A cook has filed a class action lawsuit against her former employer, alleging the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and workers compensation acts.

The woman filed a complaint, individually and on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated Sept. 18, in Pinellas Circuit Court against the restaurant, alleging they failed to pay employees for all hours worked.

According to the complaint, the woman, who worked as a line cook from March 15 until her termination April 3, and other similarly situated employees, have suffered the loss of earnings. The suit says they worked in excess of 40 hours per week, but were not compensated at the statutory rate of one and a half their regular rate of pay as required by FLSA.

The woman claims the restaurant denied employees their full and proper overtime compensation required by the FLSA, and showed reckless disregard of the provisions of the FLSA.

The Fair Labor Standards Act has set forward strict standards for employers. Employees must make minimum wage for every hour they work, in compliance with overtime regulations and current minimum wage law. If your employer has not paid you in compliance with overtime or minimum wage laws, you are entitled to pursue an unpaid wage claim.

It is important to point out that it is also illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for asking about a wage and hour dispute or for taking legal action. If you were fired, demoted, given unfavorable shifts or bad reviews simply because you inquired about not being paid properly, you have a right to pursue legal action.

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A former employee is suing a south Florida cleaning company for alleged retaliation.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 3 in the Broward County Circuit Court, alleging that the company breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he suffered loss of employment, loss of income, worsening of his injury, humiliation and embarrassment on March 3 due to the company allegedly terminating his employment in retaliation for his claim for workers’ compensation benefits due to an injury he allegedly sustained in the scope of his employment.

The man holds the company responsible for allegedly terminating him in bad faith without reasonable grounds, and for allegedly interfering with his right to workers’ compensation benefits.

Florida retaliation laws were enacted to protect employees who take a stand in the workplace and fight for what is right. Our Florida Whistleblower & Retaliation Lawyers at Whittel & Melton represent employees who were terminated for doing the right thing. This includes employees who stand up to unlawful company conduct, file a complaint against their boss/supervisor, or testify against the company in a legal proceeding.

When an employer retaliates against an employee, Florida law provides financial relief. An employer retaliates against an employee when the employer fires, demotes, lays-off, or does anything that negatively affects the terms and conditions of the employee’s job  simply because they stood up to illegal dealings in the workplace.

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The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is suing the supermarket chain for religious discrimination after a new hire claimed Publix asked him to cut his dreadlocks in order to work there, according to reports.

The man, who practices Rastafarianism, applied to work in a Publix in Nashville, but “reportedly had to quit before he started” because his religion doesn’t allow him to cut his hair.

The man apparently asked his manager if he could not cut his hair because of his religion and asked if he could wear his hair in a hat, according to the EEOC. “Management refused to allow the hat or any other reasonable accommodation, and he was forced to quit before his first day of work.”

Publix is known for having grooming requirements for men such as neat haircuts and no beards, according to reports.  

Publix said it does not comment on pending litigation, but did offer a response.

“At Publix, we value and appreciate the diversity of all of our associates,” the statement from Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said. “We work to provide environments where known religious beliefs and practices of our associates and applicants are reasonably accommodated. As I’m sure you can understand, it would be inappropriate for us to comment specifically on this case, as it is pending litigation. However, please know that we are dedicated to the employment security of our associates and that we regularly provide accommodations to associates due to their religious beliefs, as required by law.”

Rastafarianism, an Abrahamic religion, requires adherents to not cut hair based on a line in the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers, which says with certain religious volunteers “not a razor shall come upon his head.”

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A former employee is suing a south Florida company for alleged age discrimination, disability discrimination and retaliation.

The woman filed a complaint on Aug. 2 in the Broward County Circuit Court, alleging that the company breached their duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that she suffered damages on Feb. 1, 2015 as a result of the company allegedly terminating her employment based upon her age, disability and in retaliation for her complaints of discrimination. The woman claims that she suffered mental anguish, loss of dignity and loss of future earnings.

The woman holds the company responsible for allegedly acting with malice and reckless disregard for her protected rights, and for allegedly interfering with her contractual right to enjoy the same benefits and privileges as other employees.

Discrimination can take on many different forms. Sadly, when an employer or another employee discriminates against someone because of age or disability, it is not always easy to prove that is the cause of the discrimination. If you feel you have been the victim of discrimination and you have a disability or are over 40 years old, it is important to work with our South Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton who can protect your rights.

Age discrimination specifically focuses on the concept that an older person cannot perform a job as well as a younger person. If you are 40 or older and are being treated differently than your coworkers, you could have grounds for a discrimination lawsuit. The older you are, the better the argument for age discrimination becomes.

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A man has filed a collective-action lawsuit against an Orlando business for alleged unpaid overtime wages.

