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Donna Marie Ballman
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Donna Ballman’s Answers

78 total


  • Receiving a copy of a write up from employer

    My friend was written up and fired. She was a contract security officer working on a government contract. She ask for a copy of her write up and was told by management in order for her to get a copy of her write she would have to go through the "...

    Donna’s Answer

    There's no requirement a private employer give any documentation. However, if it's government or if government has the records, you can get these documents. If it's federal government, the Freedom of Information Act entitles you to the information. If it's state or local government in Florida, then the Sunshine Act requires they provide copies of these records. I hope this helps!

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  • I have been asked by my employer to quit my job - due to a picture of me with another employee.

    There was a picture taken on my birthday when I was out with people of me and another employee, my GM said I was dating him, and that it is not allowed and said I have 3 options. I quit, he quits or I stop dating him. I told him I wouldn't quit th...

    Donna’s Answer

    I wouldn't suggest quitting unless they offer you some severance or other compensation as an incentive. Otherwise, you have about zero upside and they might even argue against your unemployment if you do. Are they pressuring the male to quit, or just you? This may be a sex discrimination issue. If they fire you and not him, then you might have a discrimination claim. Of course, if they are giving you the option to stop dating him, then you can save yourself trouble if you simply stop dating him.

    Florida is an at-will state, which means an employer may fire, demote, hire, promote and discipline employees for pretty much any reason, or no reason at all. The only way to change that is to urge your state legislators to pass more protections for employees.

    That doesn’t mean there are no protections for employees. You should ask yourself the following questions to see if you might be covered under some employment law:

    Did my supervisors make any comments indicating bias? If your supervisor made sexist jokes, said they thought women should be married and not working, or made other comments that would indicate a bias, you may have direct evidence of discrimination.

    Was I treated differently than others in the same situation? If you don’t have direct evidence of discrimination, you may be able demonstrate you were treated differently than those of a different race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or other protected status under the same circumstances. Try to think of people who are of a different race/age/sex, etc. and were treated differently from you. Find out if there are people who have also been the victims of similar discrimination. Has anyone else dated in the workplace? What happened to them?

    Why was I really fired? Most employees have a pretty good idea why they were fired. If you made a worker’s compensation claim and were fired a week later, that’s a good indication you were fired in retaliation for making the claim. If you reported your supervisor for Medicare fraud, and then the supervisor fires you, you may have a whistleblower claim.

    Am I in some protected category? If you were fired after you took some protected action, you may be able to sue for retaliation. Think about whether you recently made a worker’s compensation claim, performed jury duty, served in the military, took family/medical leave, served as a witness in a lawsuit, provided testimony or evidence to EEOC, refused to participate in illegal activity, or reported illegal activity. That might explain why they are singling you out on this issue.

    If you believe something illegal has happened, contact an attorney to discuss the possibility that you may have a case.

    What if I don’t think something illegal happened? Even if nothing illegal happened, many employers will discuss a severance agreement with an employment attorney hired to negotiate with them. As an attorney who has been practicing since 1986 in employment law, I find that sometimes an amicable transition is the best way for both employer and employee to move on in a positive direction. If you are offered a severance package, it is best to have an attorney review it prior to signing. Many employment attorneys will work to negotiate a better package for you.

    The best course of action when terminated, particularly where you believe there was no just cause, is to contact an attorney who handles employment law to discuss your options.

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  • What are my rights?

    I have been working for this company for well over 3 years now. I have never been late or called in. My district manager has an issue with me. He has always wrote me up for frivilous things that he claims, I should have taken care of when they cle...

    Donna’s Answer

    It certainly sounds like you have a potential race/national origin discrimination claim. You'll want to contact an employment attorney to discuss your rights and options. Just as a heads up, you only have 300 days to file with EEOC, and filing with them is a prerequisite to filing suit for discrimination, so you'll want to contact an attorney ASAP.

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  • Been at a job for 6 years they say that i didnt punch for lunch

    I went on a 15min break so i didnt have to punch and they said that i took longer then that. They can not find me leaveing the store. I was in the store the date they are talking about i dont recall takeing a break. I really dont take breaks and i...

