What is the minimum hourly wage required by Florida state law?

The federal government regulates that all employers pay $7.25 per hour, while the State of Florida requires that employees be paid a minimum of $8.10 per hour worked (2015).


When is your employer required to pay overtime?

As a general rule, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), your employer must pay you overtime (one and a half times your regular rate of pay) for any time worked over 40 hours per workweek.

Exceptions to this rule apply to executive, administrative, and management positions, and for certain other employers or industries. In some circumstances, the employer may look to an 80 hour period (2 weeks) and calculate overtime on hours worked over 80 during that period of time.

Please note that special rules apply to public employers.


What does at-will employment mean?

“Employment at-will” means that an employer has the right to terminate an employee at any time without further notice or reason, as long as that reason is not an unlawful reason. Employees also have the right to terminate their employment without notice or reason.

This is legal as long as the actions taken against the employee are not the product of workplace discrimination or in violation of state, local and/or federal law. This is the case in most states, although some have implemented exceptions to the rule.

Florida is considered an “employment at will” jurisdiction and there are only very limited exceptions grounded in the State’s Constitution and state statutes (for fear that exceptions would obscure the true meaning of the law). However, at-will is not an end-all for unlawful termination cases.


How much break time is required in the workplace by law?

Florida does not actually require paid or unpaid breaks or lunches. Federal regulations require that employees younger than 18 years of age be granted a 30 minute lunch break per every 4 hours worked.

Outside this federal law, in Florida, there are no additional regulations on breaks.


Are you entitled to maternal, paternal, or other medical leaves of absences?

Federal law- the Family & Medical Leave Act– requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide a 12 week leave period for qualifying medical reasons, to care for certain family members with qualifying medical conditions and leave related to the birth/adoption and bonding with a child.

To be eligible for protected leave you must have worked at least 1,250 hours in 12 months prior to your requested leave period.

Qualified cases include leave for:

  • your own medical condition;
  • childbirth (including adoption and foster care);
  • bonding after childbirth (maternal and paternal);
  • or care for a qualified family member (spouse, child, or parent)

Other leaves may be available as an accommodation for a qualifying disability.


Can an employee require you to be at your work station 15 minutes early?

No, not unless you’re being paid for it. If you are required to be at work early, walk through a turnstile, check into security, or prepare with protective gear, then your employer must pay you for the time it takes to accomplish this task.


Is the employer required to pay unpaid vacation days if you quit?

Vacation pay is not required by state or federal law, but if it’s promised and earned in the way initially stated within the contract, such that payment becomes a contractual obligation, then it’s required to be paid to the employee regardless of the reason for departure or termination.


What types of deductions can be made from an employee’s paycheck?

The only lawful wage deductions are those that benefit the employee. Common wage deductions include those for state and federal taxes, social security, retirement, or court-ordered wage garnishment. The only other types of deductions allowed by law are those authorized in writing for the employee’s benefit.


Can an employer ever distinguish candidates based on sex, religion, or age?

Discrimination based on sex, religion, age, and race is unlawful. But there are exceptions to the rule if the job description requires one of these such things as an occupational qualification.

For instance, a kosher deli may require Jewish butchers, or a theatre role may call for male actors ages 20 to 25, but this only applies when lack of such a qualification means the job cannot be performed properly otherwise.

In addition, all employees must be screened by the same standard.


What is the statute of limitations on employment cases?

The statute of limitations (the time within which you must bring a claim or a lawsuit) depends on the nature of your case. For most discrimination cases, you must file a charge with the Florida Commission of Human Relations (FCHR) or Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) within 365 days to be covered by the Florida statute or within 300 days under most applicable Federal statutes, from the date you were discriminated against. Your right to file a lawsuit thereafter turns on whether you met this administrative prerequisite in a timely manner and the time within which to file a lawsuit is subject to additional time limits. Some laws, such as the Equal Pay Act or Section 1981 and Section 1981 claims do not require prior filing with the EEOC or FCHR.

If you have a personal injury case, a defamation claim, some other “wrongful termination” claims, or bodily harm/injury/death, the statute of limitations is four years for Florida employees. If your claim is a breach of contract case, then your statute of limitations is five years from the date of the violation in the State of Florida.

(The answers above are generalized responses and many factors must be considered for each case on a case by case basis.)


What does it mean to be paid salary vs. hourly pay?

In general, if you are a salary based employee you will earn a fixed amount whether you work 40 hours a week or not. If you are an hourly paid employee you get paid only for the hours worked. Nevertheless, the fact that you are a “salaried” employee does not mean you are not entitled to overtime pay if you work in excess of the 40 hours a week. It all depends if you fall within an exception to the Fair Labor Standards Act.


What does it mean to be an exempt employee vs. non-exempt employee?

An exempt employee is not entitled to overtime pay for hours exceeding the 40 hours worked in a week. A non-exempt employee is entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of the 40 hours a week. Nevertheless, the mere title of “exempt” or “non-exempt” employee is not determinative. To be an exempt employee you must fall within one of the exemptions to the Fair Labor Standards Act.


What should I do if I am being discriminated or retaliated against, but I’m still employed?

Exhausting your employer’s resources, e.g. informing management or filing a claim with the Human Resources Department, is recommended. If you have exhausted your options we recommend consulting with an attorney to see if your situation involves violations of your statutory rights.


How long will the process take?

The process can take from a few days to several years. Employment cases are very fact specific and fact driven, but typically a case can take between 6 to 18 months.


Am I entitled to a copy of my background check if I’m not hired because of something the employer saw in it?

Absolutely. If the employer does not want to provide you a copy, insist on knowing which agency they used to obtained the background check and write or call the company to ask for a copy. And, seek legal assistance, because your employer is obligated to provide you a copy.


Does an employer have the right to conduct a background check on me?

Yes, provided that they have given the appropriate disclosures as required by the Federal Credit Report Act.

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