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people-2568603_640-150x150A Michigan Senate investigation into Sen. Pete Lucido’s behavior found allegations of sexual harassment by several women to be credible, according to reports. 

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey added in a statement that the investigation found “inappropriate workplace behavior.”

As a result, Lucido has been stripped of a committee chairmanship and ordered to undergo training.

“In January, I directed the Senate to retain outside counsel to lead an investigation into several allegations made against Senator Lucido. Outside counsel and the Senate Business Office undertook a thorough and exhaustive investigation into allegations made against the senator and found the senator’s conduct to be ‘inappropriate workplace behavior,” Shirkey’s statement reads. 

Earlier this year Lucido faced three public accusations of sexual harassment. 

The allegations began when a reporter for Michigan Advance wrote an article alleging an inappropriate comment Lucido made about her in front of a group of high school boys. 

He reportedly told her in front of the group of boys that they “could have a lot of fun” with her. 

Sen. Lucido initially apologized for what he called a “misunderstanding” and for offending the female reporter. But then he said he never made that comment at all. 

Democratic senator Mallory McMorrow and a regulatory affairs specialist for a trade group made similar comments. 

McMorrow filed a sexual harassment complaint against Lucido. Lucido reportedly told her he “could see why” she beat her male incumbent while looking her up and down.

The regulatory affairs specialist reported that Lucido commented on her appearance while touching her lower back. 

Lucido has yet to make a comment regarding the allegations against him. 

This case shows that sexual harassment is everywhere. In the United States, every employee has the right to work in an environment without being treated unfairly or harassed on the basis of sex. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a huge problem across the United States and our Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to help victims of this type of abuse hold their abuser resposible for their actions. 

Both federal and state laws define sexual harassment as actions that can apply to either males or females in situations involving the same sex or opposite sex. Sexual harassment affects men and women alike and includes a variety of behaviors and actions such as:

  • Touching someone inappropriately
  • Promising job advancement in exchange for sexual or romantic activities
  • Engaging in uninvited “x-rated” conversations
  • Provocative gestures
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Requests for sexual favors

When these types of instances are reported to management, but nothing is done, a sexual harassment claim is only strengthened. If you feel that any of these examples sound like something you have personally gone through, we urge you to contact our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton right awat for a free initial consultation.

We cannot stress this enough: if you have or believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment or another form of discrimination in a Florida workplace, you do not have to simply ignore it, cut your losses, and move on. Harassment and discrimination by coworkers, managers, or employers is illegal in the state of Florida and you have every right to take legal action to right these wrongs.

At Whittel & Melton, our Florida Employment Attorneys understand that sexual harassment is a traumatic experience and something that not every victim feels comfortable talking about it. That is why our firm is sensitive and understanding when it comes to these cases. We will always treat you with compassion, respect, and dignity. We know how difficult it can be to come forward with a sexual harassment claim, which is why we will stand by your side and walk you through every single step of the legal process.

Our Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton have a deep understanding of sexual harassment and discrimination cases throughout the state of Florida. We know the applicable Florida laws and the courtroom processes that must be followed to make sure that you receive a fair judgment or settlement in these types of cases. We will assess your claim for free and help you determine the best course of action for recovering financial compensation.

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A cook who worked in a Disney-owned restaurant has sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for allegedly retaliating against her after she filed a sexual harassment complaint.

The woman, who prepared food at Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the summer of 2018, filed a federal discrimination suit in Florida’s middle district court. She alleged that a chef who supervised her harassed her, touching her inappropriately and making crude jokes.

Disney transferred the chef so that he no longer supervised the woman but then fired her after her other managers retaliated against her, the woman alleged in the complaint.

A Belleair Bluffs financial services firm is facing a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination on the basis of gender, disability and religious affiliation as well as allegations of sexual harassment.

The harassment claims target former Tampa Bay Lighting President Ron Campbell.

A former executive administrative assistant for Seminole Financial Services is suing the firm for back pay, front pay and compensatory damages in a lawsuit filed in Pinellas County Court Feb. 6. 

The allegations in the suit have not been tried and have not yet been proven.