The man filed a complaint on Aug. 1 in the Orange County Circuit Court, alleging that the business failed to pay its employees the proper wage for all hours they worked.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he and other similarly situated employees have suffered loss of earnings for allegedly not being paid 1.5 times their regular rate of pay for working more than 40 hours per week.

The man holds the business responsible for allegedly failing to determine if employees were properly compensated and for allegedly not keeping accurate time records.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) provides for collective action lawsuits against employers for minimum wage and overtime pay violations. To proceed as a collective action under the FLSA, employees must be “similarly situated,” which refers to employees subject to a common policy, plan or design that fails to compensate employees for minimum wage or overtime pay.

Employees must “opt in” to the lawsuit, which means they must affirmatively sign a document stating they want to proceed collectively. Usually one or more employees will initiate the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated. When other employees are given notice of the lawsuit, they can decide how they would like to proceed.

If you have a wage dispute with your employer, our Florida Unpaid Wage & Overtime Lawyers at Whittel & Melton to protect your rights. We can help you file a collective or class action lawsuit to obtain unpaid bonuses, commissions, and vacation pay as well as overtime and minimum wage.

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A former employee is suing BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy Services Inc. for alleged breach of contract, gender discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation.

The woman filed a complaint on July 21 in the Orange Circuit Court against Bioplus Specialty Pharmacy Services Inc., alleging that the company breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the complaint, the woman alleges that she suffered damages on April 18, 2016 due to the company’s alleged unlawful employment practices and discrimination because of her gender, including allegedly reducing in her compensation by half, which forced her to resign.

She holds the company responsible for allegedly creating intolerable working conditions for her, and for allegedly interfering with her contractual rights to enjoy the same benefits and privileges as other employees.

Gender discrimination in the workplace entails failing to hire someone or firing someone because of their sex or gender. It can also include failing to promote worthy candidates, paying less salary to a worker of one sex or one gender identification than another, creating a hostile work environment, and any other acts of unlawful discrimination. If you have experienced any of the above scenarios or have been treated unfairly at work, you may be the victim of discrimination.

Our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have proven experience protecting the rights of all workers in our state. We represent residents in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Ocala, Gainesville, Jacksonville, and everywhere in between. We understand what acts constitute gender discrimination and what rights and remedies are allotted to employees. We work tirelessly to help workers recover financial damages for their suffering.

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Americans spend more time than ever before at work. Work consumes the vast majority of our time, so a problem in the workplace can have a devastating impact on an employee and their family. This could not be more true when an employee is the victim of sexual harassment, as the case below demonstrates.

Ford Motor Co. has agreed to pay up to $10.125 million to settle an investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) over alleged sex and race harassment at two Ford plants, the federal agency announced.

In its investigation, the EEOC found reasonable cause to believe that personnel at two Ford facilities in the Chicago area had subjected female and African-American employees to sexual and racial harassment.

The EEOC also found that the company retaliated against employees who complained about the harassment or discrimination.

Ford chose to voluntarily resolve this issue with the EEOC, without admission of liability, to avoid an extended dispute.

The conciliation agreement provides monetary relief of up to $10.125 million to those who are found eligible through a claims process established by the agreement.

The agreement also ensures that during the next five years, Ford will conduct regular training at two of its Chicago-area facilities; continue to disseminate its anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies and procedures to employees and new hires; report to EEOC regarding complaints of harassment and/or related discrimination; and monitor its workforce regarding issues of alleged sexual or racial harassment and related discrimination.

Sexual harassment can occur in the workplace as what is called hostile work environment sexual harassment, which includes sexual gestures, physical touching, verbal or written sexual remarks, sexual jokes, and displaying sexual pictures. Sexual harassment can also occur when an employee is persuaded to perform sexual favors in return for keeping their job or getting a promotion or other work benefit.

Whatever the form of abuse, sexual harassment is not only demoralizing, but also humiliating. It can have a drastic impact on the lives of victims, causing psychological harm and financial insecurity. No employee should ever have to endure sexual harassment.

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The Florida First District Court of Appeal has overturned an order in a workers’ compensation case, ruling that a worker forfeited his right to benefits for a workplace accident after he offered conflicting details about his medical history and the cause of his injuries.

Cal-Maine Foods had appealed the ruling by the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to reject multiple defenses to compensability of a work accident and related benefits.

The case originated from an accident that occurred on Nov. 2, 2014. A man was working for Cal-Maine Foods when the brakes failed on a front-end loader he was driving. He jumped from the machine and was injured.

There was conflicting testimony as to whether the man reported any injuries to the company at the time of the accident.

Cal-Maine later fired the man for reasons unrelated to the accident.

In August 2015, following the termination, the man filed a petition for benefits, seeking payment of temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits and authorization of a neurological/orthopedic physician to evaluate and treat his lower back symptoms.

