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Is Florida's teacher salary bonus system discriminatory?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is investigating Florida's teacher salary bonus system -- also known as the Florida Department of Education Best and Brightest Scholarship -- to determine if the program discriminates against certain employees. The program is intended to offer an $8,200 bonus reward to certain teachers who excel at their jobs. However, what is being called into question relating to the bonus system is the program's definition of "schoolteacher."

Earlier in June, an administrative law judge ruled that a school speech pathologist in Sarasota County should be able to receive bonus money from the program. The administrative law judge said that the speech pathologist should not be excluded from the program based on the pathologist's job description. While arguing that she should receive the bonus, the speech pathologist further claimed that the bonus system is discriminatory against Hispanic and black educators.

According to one attorney who filed a claim on behalf of the Florida Education Association teacher's union, the program discriminates against certain teachers because it relies on standardized SAT and ACT test scores -- which have been shown to give non-minorities an advantage. The attorney said that he wanted the EEOC to look into the matter, but he is not certain they will make a decision for teachers. Meanwhile, an EEOC spokesman said that he is not permitted to talk about claims received by his organization.

Although it is hard to fathom, workplace discrimination is still a problem for many individuals. Discrimination related to sexual orientation, race, age, religion, national origin, sex and more is quite common throughout Florida. If you have been hurt by workplace discrimination, know that the law is on your side and you may be able to pursue legal action in court.

Source: Tallahassee Democrat, "EEOC looking into Florida teacher bonus program," Arek Sarkissian, June 27, 2016

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