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Is this legal? Florida Florida

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  • Is this legal? Florida Florida

    Hi...I work as a security guard (class D) and I have come into a few situations that I am confused if they are even legal. Please bear with me as this will be quite long...

    Within my training period and 2-3 weeks after, I was verbally abused by one of the employees. I am of a specific orientation and I was called a f*gg*t....I am also not of the white persuasion and I was called a n*gg*r. I brought this up to my supervisor who said "Oh, that's uncalled for" but the employee was still allowed to stay at the site. This made it very uncomfortable as we worked the same days, but different shifts, but saw each other on shift change and that is where the comments were made. Not to mention, the other employees have come to me and our supervisor saying he has said these things and that they found it inappropriate. One particular night on shift change, I was briefing on days events and he verbally attacked me yet again and was in my face. The next day I confronted my supervisor again and said I can't keep working around this guy because I am very uncomfortable. The company did not terminate the employee, instead that relocated him. This particular employee also carries a firearm on his person (concealed) on a site that is strictly an unarmed position. Management is aware, however they say since they can't "see" it, they can't do anything about it.

    The other issues I am having are with the scheduling. In the past two weeks, the schedules have changed drastically w/o any forewarning. One particular employee had no choice but to resign as he is a single parent who has his daughter on weekends only, and the new schedule put him on weekend overnights only. Management had prior knowledge of his situation and knowingly put him on a shift there was no way he could do. However, when he explained how he had no choice but to call out as they gave him a 2 day notice, they then just took him off the schedule...stating he was an "unreliable employee".

    Now the focus is on me. I do my job, never late, never called out, do everything by the book. My wife is disabled (which they are fully aware of and that I am her caregiver) & we have a small child in the home. They switched me to all overnight shifts without forewarning, and gave my 3-11p shift to a newer employee. Their reasoning is that this new employee could not work overnights, even though previously he had been doing just that. Now I am forced this new schedule, which makes it very difficult with my wife being disabled, and they are being VERY rude and uncooperative. They expect me to switch shifts with other workers with no problems, but when I need a shift change because of having to care for my disabled wife, all of a sudden I have options that are unobtainable.

    The situation that has arisen is that my wife went to visit family and because of her disability needs my assistance upon return. We purposefully worked her arrival at the airport around my work schedule (the 3-11p shift) so that nothing needed to be switched. Now I am put on the overnight shift (11p -7am) and her plane lands at Midnight, right in the middle of the shift. I was told "your options are you work, or get a doctor's note stating that YOU are ill so you can't work...and if you don't do either you will be written up". Never mind the fact that the tickets were purchased over a month previous, and the schedule change was forced on me w/o warning.

    Legally do I have anything to stand on? I understand FL doesn't recognize the relational aspect, but in her medical records I am listed as the "in home caregiver" and I accompany her to all medical appointments. My job was aware of all this prior to hiring too. This on top of the harassment due to my orientation (which again in FL I know means nothing) but also the racial slurs.

    ANY advice would be greatly appreciated because I am at my wits end and about to be written up as I am not going to let my job come before the medical necessities of any person let alone my wife! Also, when it comes the the other employee being purposefully scheduled on shifts he specifically said he couldn't do due to a court mandated agreement, can he legally do something about that?

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and so it was so long. Another post said the more details you give, the better off you are at getting an answer.

  • #2
    The employer does not have to take personal responsibilities into account when creating a schedule. Even if you were hired for a particular schedule it can be changed as business needs dictate.

    The exception would be if the company (and youself) falls under FMLA. Then certain care of your wife may fail under that. However picking her up from the airport would not fall under FMLA.

    If the company relocated the employee who harassed you, they have stopped the harassment and that is all that is required by law. There is no law that says he has to be fired.

    If the employee has a permit to carry the gun then it is between the company and him as to whether he is breaking policy.


    • #3
      I'm not seeing anything you can do about the scheduling. The law does not say that you have to be given the schedule you want, or even the schedule you were initially hired for. The ADA does not require that you be given any kind of accomodation for a disabled family member - it only says that you cannot be discriminated against BECAUSE of a disabled family member. Just because your co-worker was previously able to do an overnight shift does not mean that they can do so in perpetuity; you don't know whether something in their condition changed. The fact of the matter is, the employer is not required to take an employee's personal situations into consideration. NO ONE wants to work overnight, but SOMEONE has to do it.

      IF the racial slurs are still going on, you can and should report them again to HR and if they still don't stop, you can take it to the EEOC. However, if they have stopped (it's not clear) then your employer has met their obligation. They are not required to fire the offender; relocating him is a perfectly legal way of handling the sitution.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


      • #4

        They can basically change the schedule and I just have to deal with it? The reason I have to help my wife is because she is physically disabled and can not drive. My company was aware of the need to pick her up as I told them with plenty notice. I told them the moment I got the tickets. When I was first hired I stated I could not do overnights because of wife's condition and they said that would not be a problem. It just seems to me that they are purposefully putting their workers in situations that make it so they have no choice but to resign. As for the other employee that did overnights before, he just said he didn't want to do them anymore and told them he wouldn't do it, no legitimate reason, it was just his personal preference. The racial slurs are still there as the worker still speaks with the other workers about me. When he is covering a shift at our site and I come in contact with him, I try to avoid at all cost. There are things said (as I am the only female there) that I feel are inappropriate, but out of fear of loosing my job I say nothing. These range from inappropriate language (cursing), talking about sexual encounters, asking about my sexual encounters (for these I politely say that is none of your business), even down to comments along the lines of "If you were not gay I would f*ck you and make you feel good". I have mentioned some of these to my supervisor, but nothing gets done. In fact one co-worker had a complaint from a guest for smoking and cursing and being inappropriate, and he was not reprimanded at fact I was told to keep my mouth shut about it and tell no one. It just seems like it is a little backwards there. I am currently searching for other employment.


        • #5
          Yes. They can change the schedule and with limited exceptions, you have to deal with it. They are NOT required to take your wife's disability into consideration when setting schedules.

          You can and should report the racial slurs to HR. Sexual orientation is not protected under Florida or Federal law so while again, you can and should report them, they are only REQUIRED to make the racial ones stop. It is possible, though, that some of what you've reported could qualify as sexual harassment and that is also illegal, so be sure to give HR specifics. If they fail to take action you can contact the EEOC.
          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


          • #6
            I might just mention that you can contact the EEOC (if it becomes necessary), if
            your employer has 15 or more employees. It sounds from your posts your employer
            probably does.
            Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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