The man listed the November 2014 accident as the basis for the injuries.

During his first deposition in May 2015, the man testified that the injuries resulting from the work accident included a broken nose, orbital fractures, concussion with brain injury and herniated discs of the neck and lower back. He requested surgery for facial fractures and treatment for his neck and back.

In his testimony, the man said that when he jumped from the machine, he hit his left shoulder on the rear left tire, which spun him around causing him to strike his face on asphalt. He described injuries specifically to the right eye and socket as well as bleeding scrapes over his left eye.

During a second deposition seven months later, the man gave sworn testimony that his injuries from the accident included the eye socket, nose, neck, middle and lower back. However, he advised that as of the second deposition, his nose and eye injuries had healed. He complained of constant neck pain.

The man didn’t seek medical treatment after the accident. He waited until a month after his termination, which occurred two months after the November 2014 accident.

The man received initial medical treatment on Jan. 22, 2015 at Shands Hospital. He claimed to have a head injury and pain that affected his memory and resulted in a headache after he was hit in the head with a baseball bat eight days before coming to the hospital.

During the second deposition when confronted with the hospital records, the man testified that his description of the baseball bat incident was false and contrived. He asserted he later “corrected” this false account and told the hospital staff the injuries actually occurred from an accident at work.

On Feb. 4, 2015, the worker proceeded to the Wesley Chapel Hospital Emergency Room, where he was seen for facial pain, advising medical personnel that he received a facial fracture “one month earlier.”

The man requested pain medications and denied back pain or headaches. He did not report a work accident.

In March 2015, the man was evaluated by a neurologist. He complained of neck, middle and lower back pain and confusion due to the work accident. At that evaluation, he denied any history of neck or back pain or similar injuries before the accident. He didn’t mention the baseball bat incident.

On Nov. 11, 2015, the man got an examination from a neurosurgeon. He complained of pain radiating down his right leg, lower back, cervical spine, shoulder and right facial pain. During this evaluation, he claimed the Nov. 2, 2014 accident was the source of his symptoms.

Although the JCC determined that the man had committed multiple misrepresentations in his testimony, the JCC ultimately declined to terminate his entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. The appellate court, however, disagreed and reversed its ruling.

Each year, thousands of people are involved in work-related accidents in the workplace. In many cases, these injuries can have serious financial consequences in addition to creating health issues that could keep employees from earning a living and supporting their families for certain periods of time.

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A former employee is suing Fields Motorcars of Florida Inc. for alleged age discrimination and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint on June 27 in the Orange County Circuit Court, alleging that Fields Motorcars of Florida Inc. breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he suffered economic damages on Jan. 26, 2016 as a result of being terminated from his employment. He was allegedly fired due to a single complaint from a customer about his driving.

The man holds Fields Motorcars of Florida Inc. responsible for allegedly acting with malice and reckless disregard for his protected rights, and for allegedly terminated him in bad faith without reasonable grounds.

State and federal laws are set in place to prevent employers from discriminating against individuals or treating them unfairly in the workplace based on factors such as age, gender, race, national origin, and religion. Florida law is quite clear: mistreating workers is unfair and any type of discrimination is illegal. Employers who mistreat their workers can be subjected to various civil and sometimes even criminal punishments.

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A Broward County tax return preparer pleaded guilty recently to conspiring to file and filing fraudulent tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

According to documents filed with the court, the 41-year-old man owned two tax preparation businesses in Lauderhill with two other men.

From approximately 2010 through 2016, the three men apparently filed fraudulent returns for their clients seeking refunds to which the clients were not entitled, by reporting fictitious business income, fraudulent education and fuel tax credits and claiming deceased individuals as dependents. They also filed returns in the names of individuals whose identities had been stolen. The man apparently admitted to causing a tax loss of more than $550,000.

The man is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 6. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of five years in prison on the conspiracy count and a maximum sentence of three years in prison on the false return count. He also faces a period of supervised release, restitution and monetary penalties.

The other two men involved are scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 22.

The Tax fraud involved in the above discussed scheme involve some sort of data breach to gain access to employee’s W-2’s. There are several simple things you can do to avoid being victimized and protect your employees’ data, including::

  • Control access to payroll data and other sensitive information. Make sure that only people who really need sensitive data information have access to it. Limiting who can see this information, can eliminate any breaches.
  • Consider requiring a second step to authenticate requests for sensitive data before it can be released. A lot of these breaches happen when employees divulge other employees’ W-2 information to criminals. Should someone request W-2 information, it is beneficial to implement protocol that that employee speak to the person requesting the information before releasing it.
  • Make employees aware of various scams circulating regarding data security. Arm your employees with any “red flag” information so that they know when something seems odd. Always encourage them to ask questions or get help if something does not seem right.

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