The woman began working for Seminole Financial in 2001, but took a three year leave of absence to battle breast cancer from 2014-2017. She returned to the firm in 2017. After her return, she claims Campbell consistently made sexual innuendos in conversation.

Among those, she claims, Campbell frequently discussed his use of erectile dysfunction medication and, at one point, insinuated the woman take a hot shower with him.

When the woman brought the offending statements up with another female, she was allegedly told, “get used to it, Mr. Campbell is the type of guy that will smack you on your a** and go on with his day.”

In another instance, the woman said a female employee asked her if she kept rosary beads at her desk as “all good Catholic girls” do. The woman explained that she was not Catholic and then was told she had fallen out of “the flock.”

Eventually, the woman said she complained about the harassment, but her complaint was ignored. She then went to the another company executive and had a closed-door meeting to discuss her complaints, but was similarly dismissed with little recourse for her concerns.

When the woman learned she required another surgery to treat her cancer, the company informed her that they were removing her from the company’s insurance plan because she was costing them too much money.

The woman was subsequently terminated, she claims because of her medical disability, religious affiliation and in retribution for her complaints about harassment. The complaint argues that her termination violated the Florida Civil Rights Act.

Under the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992 (FCRA), Florida employers are prohibited from discrimination against employees on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status. When a Florida employee believes that they have been discriminated against at work, it may be possible to file an employment discrimination lawsuit.

What Are the Differences Between The Florida Civil Rights Act & Federal Laws? 

  • Company Size: Under federal law, an employer is defined as employing 20 or more people during any given year. In Florida, a company only needs to have 15 employees in order to be held to the strictest of employment laws.
  • Individual Liability: Due to the necessary company size under federal law, some Florida employers may not be individually responsible for certain statutes. The FCRA requires ALL employers to be liable for discrimination against persons seeking licenses, certificates, credentials, to pass an examination, or to become a member of a club, where those accomplishments are required in order to engage in a profession, occupation or trade.
  • The FCRA does not define disability or handicap.
  • The FCRA does address pregnancy.
  • Unlike federal laws, the FCRA discriminates against marital status.

Florida is an “at-will” employer, meaning an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences. All Florida employees need to understand what protections civil rights laws afford them. If you need help, our Florida Employment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here to assist you. We have the knowledge and experience to deal with all types of civil rights issues.

Employers can break the law in numerous ways. We can help you better understand the differences between what is unfair and what is illegal. 

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Flagler Hospital, a nonprofit hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., has been ordered to pay $107,185 in back wages to 141 employees for violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Feb. 5.

After an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD), investigators found the hospital automatically deducted time from emergency room and labor and delivery employees’ timecards for meal breaks even when they worked through those breaks. This unpaid work time resulted in overtime being due when it occurred in workweeks longer than 40 hours. By improperly deducting the time, the employer also produced inaccurate records of the number of hours employees actually worked, violating FLSA recordkeeping requirements.

“Non-profit organizations are not excluded from the pay requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act,” said Wage and Hour District Director Daniel White, in Jacksonville, Florida. “Employees must be paid all the wages they have legally earned. We encourage all employers to reach out to us for assistance and to use the variety of tools we offer to ensure that their pay practices comply with federal law.”

The department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the Wage and Hour Division, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd.

WHD’s mission is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Nonprofits should have to understand the critical importance of employee classifications and how to make the determination between exempt and nonexempt employees in order to avoid law violations. 

Understanding the Fair Labor Standards Act, which guarantees a minimum wage and overtime pay for many workers in the United States is very important for nonprofits. To properly comply with the law and treat employees fairly, nonprofits need to know which employees are exempt and which are not.

Who Is Considered an Exempt Employee?

Before a worker can be considered an exempt employee, which means they are ineligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, three factors must be met:

  • Salary basis. The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that can’t be reduced based on variations in the amount of work performed.
  • Salary level. The employee’s salary must meet or exceed a specified minimum.
  • Duties. The employee’s work must primarily involve executive, administrative or professional duties. There are exceptions to this rule. For example, certain computer professionals, salespeople and other generously compensated employees may meet these requirements.

To be clear on whether an employee is exempt from overtime pay or not, a salary or a professional job title isn’t enough. To be considered an exempt employee, they must meet all three requirements.

