Monthly Archives: June 2015

What is at-will employment?

By 18/06/2015 Posted in FAQs, FLSA, Labor Law, Retaliation, Whistleblower Law, Workplace Discrimination Law

In Florida, an at-will employee is one whose employment has no specified term and who may be terminated at the will of either party, with or without cause and with or without notice. However, an employer is not permitted to terminate an employee in violation of a state or federal statute, such as: retaliation, discrimination, or whistle blowing.

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Florida Employment Laws

By 04/06/2015 Posted in Labor Law, Whistleblower Law

Florida and federal laws govern the rights and obligations of workers and employers in the state. Several Florida laws codify federal regulations. However, conflicts in the statutes can create confusion about which law applies to a given employment circumstance. When a dispute arises, a litigant may consider whether the state or federal forum is most favorable.

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About the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

By 04/06/2015 Posted in ADA, Disability Discrimination, FMLA, Workplace Discrimination Law

Discrimination and Accommodations Policies in the Workplace Enacted in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) grants people with disabilities rights to fair housing, education, public transportation, public accommodations, telecommunications and employment. Businesses are prohibited from discriminating against individuals with disabilities and must make reasonable accommodations for recruits and workers. ADA covers businesses, organizations and government agencies that employ 15 or more workers, labor unions and employment agencies. Definition of Disability Under the ADA To qualify for ADA protection, the worker must have a medical condition that meets the definition of “disability,” including: A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities A history of a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities Regarded as having a disability by others Because the ADA does not specifically name impairments that are covered by the legislation, the line as to what constitutes a disability can sometimes be up for debate. The main factor is whether the medical condition places substantial limitations on a major life activity. Discriminatory Conduct Businesses are prohibited from discriminating against workers with disabilities when making employment decisions, such as: Recruitment and hiring Termination Wages Benefits, including health and retirement Training opportunities Work conditions Shifts, projects or assignments In addition, businesses are responsible for harassment of individuals with disabilities and must respond to grievances and take action to stop harassment and discrimination by coworkers, supervisors and clients. Reasonable Accommodations The cornerstone of the ADA is the reasonable accommodation […]

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About the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

By 04/06/2015 Posted in FMLA, Labor Law

Time Off for Medical and Family Matters The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) was enacted in 1993 to provide certain employees with the right to take time off to obtain medical treatment, give birth or care for a sick loved one. During the leave period, the worker’s job is protected and the employer is required to maintain the employee’s health insurance under the same terms as if he or she were continually employed. The FMLA statute is intended to help employees appropriately balance work and family life. FMLA Worker Eligibility To be eligible for FMLA benefits, a worker must have been employed by the covered employer for at least 12 months, which do not have to be consecutive, and have performed at least 1,150 hours of work for the employer within the immediately preceding 12 months. The FMLA permits eligible workers of covered employers to take unpaid, protected leave for up to 12 workweeks within a 12 months period to: Give birth and to care for the newborn baby Adopt or foster a child and to take care of him or her Care for a spouse, child or parent who has a serious injury or illness Take medical leave associated with the worker’s serious medical condition Deal with an emergency arising out of active military duty of the employee’s spouse, child or parent In addition, the FMLA provides for military caregiver leave, which entitles the worker to up to 26 workweeks of leave within a 12-month period to care for a sick or […]

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Civil Rights Act & Discrimination

By 04/06/2015 Posted in Disability Discrimination, Labor Law, Pregnancy Discrimination, Retaliation, Workplace Discrimination Law

The Foundation of Anti-Discrimination Laws Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of their inclusion in a protected class. This landmark legislation is the foundation for anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws in the workplace. Title VII generally applies to businesses and organizations that employ 15 or more workers, labor unions, employment agencies and local, state and federal governments. Protected Classes Since the law was enacted, more than 50 years ago, amendments have expanded the reach of the Civil Rights Act to additional protected classes. For example, genetic information is a new class that has recently been added to the protected classes of race, gender, pregnancy, national origin, religion, disability and age. An employer who has a connection to a protected class, such as through marriage or membership in an organization, may also be protected under the Act. The impression of being in a class may also be enough to trigger protection. Discriminatory Employment Decisions A business is not permitted to consider a worker’s inclusion in a class when it makes such employment-related decisions as: Recruitment and hiring Firing or layoff Compensation Promotion or transfer Shifts or assignments Benefits package Training An employer may be considered in violation of the Civil Rights Act for policies that have no legitimate business purpose and cause a discriminatory result. For instance, requiring workers to wear a skirt as their only uniform option would tend to discriminate against men. Similarly, designating the auto repair department […]