    Donna’s Answer

    You’ve been fired or disciplined without justification. You want to sue for wrongful termination. If you lived in New Jersey, California, or some other states, your employer would need to have cause to fire you. Not so in Florida. Florida is an at-will state, which means an employer may fire, demote, hire, promote and discipline employees for pretty much any reason, or no reason at all. The only way to change that is to urge your state legislators to pass more protections for employees.

    That doesn’t mean there are no protections for employees. You should ask yourself the following questions to see if you might be covered under some employment law:

    Did my supervisors make any comments indicating bias? If your supervisor made racist or sexist jokes, said they thought you were too old or your disability made you unable to do the job, required you to work on religious holidays, or made other comments that would indicate a bias, you may have direct evidence of discrimination.

    Was I treated differently than others in the same situation? If you don’t have direct evidence of discrimination, you may be able demonstrate you were treated differently than those of a different race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or other protected status under the same circumstances. Try to think of people who are of a different race/age/sex, etc. and were treated differently from you. Find out if there are people who have also been the victims of similar discrimination.

    Why was I really fired? Most employees have a pretty good idea why they were fired. If you made a worker’s compensation claim and were fired a week later, that’s a good indication you were fired in retaliation for making the claim. If you reported your supervisor for Medicare fraud, and then the supervisor fires you, you may have a whistleblower claim.

    Is my employer saying something false about me? If potential employers tell you are going to be hired if your references check out, and then the job is mysteriously filled when you call back, your employer may be giving false or damaging information about you. There are professional reference-checking companies who will call for you and see what an employer is saying about you. If you can prove it’s false, you may be able to sue for defamation.

    Am I in some protected category? If you were fired after you took some protected action, you may be able to sue for retaliation. Think about whether you recently made a worker’s compensation claim, performed jury duty, served in the military, took family/medical leave, served as a witness in a lawsuit, provided testimony or evidence to EEOC, refused to participate in illegal activity, reported illegal activity, or engaged in protected free speech.

    If you believe something illegal has happened, contact an attorney to discuss the possibility that you may have a case.

    What if I don’t think something illegal happened? Even if nothing illegal happened, many employers will discuss a severance agreement with an employment attorney hired to negotiate with them. As an attorney who has been practicing since 1986 in employment law, I find that sometimes an amicable transition is the best way for both employer and employee to move on in a positive direction. If you are offered a severance package, it is best to have an attorney review it prior to signing. Many employment attorneys will work to negotiate a better package for you.

    The best course of action when terminated, particularly where you believe there was no just cause, is to contact an attorney who handles employment law to discuss your options.

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  • Is this legal? Is this a Whistleblower violation?

    I recently had corporate employees along with my district manager come to my store. I had a conversation with my district managers boss regarding what was I felt was him being unfair and him making up "new policies" on the spot just to get employe...

    Donna’s Answer

    There are few categories of wrongful termination in Florida, but think about these questions to see if you are a whistleblower under Florida’s private whistleblower law.

    1. Have you recently objected to any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation?

    Unlike many whistleblower protections, your objection doesn’t have to be in writing in Florida. But an objection to a breach of the employer’s policies, or to an ethical violation, is not protected. While venting about the workplace being unfair may be satisfying, it can get you fired.

    The objection has to be to an activity, policy or practice of the employer. If you object to a coworker stealing from the company, it’s not protected. What would be protected is objection to failure to pay overtime, discrimination based on a protected category (race, age, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, disability, color and, in a couple of counties, sexual orientation), safety violations governed by OSHA, or any other legal violation. Statutes, government regulations, and county/city ordinances would fall in this category.

    Even though the objection doesn’t need to be in writing, I suggest you put it in writing so the employer can’t deny you made the objection later.

    2. Have you recently refused to participate in any activity, policy, or practice of the employer which is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation?

    The analysis is about the same as number one. If the employer asks you to do something actually illegal, you can refuse and you are protected. But I still suggest you put your refusal in writing.

    3. Have you recently disclosed, or threatened to disclose, to any appropriate governmental agency, under oath, in writing, an activity, policy, or practice of the employer that is in violation of a law, rule, or regulation?

    This protection does not apply unless you have, in writing, brought the activity, policy, or practice to the attention of a supervisor or the employer and have given the employer a reasonable opportunity to correct the activity, policy, or practice. Because the statutory language is so convoluted, few employees fit in this category.