All other workers are considered nonexempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act, which means they must receive at least minimum wage (currently $8.56 per hour in Florida) and get paid at least one and one-half times the regular rate for any hours beyond 40 in a single working week.

It is important to point out that hospitals, schools and preschools, government agencies and businesses that provide medical or nursing care for residents are covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act regardless of annual sales or nonprofit status. 

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The owner and manager of a Plantation IHOP will pay $70,000 to settle federal secual harassment suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

The owner denies he did anything wrong with female employee who said he repeatedly asked her for dates, kisses and sex. 

The consent decree requires the man, who owns the IHOP at 2 N. State Rd. 7 through his Swami Pancake company, to do three hours of one-on-one anti-sexual harassment/sex discrimination management training annually for three years. The man’s wife and assistant manager also have to go through the same training.

According to the EEOC suit, the employee worked at the man’s IHOP restaurant from October 2009 through October 2017. Throughout her time there, she claimed, she and other women there suffered from the man’s incessant, unwanted mating attention.

The man is accused of sitting in the restaurant parking lot and waiting for the woman to finish her shift in order to make sexual advances to her, invite her to dinner, or for sex, while she was isolated from other employees and customers, according to the suit. He is also accused of parking his car to block the woman’s car so that she could not drive her car. The suit claims he would yell, ‘Why won’t you kiss me?’ and threatened, ‘I won’t let you go home until you kiss me.’

It is illegal for a supervisor or co-worker to make unwanted sexual advances towards another person in the workplace. It is also illegal for a supervisor or co-worker to subject another person to hostile work environment based on sex.

Sexual harassment is usually thought of as unwelcome sexual advances. And while that is part of it, there is so much more that falls under the umbrella of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be comments of a sexual nature, sexual innuendos, lewd or sexist remarks, sexual jokes, questions or comments about intimate relationships, inappropriate comments about physical appearance, and viewing, showing or discussing pornography.

Some other examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Sexual assault or unwelcome physical touching that is sexual in nature
  • Proposing employment advances or hiring for sexual acts (“quid pro quo”)
  • Visual harassment by displaying sexually explicit objects, cartoons or pictures
  • Verbal abuse by sexually offensive comments and degrading words
  • Making sexual advances or propositions, physically or verbally
  • Making gender-related comments about a person’s appearance or mannerisms
  • Bullying someone using gender-related comments or conduct
  • Treating a person badly because they do not conform to gender roles
  • Emails with sexual innuendos
  • Supervisor or co-worker watching porn in the workplace
  • Supervisor or co-worker asking questions about your personal life or touching you inappropriately

In cases of sexual harassment, it is very important to keep detailed records of each offensive incident. Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton recommend making notes of the time, date and underlying facts of each incident, including any actions you or your company took, as well as copies of all related correspondence or complaints.

Florida laws require an employer to provide a workplace environment free from harassment. Likewise, once employers are notified about any harassment, they are obligated to rectify it. If your company fails to resolve the issue, your next step is to enlist the help of an attorney who can walk you through the process of filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 

The law forbids retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment and/or object to or refuse unwanted advances. Retaliation may occur through wrongful termination, unjustified discipline, refusal to promote, demotion, reduction in hours or work, denial of a bonus or raise, transfer to a less desirable shift, or exposure to other less favorable conditions of employment. 

Our Florida Sexual Harassment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to support you if you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work. We negotiate mediate, and litigate claims of sexual harassment and retaliation for employeers complaining of or objecting to sexual harassment. If you believe you are being sexually harassed at work, we urge you to discuss your concerns with us in confidence through a completely free consultation. Taking this first step can provide you with the knowledge you need as it pertains to sexual harassment laws and what can be done to protecting your rights as an employee. We are here to educate you about your rights and offer you sound legal guidance. 

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Uber  has agreed to pay a $4.4 million fine to settle a 2017 charge from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission pertaining to sex discrimination and retaliation.

The investigation found reasonable cause to believe that Uber “permitted a culture of sexual harassment and retaliation against individuals who complained about such harassment,” the EEOC wrote in a press release. The EEOC  launched the investigation following reports pertaining to Uber’s workplace while under the leadership of then CEO Travis Kalanick.

