South Florida Fire Department Under EEOC Investigation

Snug in Florida’s deep south, Davie, Florida is a town known for its Western roots, featuring a western-themed amusement park, and more citizens with horses than you can shake a stick at. Davie’s population of about 92,000 is supported by five fire stations, nos. 38, 65, 68, 91 and 104. The hundred year old town, once an out of the way western paradise, is now hitting the news as the subject of allegations of Title VII discrimination at its fire department.
A Host of Discrimination Complaints
The discrimination claims appear not to be an isolated incident: 18 Title VII claims in total are allegedly under investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC (the EEOC does not publicly discuss or confirm whether complaints are being investigated). Ten of the 18 charging parties are being represented by two attorneys. The most damning complaint comes from a female firefighter who claims she was unfairly subjected to full duty during the first trimester of her pregnancy. This charging party is alleging that eight (8) days after fighting a fire with her colleagues, she miscarried.
An Alleged Culture of Sexism and Bigotry
The charges center on complaints of sexism and bigotry. The most publicized involve the above case of miscarriage, as well as the story of Linda Stokoe. Stokoe was a fire inspector for the city, but was allegedly fired due to sex discrimination. The former inspector claims she was ordered to keep records of her bathroom visits, and that women were generally believed by her peers to be unfit for firefighting. Another charge alleges discrimination against a Jewish American, who claims derogatory terms and slurs were used against him.
How Does Title VII Apply?
Title VII, as amended, directly prohibits discrimination in the workplace on account of gender, race and religion, among other protected categories. The complaints described against the Davie, Florida Fire Department include racial and gender slurs, preferential treatment, and statements (direct, not implied statements) that women and some minorities are unfit to serve in the Fire Department. Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was instituted, nearly every generation of EEOC leadership interpreting the Act has prohibited such treatment.
Is This Your Story?
If you feel that your race, gender, religion, national origin, disability or age have played an unnecessary role at your job, or even in your attempts to find work, then you may have a claim of discrimination. For further information and a free consultation, call the law offices of Valli, Kane & Vagnini today.

Censoring your Social Media Page for Employment

Companies are using social media websites as an information gateway in hiring and monitoring employee behavior.  Sites like Facebook and Twitter are influential in the hiring process for employers, and can also result in termination if they see information that is not “appropriate employee behavior.”  Employers monitor social networking sites for provocative or inappropriate photos, drinking and drug use, bad-mouthing coworkers and much more.  They even measure your communication and creativity skills from monitoring your social networking sites.
While we all use our social networking sites to display information regarding our private life for friends and family, employers fear that proprietary information will be revealed over the web and they will be negatively represented in the online world.  If you are looking for a job or currently employed, follow this list of Do’s and Don’ts to clean up your page and remain in the safety zone of social media.

  1. DO delete or hide anything on your profile that employers may view negatively.  Remove pictures of spring break, vulgar comments or posts, rude language, and any commentary you may have posted about previous employers.  Remember there is no sense of “free speech” that is regulated in social media.  We’ve all heard the recent stories of New York teachers being fired for their online commentary of unruly classrooms and scandalous private lives.  It can happen to anyone, so keep your private thoughts and comments about your job to yourself.
  2. DON’T use social networking sites to vent about your job.  While you may need to talk about an overpowering boss or an arrogant coworker, never do it online.  While you may think your page is private, a coworker that you forgot you “friended” could take the page directly to your employer.  What you say online is permanent and is valid evidence that can be used against you in court and certainly by your employer or prospective employer.
  3. DO promote yourself socially and professionally online.  Update your pages to show your creativity and work ethic.  Write about accomplishments that you have made inside and outside of work.  Include your interests and passions and your goals.
  4. DON’T post anything that could be incompatible with your work persona.  For example, if you claim a disability or injury that alters your job responsibilities, refrain from posting pictures of you partaking in physical exercise.  If you are claiming worker’s compensation, investigators will often look at your social media sites to ensure that they are consistent with your claims.  An employer cannot discriminate against you because of disabilities, but you can be terminated if they unveil inconsistencies within your social media pages.