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Chipotle has agreed upon paying $15 million to settle a class action suit from 4,838 apprentices at the burrito chain claiming that the company misclassified them as employees who were salaried, therefore, forfeiting their right to collect overtime pay. 

Reports indicated that Chipotle apprentices are likened to entry-level managers who work 50 to 55 hours a week, but they only make $1 to $2 more than hourly employees who are eligible for overtime pay and typically work the same amount of hours. 

The class action was started in 2017 after the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) updated their laws to include overtime pay for employees who are not executives, administrative staff or make less than $47,476 per year. 

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released the numbers covering the 67,448 incidents of workplace discrimination in Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. 

The agency was able to secure $439.2 million for victims of discrimination in FY 2020. You can view the specific breakdowns here

In FY 2020, the EEOC resolved 70,804 charges and responded to more than 470,000 calls to its toll-free hotline, which shows how in demand the public is for EEOC’s services.  

Retaliation remained the most frequently cited claim for FY 2020, and accounted for 55.8 percent of all charges filed. Disability, race and sex followed as top charges. Below are the most frequently filed charges to the least throughout the U.S. for FY 2020:

  1. Retaliation – 37,632 charges filed
  2. Disability – 24,324 charges filed
  3. Race – 22,064 charges filed
  4. Sex – 21,398 charges filed
  5. Age – 14,183 charges filed
  6. National Origin – 6,377 charges filed
  7. Color – 3,562 charges filed
  8. Religion – 2,404 charges filed
  9. Equal Pay Act – 980 charges filed
  10. Genetic Information – 440 charges filed

men-1979261_1920-300x200The EEOC did say that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession has presented many challenges for American workers. The public health crisis and economic crisis has turned into a civil rights crisis which has disproportionately impacted older workers, women, people of color, individuals with disabilities, and other vulnerable workers. 

EEOC legal staff recovered more than $106 million for victims in FY 2020, the largest recovery they have made in the past 16 years. They have been successful in 95.8 percent of all their district court resolutions.

The state of Florida saw 5,868 total charges for FY 2020, according to the reports filed by the EEOC. This adds up to 8.7% of the total U.S. charges. Here is the breakdown of cases

  • Race – 1713
  • Sex – 1866
  • National Origin – 824
  • Religion – 206
  • Color – 316
  • Retaliation – 3556
  • Age – 1144
  • Disability – 2136
  • Equal Pay Act – 34
  • GINA (Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits genetic information discrimination in the workplace) – 5

Workplace discrimination and retaliation remain illegal in the workplace, but as you can see from the information above, still happen at an alarming rate. These cases are not always easy to fight, or win for that matter, but in order to obtain full and fair compensation for your suffering, you need the very best team of lawyers fighting in your corner. Our Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are leaders in workplace discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. We have a successful track record handling cases involving sexual harassment, unpaid wages and overtime, wrongful termination, FMLA violations, class action suits, retaliation claims, and everything in between. We know how these types of workplace violations can disrupt both your personal and professional life, which is why we fight aggressively for our clients to be able to collect the just compensation they are owed to move forward with their careers and life. 

What Can I Expect in a First Meeting with a Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyer at Whittel & Melton? 

When you first meet with our Florida Employment Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton, we will make sure to hear out what is happening to you and then provide you with our feedback on potential legal theories. We do ask that you bring in any relevant documentation you have related to the incidents so that we can fully review your claim. You may be able to bring a claim under more than one employment law, such as you may have a sexual harassment claim as well as a retaliation claim. Whatever claim fits your case, we will help guide you through the legal process and make sure you understand our strategy and what types of damages that can be pursued against your employer. 

Before we make the decision to work together, we will also explain how our fees work as we take employment law cases on a contingency fee basis. Your consultation with us is free and we will never charge you anything to review your case. 

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Disney has asked an L.A. judge to throw out a lawsuit involving claims of sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation filed on behalf of Criminal Minds workers by California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) due to the case being what Disney calls “hopelessly vague.”