“We’ve worked hard to ensure that all employees can thrive at Uber by putting fairness and accountability at the heart of who we are and what we do,” Uber Chief Legal Officer Tony West said in a statement. “I am extremely pleased that we were able to work jointly with the EEOC in continuing to strengthen these efforts.”

As part of the settlement, Uber will divvy up the $4.4 million to anyone who the EEOC determines experienced sexual harassment and/or retaliation at Uber after January 1, 2014. Uber also agreed to establish a system to identify employees who have been the subject of more than one harassment complaint, as well as identify managers who have not responded to sexual harassment concerns in a timely manner.

For the next three years, Uber will also face monitoring by former EEOC Commissioner Fred Alvarez.

“This agreement holds Uber accountable, and, going forward, positions the company to innovate and transform the tech industry by modeling effective measures against sexual harassment and retaliation,” EEOC Commissioner Victoria Lipnic said in a statement.

Now, a claims administrator will send notices to every female employee who worked at Uber at any point between January 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019. If that’s you, you’ll be able to respond to that notice to make your claim. The EEOC will then determine who is eligible for monetary relief.

The Civil Rights Act protects all employees from any type of sexual harassment in the workplace. In addition to harassment, this law also protects employees from retaliation. Retaliation happens when an employer punishes an employee for filing complaints regarding sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace. What many people do not know is that there are various federal laws in place that protect workers against retaliation and establish the rights of “whistleblowers” (people who file complaints about unsafe workplaces). 

Retaliation can take on numerous forms, including:

  • Demotion
  • Salary reduction
  • Job termination
  • Refusal of a raise
  • Denial of promotion
  • Missed training opportunities
  • Job reassignment
  • Less desirable schedule
  • Poor performance review
  • Micromanagement
  • Exclusion from staff activities

What is important to understand is that not all adverse employer actions are retaliation. In order to establish grounds for a lawsuit, retaliation must have a negative impact on your employment. If you have reason to believe that an employer, manager, or another person in your workplace is retaliating against you for filing a complaint against them, our Florida Whistleblower and Retaliation Attorneys at Whittel & Melton urge you to reach out to us so that we can help with your claim. We have offices scattered throughout Florida and can take cases from anywhere in the state. Our staff of lawyers can investigate your claim and help you understand if retaliation is taking place and what we can do to help it stop. By working with us, we can show you how to get back on your feet and obtain justice for being harrassed, discriminated against, and/or retaliated against at work. 

When you obtain legal counsel from a law firm, you are taking a giant step in the right direction towards eliminitating sexual harassment in the workplace. Our Florida Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton have extensive knowledge and experience with all workplace issues and will be able to provide valuable insight into your unique situation.

When we build a retaliation case, we must be able to demonstrate and prove there is a connection between your recent sexual harassment or discrimination complaint and your employer’s adverse actions. As soon as you suspect retaliation, we urge you to start documenting everything. Take record of each and every time something retaliatory occurs. This may include keeping copies of reports or emails that can help your case, like a positive performance review prior to the complaint and a negative one after. The more information you have to support your claim, the stronger your case may be.

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Under federal and state laws, disabled people are a protected class. These laws make it illegal for employers to discharge, fail to promote, fail to hire, or otherwise treat the person differently because of a physical or mental disability so long as that person is able to perform the job. These laws also require employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with any physical or mental disabilities.

A recent settlement involving Walmart highlights disability discrimination in the workplace. 

Walmart Inc. will pay $80,000 and implement nationwide changes to its disability reassignment policy to settle a disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment  Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to the federal agency. 

The EEOC’s lawsuit claims that Walmart violated federal law by failing to reassign a long- term employee at its Augusta, Maine location to vacant positions in its  Waterville or Thomaston, Maine locations after she became disabled. The lawsuit alleged that the disbaled woman, who had worked for Walmart since 1999, developed a disability that, according to Walmart,  prevented her from continuing to work in a sales associate position in Augusta. Walmart determined that the only positions that could accommodate her disability were fitting room associate and people greeter. While there were no such positions vacant in Augusta, there were two fitting room associate positions open in Waterville and one in Thomaston. Walmart’s policy, however, was to search for open positions only in the store where the employee had been working. Because of this, Walmart did not transfer the woman to the positions in  Waterville or Thomaston, which she would have happily accepted. As a result, the woman never worked for Walmart again.