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By 04/06/2015 Posted in FLSA, Labor Law, Overtime Law, Overtime and Unpaid Wages

About the Fair Labor Standards Act Wage and Hour Laws The Fair Labor Standards Act was enacted more than 75 years ago to establish workplace hours, wages and child labor standards in the United States. The FLSA sets the federal minimum wage, which is updated periodically by legislative action, and determines what is considered compensable hours of work. In addition, the statute contains a variety of exceptions to minimum wage, overtime pay rights and the hours that constitute a workweek. Minimum Wage and Overtime Pay The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.05, which prevails because it is more than the federal amount. Businesses are permitted to pay their tipped employees $5.03 per hour and take a tip credit of $3.02. In most circumstances, employees are subject to a 40-hour workweek. Businesses must pay employees at a rate of time plus time and one-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Businesses are not required to pay extra for holidays or weekends unless the employee is working overtime on those days. Exceptions exist for certain types of occupations, such as first responders, military servicemembers, nurses, construction workers, technicians and certain blue-collar workers. In addition, executives, professionals, administrators, computer-related occupations and outside sales representatives are not subject to the overtime requirements. For this reason, correct classification is crucial. Compensable Hours Determining which hours are considered work is not always straightforward. The FLSA provides some guidance, but a business must also adhere to its own […]

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Florida Whistleblower Laws

By 04/06/2015 Posted in Articles, Retaliation, Whistleblower Law, Wrongful Termination Law

About Florida Whistleblower Laws Insights into Whistleblower Rights and Obligations Employees are in a unique position to know what is happening at a business. For this reason, the government encourages employees who have information about wrongdoing to come forward. In some cases whistleblowers are entitled to money a government agency recovers because of information the employee provided. In all cases of legitimate whistleblowing, the employee is protected from retaliation. Whistleblower protection does not grant an employee immunity from legitimate negative consequences, but only those related to the whistleblowing. However, businesses should be careful to document the reasons for firing an employee who is considered a whistleblower under Florida or federal law. Whistleblowing on a Private Employer An employee is protected against retaliation for reporting acts of harassment, discrimination or wage and hours violations under the Florida and federal whistleblower laws. An employer cannot make an adverse job-related decision, such as termination, demotion, pay-cut, transfer to an undesirable shift, rejection of leave requests or other action in retribution for the employee’s filing of a grievance complaint or cooperation with an investigation. Florida WhistleBlower’s Act The Florida Whistle-Blower’s Act, codified in Florida Statute §112.3187, protects Florida state employees and contractors from retaliation for exposing gross waste of funds, neglect of duty, mismanagement or legal violations that endanger the public’s health, safety or welfare. A designated whistleblower hotline allows the person reporting the wrongdoing to keep his or her identity confidential, unless disclosure becomes necessary during the investigation. However, the agency is barred from retaliating […]

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About Florida Non-Compete Agreements

By 04/06/2015 Posted in Articles, Contract Law, Non-Compete Law

What You Need to Know In the past, non-compete agreements were reserved for high-level executives and professionals who had access to trade secrets and specialized, often expensive, training. Increasingly, however, businesses are asking employees at all levels to sign contracts that restrict their future employment. Hairstylists, tattoo artists, mid-level sales reps and computer technicians now regularly agree to give up future opportunities as a condition of current employment and many are surprised when they realize they cannot accept a job after they leave their current position. On the other side, businesses should understand the nature and extent of restrictions they are permitted to impose, because an overly broad non-compete agreement is unenforceable. An Enforceable Non-Compete Under Florida Laws A non-compete agreement is not intended to thwart competition, but rather to preserve the business’s competitive edge. An enforceable non-compete protects a business’s investment in its employees and keeps crucial information out of the hands of its competitors. Florida Statutes §542.335 requires a valid non-compete contract to be reasonable in time, area and line of business; in writing and signed by the employee, and; justified by a legitimate business interest. The statute even provides some examples of what constitutes a legitimate business interest: Trade secrets as defined by Florida Statute §688.002(4) Other valuable confidential information that does not qualify as a trade secret Potential or existing relationships with customers, patients or clients Goodwill associated with trademark, trade name, service mark or trade dress Goodwill associated with geographic location or marketing or trade […]

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