As an employee in Florida, you expect to be treated fairly by your employer. This is because employees in Florida and across the United States are protected by laws that give certain rights of employment, as well as options for when an employer violates those rights.
From wage and hour laws to laws that prevent discrimination in the workplace, Florida workers have the right to fair employment. Florida workers can also take legal action if their employer violates their rights.
If you were treated unfairly in the workplace, your employer may have broken the law. While you can file a complaint with the relevant government agency, it helps to hire a lawyer who understands your rights under the law.
Federal Employment Laws That Protect Florida Workers
Various state laws in Florida protect employee rights. On top of state laws, federal laws also protect employees in the workplace.
At least three main federal employment laws protect employee rights:
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
- Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes a federal minimum wage, as well as overtime pay, recordkeeping, and other standards that affect employees. Any employer who fails to pay eligible employees for working overtime is in violation of this law.
Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
This federal law gives eligible employees the right to take unpaid leave for family or medical reasons without losing their job. Included in their leave is the right to continue to receive healthcare benefits under the same terms of their employment.
Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSHA)
OSHA protects the health and safety of workers in the U.S. This law creates standards for employers to adhere to and works with individual states like Florida to ensure the health and safety of employees at work.
Employee Rights In Florida
The three main federal laws that protect workers across the United States extends to workers in Florida.
Florida workers are protected by both state and federal laws in the following areas:
- wage and hours
- denial of leave
- workplace safety
- wrongful termination and unemployment
Florida Wage And Hour Laws
In Florida, employers must pay the highest applicable minimum wage to their employees. While federal minimum wage is $7.25/hr, Florida law imposes a minimum wage of $8.46/hr. This means as a worker in Florida, you must collect at least $8.46/hr by law.
Wage and hour laws also require Florida workers to receive time-and-a-half pay for working overtime, or more than 40 hours in one week. However, certain exceptions apply, including if you’re an exempt employee, like an administrator or an executive, or a salaried employee.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEC), as well as the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, handle claims regarding workplace wage and hour violations. Contact a lawyer to better determine your legal options.
Florida Workplace Discrimination Laws
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that protects workers from discrimination. Other Florida laws further protect employees from discrmination, including the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.
These laws protect employee discrimination on the basis of:
- marital status
- national origin
Florida employers must comply with all anti-discrimination laws if they have more than 15 employees. Federal anti-discrimination laws are enforced by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You can file a workplace discrimination complaint by filing with the Flordia Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), but it helps to hire a lawyer as well.
Florida Workplace Harassment Laws
Both federal and state laws protect Florida workers from harassment in the workplace. Harrassment is a form of discrmination, and federal and state anti-discrimination laws also make it illegal for harrassment to occur in the workplace.
Harassment is defined as an unwelcome action or comment that creates an offensive or hostile work environment. Harassment also occurs when these actions are used as a condition of employment. Sexual harassment is a common harrassament claim, but harrassment can also extend to age, race, disability, or other characteristics.
A sexual harassment claim can be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR), as long as the workplace employs at least 15 to 20 employees.
Paid And Unpaid Leave In Florida
Florida workers may need to take some paid time off. This could be for vacation, sick days, holidays, or however you wish to use your paid-time-off (PTO) benefits. However, Florida law does not require employers to provide PTO.
There are cases, however, when state and federal laws require employers to allow employees to take unpaid leave.
Consider the following circumstances and laws:
- Leave for Medical And Family: Under FMLA, employers with at least 50 employees must give workers at least 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave for medical issues or caregiving for family. You won’t lose your job and you can continue to receive benefits.
- Leave for Military Duty: Both Florida law and federal law (the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act) gives employees the right to leave work for military duty. Although the leave is unpaid, employees must be reinstated and cannot face any discrimination based on their military service.
- Leave for Jury Duty: In Florida, employees can take unpaid leave if they’re called for jury duty without fear of losing their job for missing work.
- Leave for Domestic Violence: Florida employees who have been victims of domestic abuse are allowed up to three days of unpaid time off per year as required by Florida law. This gives victims and their families time to address issues that resulted from domestic violence, including legal help, medical care, or more.
Workplace Safety In Florida
OSHA gives Florida workers the right to a safe workplace. Under this federal law, employers must provide healthy working conditions, safety training, and safety requirements imposed by their industry. If your employer doesn’t meet safety regulations, you can file a complaint with OSHA.