The  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits employers from discriminating based on disability and imposes a requirement that employees with disabilities be provided a reasonable accommodation, absent undue hardship on the employer. The ADA states that one of these accommodations is reassignment to a vacant position.

The  EEOC filed its suit (Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00170-JDL) in U.S. District  Court for the District of Maine in Bangor after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

As  part of the settlement, Walmart will change its policy so associates with a disability that are eligible  for job reassignment under the ADA as a reasonable accommodation can request that Walmart search at up to five stores beyond  an associate’s then-current store location (“home store”) or in the home store’s entire market. The revised procedures will be applied to all hourly field associates working in Walmart retail stores in the United States.

Walmart is also enjoined from failing to offer to reassign a qualified individual with a disability to a vacant position. Finally, the woman will receive payment of $80,000.

“Federal law requires employers to reassign employees with a disability to vacant positions as the reasonable accommodation of last resort,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for the EEOC’s New York District Office.  “We are very pleased that this lawsuit, which arose from a single employee’s complaint, resulted in the nationwide change we sought, and we applaud Walmart for making that change.”

EEOC New York District  Director Kevin Berry added,  “Employers cannot refuse to offer a reasonable accommodation required by law absent undue hardship. This case demonstrates that looking beyond the home store  for a vacant position is not an undue hardship.”

The EEOC’s New York District  Office oversees New York, Northern New Jersey,  Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. 

The law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. These accommodations can include:

  • Medical leave or even the extension of medical leave
  • Allowing an employee to work from home
  • Reassigning to an available position
  • Modified equipment or devices
  • Modified work schedules
  • Adjustment of policies or additional training
  • Interpreters or any other required assistance
  • Accessible workspace

Once an employee tells their employer that they have a disability that requires accommodations, there are certain state laws that kick in requiring an interactive process between the employer and the employee. In the state of Florida, this interactive process requires the employer to communicate with the employee in selecting an appropriate accommodation. The best way to initiate this process is for the employee to request a reasonable accommodation. This interactive process involves various things, such as analyzing the particular job involved to determine the essential functions, speaking with the employee to learn their job-related limitations, talking with the employee to identify potential accommodations and get their preferences as far as the job duties are concerned. 

Reasonable accommodations can include things such as making existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to individuals with disabilities, restructuring jobs, modifying the position to part-time, modifications of equipment used, adjusting the training materials and policies related to the job, and/or providing qualified readers or interpreters.

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A pair of Las Vegas attorneys settled a federal legal malpractice lawsuit against a former Pure nightclub cocktail waitress, who claimed she was attacked by the son of a Caesars Entertainment Corp. executive and former Las Vegas mayor. 

The confidential settlement between the woman and the attorneys was reached Tuesday, just days before the case was set for a jury trial, according to court records.

The woman had hired the law partners to represent her in a personal injury case against a man who attacked her on Jan. 4, 2009 at Caesars Palace, where she worked as a cocktail server. The suit also named Pure and Caesars Entertainment as defendants. 

The 2014 lawsuit identifies resulted in the woman suing her attorneys on claims of legal malpractice, breach of fiduciary duty and deceptive trade practices. According to the suit, one of the attorneys had conflicts of interest when his firm was hired to represent the woman in the personal injury case.

The attorney was also representing a Pure executive in a tax evasion case at the time, according to the malpractice suit.

According to the malpractice suit, the defendants’ errors forced the woman to settle for $225,000, which was less than 5 percent of McKenna’s actual damages.

Another law firm helped the woman settle her personal injury case. She had hired the firm to replace her original attorney’s firm on the case after more than four years.

Pure Management Group fired the woman in 2012 “due to physical and cognitive disabilities resulting from her attack,” according to the lawsuit.

At the nightclub early one morning in January 2009, the man who attacked her asked the woman to sit on his lap, and when she “refused his advances and turned to leave, the man pulled her into his lap,” the lawsuit said. After he “lunged at her, placed his hands around her throat, and began choking and shaking her,” the lawsuit alleged, the woman “blacked out and fell.”