DFEH sued Disney, ABC, and other companies and individuals connected to its claims in May 2020. DFEH has made allegations that the director of photography Greg St. Johns ignited sexual harassment and discrimination claims against a group of people, including Anthony Matulic and Dauv McNeely, who worked on the production set for the TV series Criminal Minds. 

Disney filed a demurrer to the complaint on Jan. 12 asking the L.A. County Superior Court judge to review DFEH’s suit and establish if the vagueness of their class definition and omission of detail could limit their opportunity to investigate all alleged claims and defend themselves properly.  

An attorney for Disney called the lawsuit a trial by ambush as DFEH’s class action suit wishes to include any person who ever worked on the TV show Criminal Minds at any time, which makes it impossible to know who eyewitnesses will be, what the issues will be, and what documents will be relevant to the case.  

cinema-5760214_1920-300x200Criminal Minds was in production for over 12 years and more than 10,000 people worked on the series that has more than 14 seasons. 

Some of the alleged complaints in the suit include Matulic resisting a butt slap, McNeely being threatened with physical violence, an unnamed crew member being pantsed, and some other unidentified men on the set were subject to unwanted touching, kisses, or caresses by St. John, according to reports. 

A hearing on the demurrer, which you can read here, is currently set for Feb. 17.

U.S. Federal Laws provide every person with the right to work in an environment that is free of sexual harassment, discrimination, harassment, etc. based on their personal identity. Sexua harassment can be many things, but this term basically refers to an employer, co-worker, or supervisor creating a hostile work environment based on a person’s gender. 

If you or someone you know has been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, our Florida Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Whittel & Melton strongly encourage you to speak with us about your experiences. As employment attorneys handling all types of workplace issues, we know firsthand how sexual harassment can cause physical and psychological harm as well as create economic losses due to lost wages and also missed opportunities for workplace advancement. We are trusted employment attorneys who will give your case the attention it deserves and treat you with nothing but respect. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has established that no employee can be the subject of harassment or discrimination in the workplace based on sex, religion, skin color, nationality, or sexual orientation.Sexual harassment, like we mentioned before can embody many different actions, like unwelcome sexual advances, sexual jokes/references, sexual gestures, pressure from another co-worker or supervisor to perform sexual favors, or even another employee posting sexual content in visible common places of the shared workplace. Sexual harassment can cross over to sexual assault when unwelcome sexual physical contact is made, such as a slap on the butt, a kiss, or a lingering hand on the back. On the other hand, sexual discrimination refers to an employent decisions that are based on an employee’s sex, like promotions, pay rates, raises, transfers, assignments to special projects, etc. A sexual discrimination or harassment lawsuit may reward an employee with lost wages and benefits that they should have received had they not been subjected to harassment or discrimination in the workplace.  Continue reading

Florida’s minimum wage will be going up throughout the next six years, and will ultimately reach $15 an hour. 

More than 60% of Florida voters approved Amendment 2 on November 3, 2020, which amends Florida’s Constitution and increases the minimum wage in the state. With this new mandate comes new changes that you should be aware of. In September 2021, Florida’s current minimum wage of $8.56 an hour will be increased to $10 an hour. Every year after the minimum wage will increase by $1 until 2026 when it reaches $15 an hour. 

Who does the minimum wage rate affect? 

All public and private sector employees – the size or number of employees has no bearing on the minimum wage rate. 

bank-note-941246_1920-300x225What do employers need to know about the new minimum wage rates? 

Here is the hourly minimum wage schedule that employers should use to pay non-tipped employees: 

  • Now-December 31, 2020 – $8.56
  • January 1, 2021-September 29, 2021 – $8.65
  • September 30, 2021-September 29, 2022 – $10.00
  • September 30, 2022-September 29, 2023 – $11.00
  • September 30, 2023-September 29, 2024 – $12.00
  • September 30, 2024-September 29, 2025 – $13.00
  • September 30, 2025-September 29, 2026 – $14.00
  • September 30, 2026 – $15.00

What happens once the minimum wage reaches $15 an Hour in 2026? 