If you’re injured on the job because of an unsafe working environment, you can likely file a claim for worker’s compensation in Florida. All employers in Florida must carry insurance to cover worker compensation claims.
Whistleblowing In Florida
A whistleblower is an employee who exposes an employer’s illegal activity. Florida’s Whistle-blower’s Act makes it illegal for state employees to be retaliated against for exposing illicit behaviors. The federal Whistleblower Protection Act protects employees from whistleblower retaliation across various sectors of employment.
Wrongful Termination And Unemployment In Florida
If you are terminated or laid off in Florida, you may receive unemployment benefits. However, you must have left your job through no fault of your own and meet certain earnings requirements. You can file for unemployment with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Florida is an at-will state, which means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason related to their employment.
However wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for:
- reporting or objecting to discrimination
- filing a worker’s compensation claim
- taking FMLA leave
- reporting wage or hour issues
- dealing with other issues covered under state or federal employment laws
Employer Retaliation In Florida
As an at-will employment state, Florida has a lot of leeway when it comes to firing employees. Under common law, Florida employees can be fired for any reason, unless it violates a legislative statute. This includes any of the employee rights laws in Florida and on the federal level.
Employers cannot retaliate against you for filing any kind of complaint that’s covered under the law.
- reduction of salary
- re-assignment to a less desirable position
- re-assignment to a shift that conflicts with known family responsibilities
- refusing to give an employee training
- other ways of punishing an employee
If you’re experiencing a labor-related issue in Florida, it’s likely best to consult with a lawyer who can help you file the relevant claim.
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Filing A Labor-Related Claim In Florida
To file a labor-related claim in Florida that asserts your rights as an employee, you may need to hire a lawyer. The kind of claim you file will depend on how your rights were violated.
Common employee rights claims in Florida include:
- wages and overtime
- sexual harassment
- discrimination in the hiring or firing process
- denying leave
- unsafe work environment
A lawyer can help you file a claim with the appropriate government agency, as well as file a lawsuit against liable parties, including your employer.
Statute Of Limitations For Workplace Violation Claims In Florida
The statute of limitations refers to the timeline you have for a filing claim. To make sure you file in time, it’s important to note the date when the violation occurred. The exact timeline for employee rights violation claims will depend on how your rights were violated.
Here are some timelines for filing employee rights claims in Florida:
- wage and hour claims: 2 years
- discrimination/harrasment claims with the EEOC: 300 days
- discrimination/harrasment claims with the FCHR: one year
- leave claims under FMLA: 2 years
- worker compensation/workplace safety claims: 2 years
Why Hire A Lawyer For Employment-Related Claims In Florida?
Even though you can file individually with a state and federal organization tasked with enforcing the appropriate employment law, serious problems that occur in the workplace are best handled by a qualified lawyer.
For serious employment disputes, larger employers may have a team of attorneys on retainer to fight your claim. Your employer’s resources may outnumber your resources if you do not hire an employment lawyer, which could create a significant disadvantage.
It’s nearly impossible to succeed in an employment lawsuit without a lawyer.
Lawyers can help your case in Florida because they’re experts in:
- federal/Florida employment laws
- court procedures
- gathering information/evidence
- presenting witness testimonies
- presenting documents to courts and juries
- preventing your employer’s attorneys from using unfair tactics
When To Consult With An Employment Lawyer In Florida
You should consult with an employment lawyer in Florida when:
- you think you were wrongfully terminated and don’t understand your legal options
- you have concerns about how you’re being treated in the workplace
- your employer’s unlawful conduct makes you want to quit
- negotiations regarding severance pay with your employer are unavailable
- you don’t clearly understand your rights as an employee
- you’re unsure of the deadline for filing a claim
- you want to file a lawsuit in state court or federal court
- other employees make similar claims against your employer
- you’re unhappy with the government agencies tasked with investigating your claim
Since you have to prove that your employer was in violation of the law, it’s important to document everything you can. It’s also crucial to not delay contacting a lawyer if you think your employee rights have been violated.
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Top-Rated Employee Rights Lawyers In Florida
At Florin|Roebig, our team of Florida employment lawyers are experts in the varying areas of labor law that may affect your claim. Our offices are headquartered in Florida, and we’ve tried numerous employee rights cases throughout the state.
We offer free case evaluations to help you move forward with your claim. Once you submit a case evaluation, one of our lawyers can inform you of the legal processes involved and whether your case is worth your time and expense.
To learn more about employee rights in Florida, or to start your free case evaluation, contact the offices of Florin|Roebig today.