Your workplace should be a safe place where you can perform your job duties worry free. A workplace should never be a hostile environment where acts of violence are carried out by other co-workers, managers and owners, or persons from the outside.  However, the sad truth is that workplace environments can be dangerous and acts of violence including assault and battery, sexual assaults, and gun shootings do happen. When these acts occur, workplace injuries and fatalities can easily happen. 

Workplace violence may include:

  • Sexual Harassment
  • Intimidation and Bullying
  • Intentional Emotional Pain or Psychological Trauma
  • Sexual Assault 
  • Sexual Battery
  • Assault and Battery, including unwanted grabbing, pulling of hair, hitting, and punching

Many times, the above types of acts go unreported because employees are worried about losing their jobs. You should not have to endure working in an unsafe environment, and our Florida Employment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can help you if you have found yourself in these types of situations.

There are certain industries that are more susceptible to suffering from workplace violence. Some industries where workers may be victims of workplace violence may include:

  • Bar and Nightclub Workers
  • Liquor store and convenient store employees working late night shifts
  • Health care workers in hospitals
  • Social workers
  • Prison Guards and Security Guards Workers
  • Maids and nannies
  • State and Federal Government employees
  • Firemen and Police officers
  • School Teachers, coaches, and administrative staff

Our Employment Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help protect victims of workplace violence. If you have been a victim of a violent act in the workplace you may be entitled to recovery for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, future medical bills and prescriptions, loss of income, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and mental anguish. 

As with any type of workplace issue, such as sexual harassment or discrimination, if an employer became aware of a situation of a hostile work environment, but failed to further investigate, intervene, or otherwise address the issue, they may also be held responsible for the actions of an employee. Employers have certain duties to keep their employees safe, and when you are subjected to violence at work, you have the right to pursue legal action for justice. 

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The single most frequent wage and hour violation our Florida Unpaid Wage and Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton see involves the failure to pay overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week. Despite the Fair Labor Standards Act and nearly identical Florida state laws, every year employers attempt to cheat workers out of hundreds of millions of dollars in overtime compensation. 

This is exactly what happened in a recent case conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). Memos Painting & Drywall Inc. – based in Orlando, Florida – will pay $107,890 in back wages to 101 employees for violating the overtime requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

WHD investigators found the residential and commercial painting contractor violated the FLSA overtime requirements when the employer paid employees straight-time rates for all hours that they worked. This created overtime violations when employees worked more than 40 hours in a workweek but the employer did not pay overtime. Memos Painting & Drywall Inc. also failed to maintain accurate payroll records, a violation of the FLSA recordkeeping provision.

“Failing to pay required overtime shorts workers and puts an employer’s law-abiding competitors at an economic disadvantage,” said Wage and Hour District Director Daniel White, in Jacksonville, Florida. “The Jacksonville Wage and Hour Division office is available to help employers understand their obligations and avoid violations like those found in this case. We invite anyone with questions to call or visit us for assistance.”

The Department offers numerous resources to ensure employers have the tools they need to understand their responsibilities and to comply with federal law, such as online videos, confidential calls, or in-person visits to local WHD offices.

For more information about the FLSA and other laws enforced by the WHD, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Employers who discover overtime or minimum wage violations may self-report and resolve those violations without litigation through the PAID program. Information is also available at https://www.dol.gov/whd.

The mission of WHD is to promote and achieve compliance with labor standards to protect and enhance the welfare of the nation’s workforce. WHD enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act. WHD also enforces the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the Employee Polygraph Protection Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, wage garnishment provisions of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, and a number of employment standards and worker protections as provided in several immigration related statutes. Additionally, WHD administers and enforces the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis Bacon Act and the Service Contract Act and other statutes applicable to federal contracts for construction and for the provision of goods and services.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

Employers often use unfair tactics to avoid paying overtime that are not always so obvious on the surface. Overtime pay problems can be less obvious than simply failing to pay time and a half for more than 40 hours of work. Employers may bend the rules to work in their favor and deny workers their right to the money they have earned. Common tactics include:

  • Exempt overtime violations
  • Overtime comp time programs
  • Mandatory overtime violations
  • Pre and post-shift off the clock work violations
  • Trading vacation pay for comp time
  • Overtime bank violations
  • Landscaping workers entitled to overtime pay
  • Restaurant worker overtime violations
  • Independent contractor status violations

Overtime pay, also called “time and a half pay,”  is one and a half times an employee’s normal hourly wage. Florida’s overtime minimum wage is $12.69 per hour, one and a half times the regular Florida minimum wage of $8.46 per hour. 