Starting September 30, 2027, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity will adjust the minimum wage rate annually. They will base their adjustments on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

How Does the Minimum Wage Rate Affect Tipped Employees? 

With the changes to Amendment 2, the allowable tip credit for tipped employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act still allows Florida employers to take a tip credit of up to $3.02 an hour for tipped employees. The tipped employees minimum cash wage rate will follow this schedule: 

  • Now-December 31, 2020 – $5.54 an hour plus tips
  • January 1, 2021-September 29, 2021 – $5.63 an hour plus tips 
  • September 30, 2021-September 29, 2022 – $6.98 an hour plus tips
  • September 30, 2022-September 29, 2023 – $7.98 an hour plus tips
  • September 30, 2023-September 29, 2024 – $8.98 an hour plus tips
  • September 30, 2024-September 29, 2025 – $9.98 an hour plus tips
  • September 30, 2025-September 29, 2026 – $10.98 an hour plus tips
  • September 30, 2026 – $11.98 an hour plus tips

How Many States Have Increased the Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour? 

Eight states have currently raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Florida is the first state in the south and the most recent to join the ranks of California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The state of Florida is actually the first state to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by a citizens’ initiative ballot measure. While similar increases were introduced in the past during the Florida legislative sessions, the measures never passed. 

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A settlement was reached between the Department of Justice and the city of Venice, Fla in a lawsuit that involved racial discrimination against a Black employee.

The lawsuit said that the city of Venice violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for continuously discriminating against a 30-year-old Black employee. The city apparently gave the man disciplinary actions that were unnecessary and unwarranted like two unpaid suspensions. 

The lawsuit alleged that he was fired because of his race. 


The DOJ said that the harsh discipline of this man was unjust and illegal racial discrimination. 

The DOJ also said the city did not have any legitimate reasons for treating the man more harshly than his white coworkers. 

Court documents show that the city disciplined the man nine times in a two-year period. These disciplinary actions included three separate scoldings in one day. According to court records, these disciplinary actions were for minor infractions, such as taking lunch breaks in public parks, workplace rules that were never enforced against the man’s white coworkers. 

The man was ultimately fired by the city without justification, according to reports. He was the only Black employee working in the Parks Division of the city’s Public Works Department. 

The man said he was forced to endure racial slurs, including the use of the n-word, which was used in his presence. He also said his work was always scrutinized and faulted. 

Discrimination in the workplace based on race or the color of a person’s skin are strictly prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Employers cannot discriminate against employees because of their skin color or race for any of the following practices: 

  • Recruiting or hiring a prospective employee
  • Terminating an employee
  • Promoting an employee
  • Paying an employee
  • Training opportunities or other workplace advancements
  • Any condition of employment 

What Constitutes Racial Discrimination in the Workplace? 

There are many things that can fall under the practice of racial discrimination, including but not limited to the following:

  • Finding job applicants from sources that makes sure all applicants, or most of the applicants, are one race. 
  • Creating barriers to job entry that have no correlation to job duties, like requiring a college degree, that is unconnected to the job itself. 
  • An employer asking pre employment questions that lead to answers that would indicate race. 
  • Employers using racial or ethnic slurs in the workplaces. On this same note, employers that allow their employees to use discriminatory slurs in the workplace without consequence. 
  • Keeping employees separated from other worker’s all based on skin color or race. An example of this action could be placing a worker in an undesirable work location all because of the color of their skin. 
  • Paying an employee less than their fellow coworkers who hold the same position and have the same experience, all because of their skin color.
  • Terminating an employee just for their skin color rather than poor work performance or any other legitimate reason for firing an employee. 

There are numerous ways for you to take legal action against your employer for discrimination in the workplace. You need to consult with an employment lawyer in order to understand all of your legal options. Our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are here for you 24/7 to provide you with a free and confidential consultation. You can meet with us in private and no one will ever have to know you spoke with our employment attorneys regarding your rights. If you are worried about retaliation or wrongful termination, we can assure you that you have rights that pertain to these actions as well. We are happy to discuss these with you and assist with numerous employment matters, such as unpaid overtime, discrimination, sexual harassent, and Civil Rights.

