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Total Articles: 49

Re-Opening Florida: The Step-by-Step Plan for Florida’s Recovery

On April 29, 2020, the eve of the natural expiration of his “Safer at Home Order,” Governor Rick DeSantis announced his “Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step.” plan to reopen Florida, which he explained would include three phases in line with the guidelines previously released by the White House. Under the plan, most of Florida would enter “phase one” of the state’s reopening process at 12:01 a.m. on May 4, while continuing the fight against COVID-19.

Florida Safer at Home Order

On April 1, 2020, Florida Governor Ron Desantis issued Order 20-91 directing Floridians to limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities, and additionally directing senior citizens and individuals with significant underlying medical conditions to stay at home during the continued COVID-19 crisis. The order does not define specify at what age individuals are considered to be senior citizens. The Safer at Home Order went into effect at 12:01 a.m. on April 3, 2020, and will expire on April 30, 2020, unless extended by a subsequent order.

Florida's Pinellas County Issues Safer at Home Order

On March 25, 2020, Pinellas County issued an order directing citizens to comply with the CDC guidelines of maintaining a distance of 6 feet from other individuals and not gathering in groups of more than 10 individuals, and to limit non-essential activities during the continued COVID-19 crisis. The Safer-At-Home Order went into effect at 11:27 a.m. on March 26, 2020, and will continue until the expiration of the existing Local State of Emergency.

An Update on St. Petersburg’s Wage Theft Notice and Posting Requirements and Recent Amendments to Pinellas County’s Wage Theft Ordinance

In 2015, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, approved an ordinance prohibiting wage theft in the city. The Wage Theft Ordinance (WTO) “aims to eliminate the underpayment or nonpayment of wages” by giving private employees within the city’s limits an administrative process for seeking back wages, liquidated damages, and costs and attorney’s fees. Pinellas County maintains a similar, though not identical, wage theft ordinance.

New Year, New Legislative Session Greets Florida Employers

Florida’s 2020 legislative session convened today in Tallahassee. This session will be one to watch, as over 20 workplace-related bills have already been filed, covering such topics as discrimination and retaliation, minimum wage and overtime pay, pre-employment verification and background screening, reemployment assistance, tax credits and refunds, job relocation, job protections for medical marijuana users, paid family leave, and heat illness prevention.

Parental Leave Continuance Policy Rejected

Case management is such an important task for litigators. We must plan how best to utilize the allotted and often limited time provided for each case.

Florida Adds Vaping to Regulated Indoor Smoking

The Florida legislature recently amended the “Indoor Air: Tobacco Smoke” Act, §386.202 of the Florida Statutes, to restrict indoor vaping in addition to tobacco smoking in enclosed spaces. The amended act is now known as the “Indoor Air: Smoking and Vaping” Act. The new law went into effect on July 1, 2019.

Florida’s 2019 Legislative Session Yields Bills Related to Vaping in the Workplace and Unemployment Benefits for Domestic Violence Victims

The Florida Legislature concluded its annual legislative session on Saturday, May 4, 2019. Over 20 employment-related bills were introduced, covering subjects such as E-Verify, criminal background screening, discrimination and harassment, sexual misconduct reporting in health care, local regulation of employment conditions, minimum wage, vaping, paid leave, internship tax credits, restraints of trade or commerce (noncompete agreements), drug-free workplaces, and unemployment compensation claims. Although only two of these bills survived, many of the bills that did not pass could resurface and impact employers in the near future. The next legislative session convenes in Tallahassee, Florida on January 14, 2020.

Miami Minimum Wage Ordinance Remains Invalid after Review Denied by Florida Supreme Court

A 2016 Miami ordinance, intended to increase the City’s minimum wage to more than $13.00 an hour by 2021, remains invalid after the state’s highest court denied review of a lower appellate court decision.

Florida Supreme Court Strikes Down Miami Beach Minimum Wage

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked a Miami Beach law that would have raised the minimum wage in the city. This ends a lengthy legal battle over whether cities could set their own minimum wages that do not correspond with what has been set by the Florida Constitution.

