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Florida Labor and Employment Law
Florida Minimum Wage
As of July 24, 2009, the minimum wage in Florida is $7.25 an hour. This minimum wage applies to all employees in Florida State who are covered by the federal minimum wage. However, some industries make allowances for tips and therefore can set a lower hourly pay. For example, food service workers who earn tips as part of their total compensation may earn $4.23 an hour. Allowances are given for employees who are required to maintain their uniforms and for employers who supply meals and lodging.
Under federal law, salaried managers are not allowed to share in the tips.
Florida At Will Employment
Florida is an "at will" employment state. As such, at-will employees can be
terminated for any reason. The only exception is for employees who are covered by a contract or union agreement governing the terms of employment. Employees who are covered by an employment contract can usually only be terminated for the reasons set out in the contract. At-will employment also protects the employee's right to resign.
Unlawful terminations violate legal protections, including discrimination or harassment, whistleblower protections, absence to serve on a jury, retaliation for asserting legal rights or violations of employment or union contracts. In such cases a fired employee could potentially file a wrongful termination claim.
Florida Right to Work
Florida is a Right-to-Work state, meaning that a person cannot be denied a job based on union membership. A person can choose to be a part of a union or not be part of a union—either way, his or her job status cannot be determined by union status.
Donning and doffing refers to the time spent putting on and taking off uniforms or required work safety gear to properly perform job duties. Often, work gear can take 10 minutes or more to put on and take off for each shift, plus time spent dressing and undressing for breaks, but employers frequently do not pay for that time. In some cases, employees should be paid for their time spent putting on and taking off required work clothing and safety gear and, if the employee is full time, the unpaid time could actually mean overtime is owed.
Florida Donning and Doffing Violations
In addition to uniforms and safety gear, some employees at restaurants are required to come in 15 minutes early to learn about the day's specials, set tables and taste food so they can recommend it to customers. Although this time is required for work—and although it benefits the employer—in some companies such time is unpaid, meaning workers are giving up an extra 15 minutes per shift for the benefit of their employer. For employees who work full-time, that extra 15 minutes per shift is unpaid overtime, and over the course of a year, that unpaid overtime could add up to hundreds of dollars of unpaid work.
A lawsuit has reportedly been filed against Bloomin' Brands, Inc, owner of Outback Steakhouse, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act. the lawsuit alleges the company required employees to perform unpaid work prior to shifts, refused breaks and failed to pay for mandatory meetings and training sessions.
Bloomin' Brands has denied the allegations.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act is a federal law regarding employee wages and hours worked, including overtime hours and wages. Under the FLSA, some workers can be exempted from overtime pay. However, those workers must fit the criteria the FLSA sets out for exemption. Florida's laws also apply to employment subject to the FLSA. In cases where both the FLSA and state law apply, the law setting the higher standards must be observed.
More information on how the Fair Labor Standards Act applies to overtime can be found here.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal act that requires that covered employers provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for the following reasons: birth and care of the employee's newborn child; care for a child after adoption or foster care placement; care for the employee's spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition; or for a serious health condition that affects the employee's ability to work.
Florida employees are eligible for FMLA coverage if they have worked for a covered employer for at least one year, for 1,250 hours over the previous 12 months (not necessarily consecutive months) and if a minimum of 50 employees are employed by the same employer within 75 miles.
Covered employers are those who employ more than 50 employees within 75 miles of the worksite and have at least 50 employees who work 20 or more work-weeks in the current calendar year or the previous calendar year. Public agencies are covered by the FMLA regardless of the number of employees.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
The Occupational Safety and Health Act is a federal law enacted to ensure that employees work in an environment that is free from recognized hazards. It is part of the United States Code, Title 29, Chapter 15.
Federal laws also protect employees from sexual harassment and discrimination, including race, age, disability and pregnancy discrimination.
Employees who feel their rights have been violated may have the opportunity to bring their complaint before the courts.
Florida Employment Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered damages in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to a lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
Last updated on Oct-15-13
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