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Category: News

GunterFirm obtains $1 Million sexual harassment settlement for restaurant server – victim refuses to sign NDA

By 05/07/2018 Posted in News, GunterFirm News, Sexual Harassment Law

In October 2015, Whitney began working part-time as restaurant server to supplement her family’s income. In February 2016, she was the victim of severe sexual harassment by a supervisor who, unknown to her, had a history of sexually harassing female servers. In September 2016, attorneys Jason Gunter and Conor Foley filed a lawsuit against the employer for sexual harassment and negligent retention. The defense in a sexual harassment case is frequently to blame the victim and this case was no exception. Our firm prepared Whitney for this defense and she had the courage to engage in litigation. Over the next year, the defendant employer sought invasive discovery including more than three years of Facebook and other social media posts, text messages, and photographs of the victim. The employer also contended that it had a sexual harassment policy in place to prevent harassment and that it had acted reasonably. Attorney Gunter went on the offensive and took numerous depositions of employees and management, and subpoenaed personnel files and emails. It was discovered that the harasser had previously harassed other female servers who had complained to management. A jury trial was set for July 2018. Shortly before trial, the employer agreed to a settlement of $1 Million rather than face the risk of a jury trial. Whitney refused to sign a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) so that her story could be shared with the hope that other sexual harassment victims will have the courage to come forward. Jason Gunter, Esq. Conor Foley, Esq.

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Hurricane Irma: What’s legal isn’t always good for business

By 08/09/2017 Posted in News, Labor Law

  GunterFirm has received several calls from individuals, companies and the media regarding employee rights if terminated as a result of an absence while preparing for Hurricane Irma. Under Florida law, there is no “legal” claim for “wrongful termination” if an employee is terminated for failing to report to work during the hurricane. There is no exception to Florida’s “employment at will” doctrine for terminating an employee who does not report to work before, during, or after a hurricane or any other natural disaster. This includes terminations that occur during a state of emergency, a voluntary evacuation or even a mandatory evacuation. This applies to public sector employees as well as private sector employees. All emergency personnel and healthcare providers at hospitals are generally under an affirmative duty to report, and plans for emergency personnel and healthcare providers are generally known and made in advance. GunterFirm is advising our clients not to terminate employees or take other adverse actions due to hurricane related absences. Although legally permissible, such terminations are perceived as morally reprehensible and can cause serious harm to the company’s image. These terminations may result in immediate negative media exposure, including negative social media campaigns and negative online reviews. Both employers and employees should take a deep breath and take into consideration each other’s needs. Employers who provide nonessential services to the public should exercise great caution before putting profits above employee safety and well-being. Likewise, employees should make all efforts to cooperate with employers to ensure that […]

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Linda McMahon to head SBA

By 12/12/2016 Posted in News, Labor Law, Small business

President Elect Trump made several news-worthy selections to head governmental agencies over the past week. One selection in particular should stand out to Southwest Florida employers and entrepreneurs. That is, the selection of Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration (“SBA”). The SBA was founded in 1953 and provides small business loans, loan guarantees, and small business counseling to help bolster small businesses, including those throughout Florida. If you own your own business in Fort Myers or Naples, or if you are an entrepreneur that has sought funding to launch your new idea, it is likely you are well aware of the useful resources the SBA provides. McMahon is the co-founder and former CEO of the well-known wrestling behemoth, WWE. This appointment shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to those who are familiar with McMahon’s history and political aspirations. She previously ran, albeit unsuccessfully, for US Senate in 2010. Additionally, President-Elect Trump’s ties to the WWE are also well noted. In fact, Trump made regular appearances on the WWE’s various programs throughout the years, including a few dust ups in the ring. Trump seems to be taking care of those that he has identified as loyal followers, and folks that did not waver in their support during the tumultuous campaign. It has been reported that McMahon donated $7 million, including $1 million in the closing days before the election. McMahon is the third consecutive woman to be nominated to this post following in the footsteps of President Obama’s nominees […]

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Whistleblowers Reinstated and Vindicated

