State and Federal Regulations that Affect Workers and Businesses
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.
Florida Minimum Wage Act
Businesses are required to pay workers at least the minimum wage. In Florida, the minimum wage is $8.05 per hour, which is significantly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The minimum wage for tipped employees in Florida is $5.03 per hour plus the requisite $3.02 per hour tip credit, in comparison to the federal tipped employee minimum wage of $2.13. In most cases, the Florida wage prevails because it is greater.
Right to Work
Florida is a right to work state, meaning employees have the option of joining a union and participating in union activities, but cannot be forced to join a union. Public employees are permitted by law to join a union, but are prohibited from striking.
Restraints on Competition
Florida Statutes §542.335 allows an employer and worker to enter into a contract that restrains the workers rights to future employment. The restraints in a non-compete agreement must be reasonable as to time, area and type of business and must be justified by a legitimate business interest, such as to protect trade secrets, confidential information, client relationships or the business’s investment in employee training.
Florida Uniform Trade Secrets Act
The Uniform Trade Secrets Act prohibits an employee from misappropriating and disclosing a business’s trade secrets, defined in Florida Statute 688. 002 as “information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process that:
a) Derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use; and
b) Is the subject of efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy.” A business has legal recourse to enjoin the worker from misappropriation and may pursue monetary damages.
Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992
Modeled after Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Florida Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment based on the worker’s inclusion in a protected class, including race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, disability or marital status. The Florida statute is enforced by the Florida Commission on Human Relations, as opposed to the federal statute, which is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Florida Whistleblower Act
Florida Statute §112.3187 contains the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act, which prohibits retaliation against state employees and contractors who report a government agency’s gross mismanagement, neglect of duty, waste of funds or a violation that endangers the public’s health, safety or welfare.
Learn More About Florida Employment Laws
Gunterfirm advises businesses and workers on the Florida and federal employment laws that affect their employment relationship. Call 239.334.7017 or contact us online to schedule your free initial case evaluation with our Naples/ Fort Myers employment and labor law attorney.