Share Florida’s Minimum Wage Will Increase on January 1 to $8.46 per Hour and $5.44 for Tipped Employees

The Florida Minimum Wage Act, which applies to all employees in Florida covered by the federal minimum wage, requires the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity to calculate a new minimum wage rate each year on September 30. The wage rate is based on the percentage increase in the federal Consumer Price Index (CPI) for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region for the 12-month period prior to September 1.

Court Finds Florida Statute Preempts Miami Beach Minimum Wage Ordinance

On December 13, 2017, a Florida district court of appeal held that Miami Beach violated Florida law by enacting a local ordinance increasing the minimum wage. According to the court, Florida law prohibits municipalities from setting a minimum wage higher than the state minimum wage.

New Florida Law Aims to Put Brakes on ADA Barrier-to-Access Lawsuits

Responding to the alarming proliferation of lawsuits in Florida alleging that places of public accommodations create barriers to access to disabled patrons, Florida has adopted what appears to be the first law in the country attempting to provide some defense to beleaguered businesses.

Florida Enacts Law to Implement Provisions of its Medical Marijuana Amendment, but Significant Questions Remain for Employers

Executive Summary: Late last week Florida Governor Rick Scott signed into law a bill intended to implement provisions of the medical marijuana constitutional amendment that was approved by Florida voters last November (Amendment 2).

The St. Petersburg Wage Theft Ordinance: New Notice and Poster Requirements

The City of St. Petersburg, Florida, recently amended its wage theft ordinance to require employers to provide pay notice to employees at the time of hire and to display “in a location accessible to all employees” a poster about wage theft. See St. Pete. Code, Chap. 15, Art. III, Sec. 15-40, et seq. These requirements are not yet in effect. As detailed below, the effective date is on hold pending the completion of a memorandum of understanding by the City, which is engaging a “community-based” organization to “implement the purposes of this article.”

In The Weeds: Florida Lawmakers Provide Medical Marijuana Guidance For The Workplace

Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a medical marijuana bill into law on Friday that provides guidelines on the implementation of the state’s Constitutional Amendment regarding medical marijuana. The good news for employers: the bill provides additional guidance on the amendment’s application in the workplace. The bad news for employers: the bill will almost certainly invite legal challenges and continue to cause uncertainty.

Florida Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Law

Last November, Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the Florida Constitution to permit the use of medical marijuana. The constitutional amendment went into effect on January 3, 2017, and required regulations to be implemented no later than July 3, 2017. On June 9, 2017, the Florida Senate passed a bill relating to medical use of marijuana, and Governor Rick Scott signed it on June 23, 2017, rendering it effective.

New Florida Law Addresses Status of Workers and Other Issues in Ride-Sharing Industry

Executive Summary: As the sharing economy continues to gain popularity with workers, businesses, and consumers by offering increased job flexibility and consumer choice, courts and regulatory agencies have struggled with how to fit this new “virtual” workforce into a legal framework originally established to protect those employed in a traditional brick and mortar environment. A primary point of contention has been whether these workers should be classified as employees or whether they are properly treated as independent contractors. The Florida Legislature recently addressed this issue in the transportation industry by enacting a statute that will permit transportation network companies (TNCs) to lawfully classify their drivers as independent contractors for the purposes of Florida law if they meet the statute’s requirements.

Florida Preserves Employer Protections in Medical Marijuana Bill

Voters in the November 8, 2016, general election in the state of Florida approved the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. The initiative required a supermajority vote to pass, with at least 60 percent of voters voting in support of a state constitutional amendment. The provision became part of the Florida Constitution at Article X, Section 29. The constitutional amendment (Article X, Section 29(e)) expressly provides that “[n]othing in this section shall limit the legislature from enacting laws consistent with this section.”