    Examples would be making a formal written complaint of discrimination based on, say, sex. The formal complaint would say that, if the situation is not promptly resolved, you intend to file a charge of discrimination with EEOC. Then you could invoke this provision after giving them time to fix the situation. But it’s way easier to fit within the “objection” category, which doesn’t have to be nearly as specific.

    4. Have you recently provided information to, or testified before, any appropriate governmental agency, person, or entity conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into an alleged violation of a law, rule, or regulation by the employer?

    This category applies to people who give information to the police, unemployment, EEOC, OSHA, a legislative body, or other entity actually doing an investigation of an illegal practice. If you fit in this category, you are also protected if you were subpoenaed to testify by a statute prohibiting employer retaliation for testimony under subpoena.

    5. If you fit within any of these categories, does your employer have ten or more employees?

    The Florida Whistleblower Act only applies to employers with ten or more employees. Unfortunately, few statutes protect employees who work for small employers.

    While you’ve probably heard lots about federal whistleblower laws, those can be complicated and difficult to enforce. The Florida Whistleblower Act is one of those rare employment laws that is pretty simply drawn. If you’ve been fired shortly after objecting to or refusing to participate in an illegal activity, you may well be a protected whistleblower in Florida. This sounds like you didn't object to anything illegal though. If you're fired, your best bet may be to contact an employment attorney to get advice.

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  • What is a past employer legally allowed to disclose to a potential future employer other than verify that you were an employee?

    Are past employers in Florida allowed to disclose if you filed any claims or the reason for your termination? I know they can say if they would rehire you or not, but is there more that a past employer can legally disclose?

    Donna’s Answer

    In general, employers in Florida are protected from a lawsuit if they give truthful information in references. Some employers only give neutral references, that is, dates of employment and job title. If a former employer says something deliberately false, such as telling a potential employer you were fired for theft, they may be liable for defamation of character. They can't legally give out medical information. And if they disclose that you filed with EEOC, as an example, they may have some liability for retaliation. I hope this helps!

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  • Is an employment contract enforceable if they do not have the original signed copy

    I have signed an employment contract with my previous employer but they never signed it. I am now in possession of the original contract that I have signed and wondered if a copy of the contract is good enough to make it enforceable. I have a non...

    Donna’s Answer

    Unfortunately for you, the court will probably allow the employer to introduce the copy as evidence of the agreement. However, you may well have other defenses to the enforcement of your non-compete agreement. You'll probably want to have an employment attorney review the agreement with you to discuss your options.

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  • Can an employer refuse to pay an employee for lack of funds?

    I work at a church and they just told us that we are not getting paid bc there's not enough money.

    Donna’s Answer

    The employer is responsible for paying you for all hours worked. You may want to take them to small claims court if they refuse to pay. They should not allow you to work if they don't have the funds to pay you.

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  • Can a previous employer blacklist your name and/or social security number? Is this legal? I was terminated and filed a complaint

    Can your name and or social security number be blackballed? Is this legal? How can I find out about this?

    Donna’s Answer

    It's illegal for an employer to retaliate against you for being a whistleblower, making a discrimination complaint, making a worker's compensation claim, and many other types of claims. Further, it's illegal for anyone in Florida to conspire to keep you from becoming employed under certain circumstances (which is actually a criminal violation, and I've never seen anyone prosecuted for this, but the law is on the books). However, an employer is protected from suit if they give a truthful reference. An employer can also mark you internally as ineligible for rehire. I'm not sure if this is what you were referring to, but I hope this helps!

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  • Is it illegal to deny employment due to bankruptcy in florida

    Possible employment denial in the law enforcement filed due to a past bankruptcy

    Donna’s Answer

    The bankruptcy code protects employers from discriminating solely because of bankruptcy. Unfortunately, because there may be other reasons given, it can be quite hard to prove that the sole reason was a bankruptcy filing. If this is the reason given, you may want to confirm in writing with the employer that they declined to hire because of the bankruptcy. Sometimes employers are unaware that this type of discrimination is illegal. If an employer starts to make noises about having a problem with the bankruptcy, a gentle reminder to them that it's illegal to discriminate based on bankruptcy may help prevent this. I hope this helps. Good luck with the job!

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