Overtime is based on the total number of hours worked in a given 7-day period. It is not extended to weekends or holidays. Overtime is not based on the number of hours worked in a particular day. So even if you work 10 hours on a Tuesday, you are not entitled to overtime just because you worked more than the normal, 8-hour workday. Overtime only applies if you work more than 40 hours during the entire workweek.

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Following a DUI arrest, many people start to wonder what the consequences will be. Will they go to jail? Will they be able to drive? Will they be fired from their job? While all of these scenarios are possible, whether or not you will be fired from your job depends on a variety of factors such as what kind of job you have, and what the company employment policies are for criminal offense records that include DUI-related arrests. Another important thing to note is that an employer may decide to terminate a person’s employment for any reason, however that does not mean they always have a legal basis to do so.

An Orange County Sheriff’s deputy was fired last month after his March DUI arrest, when authorities allege they found his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit to drive. 

The 56-year-old former deputy was in his truck about 3:30 a.m. March 18 when a Winter Garden police officer noticed him stopped beyond a crosswalk at an intersection, according to an OCSO internal affairs investigation. The truck did not move for two full cycles of the traffic signal and, when the officer walked to the driver’s side, she said she found the man with his head slumped on his chest with the truck still in drive.

The officer claims she repeatedly banged on the window and got no response from the man. When he awoke, the truck rolled further into the intersection, where cross traffic was traveling at 45 mph, according to reports.

The Winter Garden officer requested an ambulance for the man to make sure he was not in distress. After he was medically cleared, the officer began field sobriety tests with the former deputy, all of which she said he failed, including a one-leg stand and heel-to-toe steps.

She claims the man had red watery eyes and a strong smell of alcohol on him, as well as slurred speed. 

The man later consented to a breath test, which recorded his blood alcohol content at 0.165 and 0.179, the report said. Both are more than twice Florida’s legal limit to drive, 0.08.

The man, a deputy since 1996, was not on duty and was driving his personal vehicle at the time of his arrest. He had most recently been assigned to the agency’s special operations division in aviation, but had not been performing law enforcement duties since his arrest, the report said.

In May, the man pleaded no contest to reckless driving, after multiple attempts to suppress evidence from the traffic stop, court records show. He was sentenced to one day in jail, a DUI class and 75 hours of community service, all of which he completed.

The man was found in violation of the OCSO’s policy on conforming to laws.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor and reports indicate that there are other OCSO personnel who have been arrested on DUI and not fired.

The man appealed his firing, but an administrative review upheld it. He is still awaiting a final decision from the Disciplinary Appeal Board, according to reports. 

If you are worried about getting fired after a drunk or drugged driving arrest, the best thing you can do is get legal help from our Florida Employment Law Attorneys at Whittel & Melton so that we can examine your arrest and make sure you do not make any potential mistakes when you meet with your employer to discuss the incident.

We understand just how much a DUI arrest and a person’s job can suddenly become two major problems to deal with. We have helped many drivers in your same predicament figure out how to handle these two separate, but related issues. 

The first step is to let us review your case information to see if we can legally protect your employment rights. Once we do, we can go over all of your options when alerting your employer about your arrest. If your employment duties require you to be able to drive for the company, or if you drive a company car, then you have to inform your employer of the DUI-related arrest offense immediately, as well as the possibility of a driver’s license suspension.

Most companies will need to be updated on any further happenings with your DUI matter. Let’s say a person was arrested for a DUI and did not tell their employer and continued to drive a company vehicle while their driver’s license was suspended, that person could very well be fired for their actions. Failing to disclose an arrest or license suspension is considered reasonable cause for an employee’s termination.

You may also be wondering if you can get fired for DUI even if you have not gone to court or been convicted. The answer is yes, it is possible, as many employers have company policies regarding DUI arrests and subsequent convictions regarding their employees.

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