Florida Dept. of Children and Families v. Shapiro

Florida Dept. of Children and Families v. Shapiro, 2011 WL 3111349 (Fla. 4th DCA, July 27, 2011) The Fourth DCA held it was error for the Trial Judge to deny the Employer’s Motion for Directed Verdict, on an ex-employee’s claims that she was subjected to a hostile work environment because of her race and religion, and terminated in retaliation for her grand jury testimony against a co-worker. The DCA held that the co-worker’s racial and religious comments were not sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of Plaintiff’s employment. The DCA also held it was error for the Trial Judge to deny the Employer’s Motion for Directed Verdict on claims that the Plaintiff’s administrator (the sole decision maker in the case) subjected Plaintiff to more severe disciplinary measures than those imposed on similar employees. The DCA noted that the comparable employees were subordinates while the Plaintiff was a supervisor; and the comparative employees’ conduct in illegally accessing child abuse reports was a less serious crime than the Medicaid fraud on which Plaintiff’s termination was based. Finally, the DCA held that the Trial Judge erred in denying the Employer’s Motion for Directed Verdict on Plaintiff’s whistleblower claim. The DCA held the Plaintiff failed to show a causal link between her grand jury testimony against a co-worker and her termination over five years later.