Big For Gigs: New Florida Law To Eliminate Misclassification Battles

I wrote an article yesterday about the new law that is about to be signed by Florida Governor Rick Scott that will ensure ride-sharing drivers are classified as independent contractors and not employees. You can check out the full article here. The key is that gig companies will have this protection from misclassification claims so long as they

Gig Economy Game-Changer? New Florida Law Ensures Contractor Status For Drivers

The state of Florida is about to enact first-of-its-kind legislation that will ensure most ride-sharing drivers are independent contractors and not employees, eliminating costly misclassification battles and providing a massive boost to the gig economy. After passing the state legislature last week, Governor Rick Scott tweeted yesterday that he intends to sign the bill into law when he returns from a foreign trade trip. Once it takes effect on July 1, 2017, Florida will offer unmatched protections to sharing economy companies that do business in the state, hopefully spurring other states to follow its lead.

Conflict Between Florida Preemption Statute and Miami Beach Minimum Wage Ordinance Emerges Amidst Ongoing Litigation

A conflict between a Florida state preemption statute and the City of Miami Beach’s minimum wage ordinance is coming to bear. The end result of the pending litigation on the subject will likely determine the extent to which Florida local governments can enact living wage ordinances and similar laws.

Florida Court Rules Uber Drivers are Not Employees

In a somewhat surprising but positive development for gig companies, a Florida state appellate court ruled on February 1, 2017 that Uber drivers are independent contractors, NOT employees, and therefore not entitled to unemployment compensation benefits when their working relationship with the car ride service terminates.

What Does Florida's New Medical Marijuana Law Mean for Employers?

Executive Summary: As employers in Florida prepare for the new year, many may wonder how Florida’s new medical marijuana law will impact them. In the November 2016 election, Florida as well as Arkansas, North Dakota and Montana all approved their respective medical marijuana amendments, bringing the total to 28 states and the District of Columbia that now allow comprehensive public medical marijuana programs. Additionally, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and California voted to legalize recreational marijuana, meaning a total of eight states and the District of Columbia now permit the recreational use of marijuana. While the text of Florida’s medical marijuana law provides little guidance for employers, an examination of how other states have handled employment issues under similar laws provides some insight into what Florida employers can expect.

Miami Beach Employers Sue City to Stop Enforcement of Ordinance Imposing Higher Minimum WageEntry

The City of Miami Beach passed a wage ordinance in June 2016 that would increase the minimum wage for employment within the municipality to $10.31 effective January 1, 2018, and increasing $1.00 each year until reaching $13.31 in 2021. The Florida minimum wage for 2017, by contrast, is $8.10 per hour.

Hazy Future Ahead For Florida Employers After Medical Marijuana Vote

Yesterday’s election result means that Florida will soon be the 26th state in the country to permit certain eligible users to use medical marijuana without fear of prosecution by state officials. The passage of Constitutional Amendment 2 is troublesome for employers, however, as it leaves open some very basic questions about whether and to what extent the use of the drug by applicants and employees will need to be accommodated.

The Florida Employer Summer 2016

A bulletin on employment, labor, benefits, and immigration law.

Companies in Florida Face Difficult Road in Recovering Restitution from Criminal Employees

A company whose employee embezzles money has limited options for recovering its losses. Often, a company must rely on law enforcement to seize the employee’s assets before the employee can dissipate all available funds. A new law in Florida, however, will make law enforcement’s seizure of assets much more difficult and will likely result in a decrease of available resources for recovery.

Hillsborough County, Florida Passes Wage Theft Ordinance to Streamline Workers’ Claims

On October 21, 2015, the Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners enacted the “Hillsborough County Wage Recovery Ordinance.” By it terms, the ordinance applies to all employers within Hillsborough County and any company with an employee or independent contractor who performs work within Hillsborough County. The ordinance also applies to “third-party labor providers,” although the Board left this term undefined.