By 17/11/2015 Posted in News, Whistleblower Law

Former Lee County Animal Services employees Glenn Johnson and Donna Ward, were reinstated to there job positions with Lee County in a huge victory in their whistleblowers case for wrongful termination. Lee County Circuit Court Judge Elizabeth Krier ruled in an 8-page Order that both Donna Ward and Glenn Johnson, former animal services employees, were in fact whistleblowers and had engaged in protected activity under Florida’s Public Sector Whistleblower Statute. Specifically, the court found that numerous disclosures to Assistant County Manager Christine Brady could be construed as violations of local, state, or federal laws rules or regulations. The court further found that the employees were terminated only two weeks after sending emails with disclosures to Lee County Commissioners.  Lee County’s attorneys asserted that Ward and Johnson were terminated for reasons unrelated to their whistleblower activities. However, the court rejected these reasons finding that it was not convinced by the county’s alleged reasons for the termination. The legal victory is significant for the Plaintiffs, who will be immediately returned to their positions with the County pending the outcome of trial in the matter. The Court set the stage for a full-blown jury trial where a Lee County jury will ultimately determine the issue. If the plaintiffs prevail, the damages and attorney’s fees will likely be significant. Order Granting Reinstatement <—- Link to Judicial Order  

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How Employers Avoid Paying Overtime

By 24/03/2014 Posted in News, Overtime Law

Employers Often Improperly Label Employees as “Managers” to Avoid Paying Overtime Employers often classify employees as “Managers” or “Supervisors” with the thought that simply by applying these titles to an employee they can wash their hands of any obligation to pay overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a given week and cheat their workers out of wages to which they are entitled. As an employee you should be armed with the facts as to what is required under the existing overtime laws to be considered a “Manager” who is exempt from overtime pay. The Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) uses several tests to define the “Managerial Exemption” in order to tell if an employee is truly considered a Manager under the law, or are misclassified and is entitled to overtime pay. To determine if you are truly a Manager who is exempt from receiving overtime pay, ask yourself the following questions: Do I earn a salary greater than $455 per work week? Is my primary job duty to manage other employees for the entire company, or to manage employees within a department or subdivision of the company? Do I regularly direct the work of 2 or more people? Do I have the authority to hire or fire other employees , or are my recommendations to hire and fire employees taken into consideration by those that make such decisions?   If you have the title of “Manager” and your answer to one or more of the above questions is […]

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Adam, Steve…You’re Fired!

By 27/06/2013 Posted in News, Workplace Discrimination Law

How will the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) impact employment laws? Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, sex, age, national origin, disability etc. Notice anything missing? Currently, there is no Federal Law or Florida State Law that prohibits discrimination in the terms and conditions of employment based on sexual orientation. So, at least in the private sector, an employee could be terminated simply because of their sexual orientation and there would be no legal recourse. This is unacceptable and employers should now be proactive and add “sexual orientation” to their current policies even before the federal or state legislatures amend Title VII or enact new laws to prohibit sexual orientation discrimination. Employers should be proactive and voluntarily implement in-house policies that prohibit any discrimination including sexual orientation because it benefits the company to treat all employees equally and foster a forward thinking employment environment of individual acceptance.

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Jason Gunter Settles Whistleblower case with Lee County for $500,000

By 17/05/2013 Posted in News, Whistleblower Law, Wrongful Termination Law

Jason Gunter settled a Public Sector Whistleblower case against the Lee County Government on behalf of his 7 clients. The settlement was approved by the Lee County Board of County Commissioners on March 5, 2013 as Lee County agreed to settle the Florida Public Sector Whistleblower case for nearly $500,000 damages in favor of Mr. Gunter’s clients. Mr. Gunter represented 7 clients who were wrongfully terminated in retaliation for participating in a government investigation regarding Lee County employees performing non-county work on county time. Mr. Gunter was pleased with the result on behalf of his clients, who, as he stated, “never should have lost their jobs to begin with.” Naples Daily News story link: http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2013/mar/05/commissioners-agree-nearly-500000-settlement-whist/ If you have any questions about Florida’s Whistleblower laws, or Federal Whistleblower laws, or think you have been fired for blowing the whistle, call Jason Gunter at 239.334.7017 or e-mail jason@gunterfirm.com to see if you have an actionable case.

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Supreme Court Declines Class Action Status for WalMart Discrimination

By 12/07/2011 Posted in News, Workplace Discrimination Law

In a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court recently ruled that a discrimination class action lawsuit brought by female employees of WalMart alleging unequal pay to male counterparts could not continue as single, national class. The decision stated that although a group of female employees could pursue legal action against individual stores or regions, they could not continue as a national class. Read more: http://www.npr.org/2011/06/20/137296721/supreme-court-limits-wal-mart-discrimination-case.

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