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Carlos Dunlap, the defensive end for the Cincinnati Bengals, has spoken out about how he and several other NFL players were recently discriminated against over their skin color when they were participating in an offseason practice in south Florida. 

cincinnati-958841_1280-300x300Dunlap recapped an instance in Fort Lauderdale where he and a group of Black NFL players were asked by a park ranger to exit the area, while another group of white NFL players were allowed to stay and finish up their practice drills. 

Dunlap said it was frustrating and appalling. 

construction-646465_1280-300x201A construction contractor in Crystal Beach, Florida has been found to have violated overtime requirements set forth by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), according to an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD). 

The contractor will pay $16,567 in back wages to five employees. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division investigation found that the contractor paid his employees straight time for all hours, including when they worked over 40 hours in a single workweek. 

The WHD said they hope this sets an example for other employers to reexamine their own pay practices to make sure they are complying with the law. The WHD is set in place to make sure all workers are paid the wages they have legally earned. 

Minimum Wage in Florida 

Currently, the minimum wage requirement in the state of Florida is $8.56 per hour. This number does usually go up at the start of each new year. 

OT Laws in Florida Explained 

Through laws set forth by the FLSA, employers are required to pay at least the minimum wage of $8.56 in Florida for all regular hours worked in a workweek that total to 40. When these hours exceed the standard 40 hour workweek, then employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of time and one half their regular wage, which you can calculate by multiplying your regular pay wage by 1.5. 

Are Salaried Workers Exempt from Collecting OT?

Some employers may tell their salaried workers that they cannot collect OT pay. Whether an employee is being paid hourly or being paid a salary has no bearing on OT pay. A salaried worker is just paid the same wage every pay period. OT eligibility is determined by your classification: are you an exempt or non-exempt employee?

Exempt Vs. Non-Exempt Employees

As we said before, job titles don’t determine a worker’s OT eligibility, but wages and duties do. The general rule is that if an employee makes an annual salary of under $23,600, then they can collect OT. On that same page secretaries, kitchen workers, clerical workers, and employees who are not managers are also usually allowed to collect OT. While there are a few exceptions, most hourly employees should also be able to collect OT. Workers operating on commission can be awarded OT in certain cases, however those that travel regularly may not be entitled to OT. Salaried workers earning under $455 per week are also entitled to OT. Any salaried workers that earn over $455 per work might be eligible for OT unless their job classifies them as exempt – examples of these workers are executive, administrative, computer-related, executive, outside sales, etc. 

Tipped Workers and OT

Bartenders, delivery drivers, and servers are usually permitted OT when they work over 40 hours in a workweek. 

Comp Time Vs. OT

Sometimes an employer will sub out OT pay with comp time when a worker exceeds 40 hours in a workweek, however there are only a few types of employees who are granted comp time, like government employees. Any private employers that are offering comp time as opposed to OT could be in violation FLSA laws. 

Can 1099’s Get OT?

If you receive a 1099 instead of a W-2 you are classified as an independent contractor. This does not necessarily mean you are not allowed to collect OT. Your ability to collect OT all depends on your job duties and what you have arranged with your boss. This can be tricky, so if you have questions our Florida Unpaid Wage and Overtime Lawyers Whittel & Melton urge you to contact us so that we can further explain this. 

Filing a Claim for Unpaid OT

The FLSA gives workers 3 years to recover unpaid OT. There are situations that can extend claims for unpaid wages beyond this period of time. Because of the time frame placed on these claims, we urge you to act fast when it comes to unpaid wages of any kind. Our Florida Unpaid Wage and Overtime Attorneys at Whittel & Melton are here to help walk you through the entire claims process. We will see your case through to its finish and fight to recover the wages you rightfully earned. 

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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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