Tallahassee, FL -- (SBWIRE) -- 02/26/2014 -- In Florida the state agency that handles all discrimination cases is called the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). This is the state level version of the EEOC Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. This is a very small agency most people do not know about and only learn of its existence when they attempt to file a discrimination lawsuit against their employer. Under Florida law, the only way one can file a discrimination lawsuit is by first going through the FCHR and having them “investigate” the complaint. The FCHR is a sub agency under the Department of Management Service DMS. What this essentially does is provide an umbrella of protection on the FCHR with zero oversight or supervision by the DMS.
The yearly goal of the FCHR currently controlled by Michelle Wilson is to stay under the radar of detection just enough to continue to receive small budget increases to raise the salary and discretionary funds of the upper management. In order to accomplish this they recruit the employees only some of whom are college educated to petition lobbyist in an attempt to show that the FCHR is a necessary agency worthy of budget funds.
An individual is legally unable to sue a business or employer for discrimination without the FCHR investigating the incident and agreeing that discrimination took place. How the investigation takes place and what is asked or requested is completely up to the individual investigator who may or may not have attended college. There are no specific criteria other than vague guidelines which are only an extremely broad overview of how an investigation should be. If the investigator believes that no discrimination took place then the individual has zero legal ability to sue the business.
Now Florida’s Unemployment Agency guidelines state that an investigator “must liberally construe the facts in the claimants favor” meaning that most cases would result in the claimant winning the case. The FCHR has no such policy other than the main purpose should be to protect Florida businesses from discrimination lawsuits. What this means is that the FCHR is a buffer of protection for businesses to protect them from losing money and possibly wanting to move out of Florida. This protects Florida’s economy and also provides the illusion of determine if someone was discriminated against or not.
The FCHR have 180 days to investigate a case because after 120 days the claimant has the legal right to either continue with the investigation or then magically is allowed to sue the business. 99 out of 100 cases are completed well under the time limit regardless of if all the information which would be required to determine legitimate discrimination has been provided or not. The investigators must be extremely creative with their reasoning or have their supervisor assist in creating a plausible scenario as to why the case is not considered discrimination.
If the investigator has resulted in the wrong conclusion, such as determining the claimant was a victim of discrimination, there are no less than four other people who must review the case before it is finally submitted for completion. Three of those employees sole job is to review the cases and come up with “creative” ways to disqualify someone. The investigator must give the case to his supervisor to review. The supervisor then can modify any part of the case including the outcome without notifying the investigator. After the supervisor is finished the case then goes through two attorneys for review and then finally signed off by Michelle Wilson herself. By this point the investigation has been spun and creatively written that the claimant has no recourse and must suffer the fact they were discriminated against. That is if the claimant was even allowed t file a complaint. In Florida for an employer to even qualify for being considered an “employer” by the FCHR they must have at least 15 employees. So the thousands of small business can basically do what they want with no chance they will lose money due to a discrimination lawsuit.
What this also means is that at the FCHR a total of five employees review a single case before it is completed. Florida’s unemployment agency the DEO Department of Economic opportunity employs educated hearing officers and only requires one person to investigate and complete a case before it is submitted as concluded.
The required political climate at the FCHR is that employees must be extremely liberal minded. This is perfect so that the employees will not think to question what they are told and do not pay attention to the fact that the only people they are protecting are Florida businesses.
Most Florida agencies who conduct business do so over the phone because it is not economically efficient to drive or fly to a location to speak to someone. The FCHR does not see it this way and encourages its investigators to drive anywhere necessary to interview someone. This not only influences investigators and reinforces the idea that claimants are simply looking to make money or making up their claim but wastes a considerable amount of money. Employees also must travel out of town for training and stay at lavish hotels which cost over $100 per night. This is training that could either be conducted online or in house with the exact same material and outcome.
The budget that is given to the agency only goes to raise the salary of those in the top positions and just enough equipment to keep the attorneys appeased. The other employees are forced to use accident computer systems and phone lines with constant errors and problems plaguing them.
Management of FCHR basically must beg the lobbyists and senators each year not to dismantle the agency so they can keep their job of doing as little as possible until they are offered a more prestigious employment with a much higher salary.
The FCHR could and should be completely transferred back to the DMS. Florida’s unemployment agency computerized much of the information and requirements used in processing initial unemployment applications, submissions, and hearing information. They did this without affecting the outcome on the claimants who were applying for unemployment. What this did was eliminate many unnecessary positions in which the work was manually done when the computer can process much more at a faster rate with much higher efficiency and quality.
So as one can see Florida certainly has figured out a way to stop business and employment discrimination just not in the way one thought it would or how it should be. Florida should immediately dismantle the FCHR and investigate the agency itself for criminal wrongdoing and create a functional agency with significant oversight since discrimination is such a sensitive issue that should not be taken lightly nor should sides be taken simply because someone in the political arena does not want to lose their donations from the businesses they protect by “modifying” how the laws are interpreted.
For more information on the website if you feel you were fired due to discrimination and unemployment help:
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Contact info: Mike Wolf , 719-387-1384
Tallahassee Fl 32301