New Pinellas County Wage Theft Ordinance Goes Into Effect January 1

The commissioners of Pinellas County recently adopted a wage theft ordinance that will become effective on January 1, 2016. The ordinance provides that if any employer fails to pay wages of at least $60 due to an employee 14 days or more from the date the work was performed, the failure to pay will be deemed “wage theft.” However, if the employer has established a regular pay period longer than 14 days, the wages may be paid according to that schedule. “Employee” is defined as an individual “who performs work within the geographic boundaries of Pinellas County while being employed by an employer, but shall not include any bona fide independent contractor.”

Florida’s Minimum Wage Likely to Remain Unchanged on January 1, 2016

On November 2, 2004, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that created Florida’s minimum wage. The minimum wage applies to all employees in the state covered by the federal minimum wage. Florida law requires a new minimum wage calculation on September 30 of each year, based on the Consumer Price Index. If that calculation proves higher than the federal rate, the state’s rate would be adjusted and would then take effect the following January.

The Florida Employer Fall 2015

A bulletin on employment, labor, benefits, and immigration law.

New Florida Law Offers Employers Leverage Against Employees’ Unauthorized Access of Data, Files

Effective October 1, 2015, Florida’s Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act (Sections 608.801- 668.805, Florida Statutes) (CADRA) provides a new remedy to employers and other businesses that suffer harm or loss due to unauthorized access to their computers or to information stored on their computers.

City of St. Petersburg, Florida Passes Wage Theft Ordinance

Under the new City of St. Petersburg “wage theft” ordinance, an employer commits wage theft when the employer fails to pay wages, or a portion of wages, due to an employee within a “reasonable time” (typically 14 business days) from the date on which that employee performed the work. Upon a finding by a hearing officer that an employer failed to pay wages, or a portion of wages, an employee will be entitled to recover back wages, liquidated damages (i.e., two times the amount of back wages owed), reasonable costs, and attorneys’ fees from that employer. However, the minimum “threshold” amount for which an employee can sue is $60.

Proponents of Florida's Medical Marijuana Amendment Have High Hopes But Will Its Passing Affect Your Workplace Policies?

Executive Summary: If voters approve the ballot initiative "Use of Marijuana for Certain Medical Conditions" ("Amendment 2") this November, Florida will become the 24th state plus Washington D.C. to legalize medical marijuana.[1] Amendment 2 would amend the Florida Constitution to allow the medical use of marijuana for individuals with certain debilitating conditions as determined by a physician. The proposed amendment gives little insight into its potential effect on employer policies, and, if approved, the implementing regulations will not be available until July of 2015. However, with more and more states legalizing some form of medical marijuana, employers should be proactive in assessing their workplace policies and drug testing programs for compliance, especially when operating in more than one jurisdiction.

Florida’s New Data Breach Notification Requirements Take Effect July 1

On June 20, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed the Florida Information Protection Act of 2014 (FIPA) into law. FIPA imposes stringent new security and notice requirements on businesses and employers that maintain personal information regarding individuals, employees, and customers. FIPA becomes effective on July 1, 2014.

New Florida Statute Requires Schools To Provide Information About Sex Offenders

Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature enacted a requirement for nonpublic colleges, universities and schools. Effective July 1, 2014, all such institutions are required to inform employees and students at orientation and on the school’s website of the existence of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement sexual-predator-registry website and the toll-free telephone number that gives access to sexual predator and sexual offender public information.

Florida Supreme Court Finds State Law Bans Pregnancy Discrimination

Executive Summary: The Florida Supreme has held that the Florida Civil Rights Act's (FCRA) prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination based on pregnancy. See Delva v. The Continental Group, 2014 Fla. LEXIS 1316 (April 17, 2014). In reaching this conclusion, the Court noted that pregnancy is a "natural condition and primary characteristic unique to the female sex." The Court's decision resolves a split of authority among the lower courts on this issue.

Florida Supreme Court Upholds Legislation Requiring Public Employees to Contribute to Retirement Accounts

In a 4-3 decision in Scott v. Williams, No. SC12-520 (Fla. Jan. 17, 2013), the Florida Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of a 2011 law, Senate Bill 2100, requiring Florida’s public employees to contribute three percent of their pay to the Florida Retirement System (FRS). In addition to the employee contribution being held constitutional and remaining in effect, this decision also affirmed the elimination of the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for service after July 1, 2011. This decision impacts Florida’s more than 600,000 state and local employees, including police officers, firefighters, teachers, and other public employees, as well as state and local governments that faced the possibility of having to reimburse millions of dollars of monies already contributed by employees.

