Florida ranked second in the country for harassment and discrimination in the workplace complaints.
In a report by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Florida had a total of 7,597 harassment and discrimination charges for 2013. That makes up about 8 percent of the total discrimination and harassment charges in the U.S. Texas snagged first place while California followed in third.
Overall, the U.S. received about 94,000 charges in 2013, which is about 6,000 fewer than in 2012.
The Network, a company that specializes in governance, risk and compliance solutions, analyzed the 2013 report and illustrated trends in discrimination and harassment charges in Florida in an infographic.
Of the total charges in Florida, about 33 percent were race charges, about 30 percent were sex charges, and 40 percent were retaliation charges.
Jimmy Lin, the vice president of product management and corporate development of The Network, said the most common harassment charges filed are retaliation, race and sex. He said the first step in combating charges is implementing solid codes of conduct in the workplace.
“Employees should be educated as to what counts as discrimination and/or harassment and how to appropriately respond to these situations should they arise in the workplace,” he wrote in an email.
Cecil Howard, the equal opportunity director for Gainesville’s Office of Equal Opportunity, said awareness is the top reason harassment charges are so high in Florida.
“Most people (in Florida) are aware of their rights to file complaints against employers, and certainly more are going to take advantage of that opportunity,” he said. “You basically have protection on three levels in Florida — local, state and federal — where in some states you may only have protection at the federal level.”
Though Florida is still ranked second in the nation for charges, the number of complaints has decreased by about 350 from 2012. In fact, since 2011, the number of complaints has declined by about 500 total complaints.
Lin credits the drop in complaints to extra efforts from employers on training programs and informing workers on how they can combat harassment.
“Instilling strong ethics in employees from day one is crucial in establishing an ethical workplace that’s free of harassment and discrimination,” Lin said.
[A version of this story ran on page 1 on 4/1/2014 under the headline "Florida ranks No. 2 in workplace harassment, discrimination"]