s compensation claim, or asking for disability accommodations. Say an employer really needs you on a specific day, but you were approved for vacation time well beforehand and take the day off. When you come back, your employer fires you for not being there—they would be firing you for engaging in a protected act.

Termination in Retaliation Against Whistleblowers

Whistleblowing involves reporting illicit activities that may be occurring in the workplace. While this is also technically a protected act, it is one of the most common examples of illegal termination. You have a legal right to report crimes or violations that occur in the workplace, especially if you’re asked or encouraged to participate in them. Say, for example, you file a report about your employer engaging in unsafe workspace practices—that employer cannot legally fire you for doing so to protect themselves.

Termination That Breaches Employee Contract

If your employer fires you for doing something that is required of you in your contract or doesn’t follow the right termination procedures, this is considered illegal termination. For example, if it states in your contract that the termination policy requires a verbal and written warning beforehand, and you receive one or neither, that qualifies as a breach of contract. As a result of this breach, you have technically been terminated illegally.

Engaging in Constructive Dismissal

Constructive dismissal, or constructive termination, occurs when an employer makes it impossible for an employee to conduct their responsibilities. Essentially, they will attempt to make the workplace intolerable, and if you can’t do your job, they believe they technically have the grounds to fire you. But this is not the case. For instance, if an employer suddenly changes the location of your employment without sufficient notice and fires you for not being able to attend, or you quit as a response, this is constructive dismissal.

Employees have rights, and even at-will states can’t illegally terminate you. If you believe that you’ve been a victim of wrongful termination, contact the Law Firm of Tamara N Holder today to get the legal representation you deserve.

Wage violations, wage and hour violations, or wage theft are all terms that generally refer to the same thing: an employer not properly paying an employee. Most wage violations occur due to ignorance of the law, not malice. While that isn’t an excuse, it’s certainly fixable.

If you’re an employee that wants to know more about their rights or an employer who doesn’t want to get caught in a sticky legal situation, this article is for you. Let’s take a close look at the most common types of wage violations in the workplace, so you can either identify or avoid them.

Overtime Pay Miscalculations

When an employee makes different pay for different tasks, overtime miscalculations can occur. While state laws vary, an employee should receive 1.5 times the amount of their hourly wage for exceeding 8 hours and 2 times their hourly wage for exceeding 12 hours.

Additionally, employers cannot average the hours worked during the pay period to calculate overtime pay. Say a person who typically works 40 hours a week has to work overtime. If said employee works 60 hours the first week of a pay period and 20 hours the second week, it averages to 40 hours per week during the pay period. Some employers make the mistake of thinking this doesn’t count as overtime, but it does. The overtime system works on a week-by-week basis.

Improper Overtime Classifications

Certain employees are exempt from overtime pay due to their classifications. These exemptions are where things can get a little tricky for employers, as there is some obscurity concerning salaried employees.

Many employees and employers alike assume that all salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay, but that isn’t always true. It’s important to look into the pay standards and regulations for all employee classifications if employers want to avoid unpaid overtime claims.

Failure To Reimburse for Business Expenses

For many employees, it is up to them to get what they need for their job. The resulting expenses are business expenses. Business expenses can include travel costs, tools, supplies, and continued education or training. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers don’t have to pay their employees reimbursement for business expenses.

However, if the business expenses incurred cause the employee’s earnings to dip below minimum wage, then, under federal law, the employer must reimburse the employee for these work-related expenses. Regardless, it is wise for employers to have a clearly defined reimbursement policy and an accessible system for employees to request reimbursement for business expenses.

Failure To Pay Agreed-Upon Wages

If an employer fails to pay an employee any agreed-upon wages—such as regular wages, overtime, or commissions—it would be considered wage theft. It is an employee’s right to receive pay for their labor. Therefore, in most cases, paycheck deferments are illegal, even if an employee agrees to them.

While some situations may be accidental, it should be a cause for concern if your employer consistently “forgets” to pay you or has issues with check bouncing. Even if an employee quits or is terminated, it is their right to receive earned wages and payment for unused vacation days.

Paying Less Than the Minimum Wage

The minimum wage varies from state to state, and it is up to the employer to pay that minimum hourly wage. If an employee is eligible for tips, an employer can pay less than this standard. However, this is only the case if the tips add up to minimum wage once factored in.

If for any reason, an employee does not receive the minimum wage and the correct payment for the hours they worked, the employee is entitled to damages. This includes wages lost, attorney fees, and other punitive damages if the case is severe enough.

Illegal Wage Deductions

There are very few situations in which an employer can legally deduct from an employee’s wages. An employer cannot take gratuity or business expenses out of any employee’s wages. Additionally, if an employer lends an employee money outside of work, they cannot deduct the money owed from the employee’s wages.

Employees should keep in mind that a smaller paycheck doesn’t always mean their employer is stealing from them. Legally, an employer can deduct or withhold pay for retirement, insurance policies, social security, Medicare, state income, and federal income taxes.

Illegal Tip Pooling

There are specific laws that also vary from state to state regarding tip-pooling policies. For example, in Massachusetts, Florida, and California, tip pooling is allowed, but only among serving staff and not with management or owners. However, in other states, it’s illegal for employers to mandate tip pooling. If employees want to pool tips, it’s something they must agree to without the influence of their employer.

No Allowance for Accruing or Using Sick Leave

Laws surrounding paid sick leave vary from state to state, but there is currently no federal law that requires private employers to give paid sick leave. However, employees have coverage under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and more states are protecting their employees from going to work ill.

What this means is that employees can take unpaid time off and return to their positions without punishment. This also means that in states where paid sick leave is mandatory, such as California, not being able to accrue or use sick leave is considered wage theft.

No Allowance for Taking Rest or Meal Breaks

While there are also no federal laws surrounding meal breaks and rest periods, businesses that do employ this policy must adhere to it. Under federal law, these breaks are considered compensable work hours included in the workweek and help determine if an employee worked overtime. If any employer violates this policy, they are violating their employees’ contracts. Even if an employee opts out of taking their lunch break, if the policy is in place, the employee must offer it.

While these are some of the most common types of wage violations, this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. If you believe you’ve been a victim of wage theft for any reason listed or not listed here, it’s time to contact The Law Firm of Tamara N. Holder. We can get you in contact with one of our wage discrimination lawyers who specializes in the field and is intimately familiar with wage theft and wage discrimination laws.

Common Types of Wage Violations in the Workplace

The Law Firm of Tamara N Holder, LLC
Any information contained herein is not to be construed as legal advice.
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