Broward County Becomes the Second County in Florida to Adopt Wage Protection Ordinance

On October 23, 2012, Broward County became the second county in Florida to adopt a controversial wage protection ordinance. In a seven-to-two vote, with Commissioners Stacy Ritter and Chip LaMarca voting against the ordinance, and despite heavy opposition from Broward County business leaders, the Broward County Commission approved the ordinance, which will become effective on January 2, 2013.

More Local 'Wage Theft' Ordinances May Soon Be Enacted in Florida

On June 12, 2012, Broward County authorized its County Attorney to draft a wage theft ordinance for consideration by the County Commission. Indications are that Broward’s ordinance will likely be patterned after the wage theft ordinance adopted by Miami-Dade in 2010.

Get Your Summer Camp Compliance in Order

The Florida legislature amended Florida Statute 409.175, the law related to screening requirements for summer camps operated in Florida, effective in August 2010. In essence, the new statute provides Florida's Department of Children and Families with the authority to adopt rules relating to the screening requirements for "summer day camps" and "summer 24-hour camps." Though no rules have been adopted as of yet, the statute itself creates a Level 2 background screening requirement (as defined in Fla. Stat. 435) for all "summer day camp" and "summer 24-hour camp" "personnel."

Miami-Dade County Prohibits "Wage Theft".

The Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners recently approved an ordinance prohibiting "Wage Theft" in the county. The new ordinance will become effective on February 28, 2010.

Judge Delays Ruling on Request for an Injunction Against Florida's "Bring Your Gun to Work" Law.

A Federal judge in Florida has delayed a decision on a request by business groups to halt implementation of the so-called "Bring Your Gun to Work" law. Judge Robert Hinkle of the Northern District of Florida heard arguments on a request by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation to enjoin the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 1, 2008.

New Florida Laws Aimed at Schools.

The Florida legislature enacted three bills this session relating to education issues in Florida. Although none have yet been signed by Governor Crist, all three are expected to be signed. Only one (the Ethics in Education Act) has an immediate impact on Florida private schools; it contains a series of requirements that private schools need to plan for. The other two either pertain only to public schools (the bullying law), or reflect a pilot program not yet widely applicable to private schools (extracurricular activities). Here is a brief summary of each.

Florida’s New "Guns at Work" Law

On April 15, 2008, Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed into law a long disputed and politically divisive bill allowing Florida employees to bring guns to work – as long as the firearm is secured in the employee’s locked vehicle. Employees are not permitted to remove firearms from their vehicles on an employer’s property for any reason other than self-defense. The law also permits an employee to have ammunition for the firearm.

Florida Enacts Law Protecting Employees' Right to Bring Firearms to Work.

A new law in Florida will soon prevent employers from prohibiting employees licensed to carry concealed weapons from keeping firearms in their locked vehicles at work. The law, dubbed the “Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008,” takes effect July 1, 2008.

Terminating Internal Grievance Procedure Due To EEOC Charge Held To Be Unlawful.

Florida employers who terminate internal grievance procedures or investigations when an employee files a formal charge of discrimination may be liable for unlawful retaliation under a new decision issued by the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal. On January 23, 2008, the court held that Broward County, Florida, unlawfully retaliated against a county bus driver, in violation of the Florida Civil Rights Act, when it terminated an internal grievance procedure upon learning that the bus driver had filed a formal charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Donovan v. Broward County Bd. of Comm’rs., No. 4D07-52, Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal (January 23, 2008).

New Leave Law In Effect In Florida (pdf).

Effective July 1, 2007, certain Florida employers will be required to offer leave to employees who are victims of domestic violence. The new law applies to employers who employ 50 or more employees.
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