Articles Posted in Employment Law

A Hallandale Beach man alleges he was not paid a bonus upon a completion of a project as promised.

The man filed a complaint on June 13 in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida – Broward County against the construction company alleging breach of contract.

According to the complaint, the man worked for the construction company from January to December 2016. The suit states he was assigned to a project in Jensen Beach and was promised a 20 percent bonus of his salary upon its completion, or $19,000.

The man holds the construction company responsible because they allegedly failed to honor their obligation and pay for the extra compensation upon completion of the project.

The man is seeking damages and unpaid wages, plus costs of suit, attorney’s fees and further relief as the court may deem just.

Florida employers often promise their employees a bonus as a way of motivating them to work harder or to create additional incentives that benefit the employer.

There are two types of bonuses: discretionary and non-discretionary. A discretionary bonus is basically a gift, where the employee’s performance is not a factor. A common example of this is a Christmas bonus. In most cases, an employee has no legal right to recover a discretionary bonus.

A non-discretionary bonus is tied to an employee’s performance, and once that condition is met or satisfied, the employee is entitled to that bonus. If you have been denied a non-discretionary bonus, and you have satisfied the terms, you may have a legal right to take action against your employer.

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A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit accusing the NFL and team owners of conspiring to suppress wages for cheerleaders lacks evidence to support that claim.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup dismissed the lawsuit by a former San Francisco 49ers cheerleader. The lawsuit sought class action status on behalf of all NFL cheerleaders.

The lawsuit was among a spate of legal actions in recent years accusing NFL teams of failing to pay cheerleaders for hours they spent practicing and making public appearances.

California legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown two years ago requires cheerleaders receive at least minimum wage and overtime and sick leave if they work for professional sports teams based in California.

The lawsuit before Alsup claimed that cheerleaders received only a flat, per-game fee. It also said the NFL and its teams conspired to prohibit cheerleaders from seeking employment with other professional cheerleading teams and from discussing their earnings with each other.

Alsup said he would expect at least some evidence to support a conspiracy on the scale alleged in the lawsuit — possibly a former NFL employee coming forward to “provide the details of ‘who, did what, to whom (or with whom), where, and when’ regarding some actual conspiratorial meeting, communication or agreement.”

The lawsuit, instead, alleges similar policies for cheerleaders among NFL teams, Alsup said. The judge said those policies could just as easily have been implemented by each team independently.

This case is certainly interesting. The cheerleaders allegedly only made about $100 per game and, in many cases, were not paid for mandatory public events or rehearsal time. In stark contrast, NFL players collectively earned $6.4 billion last year while NFL team mascots annually make between $25,000 and $60,000, often with benefits.

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A $7.5 million class action settlement between Wal-Mart and a former employee who challenged the retail chain’s lack of health insurance benefits for her same-sex spouse was approved by a federal judge on Monday.

The settlement will pay for claims by current and former Wal-Mart associates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico that they were unable to obtain health insurance for their same-sex spouses from 2011 to 2013. About 380 claims have been submitted.

U.S. District Judge William Young approved the settlement after a brief hearing in federal court in Boston.

The lawsuit was filed in 2015 by a Wal-Mart associate from Massachusetts who said the company denied medical insurance for her wife. Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. began offering benefits for same-sex spouses in 2014.

The female associate, whose wife died of ovarian cancer in 2016, said she was pleased Walmart was willing to resolve the issue for her and other associates who are married to someone of the same sex.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it is illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, and/or national origin. For this specific case, attorneys argued that Wal-Mart violated Title VII when they refused to offer spousal health benefits because the associate and her spouse were of the same sex.  

Our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are strong advocates for LGBT employees. We firmly believe that all employees should be treated fairly in the workplace. We are committed to making sure justice is obtained when any employee’s rights are violated.

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Baylor University is requesting a lawsuit filed by a former employee who was fired amid a student’s sexual assault controversy to be thrown out.

The private Christian college filed the motion for the dismissal of the plaintiff’s Title IX lawsuit against the school on March 27 in the Waco Division of the Western District of Texas.

The plaintiff is Baylor’s former assistant vice president for student financial aid. She was fired after reinstating a student’s scholarship after he was kicked off the football team following a sexual assault accusation. According to court documents, she claims she was fired in retaliation for reinstating his scholarship.

The student in the case had failed to mention on his college application that he had been involved in an alleged sexual harassment case at his previous university. In May 2016, an alleged victim had reported him to a Baylor police officer for sexual assault, although he claimed the sexual acts were consensual.

The athletic department, the Office of General Counsel and a faculty athletic representative then decided to release him from the team. His scholarship was rescinded, and he was advised to appeal the rescission.

Baylor states in court documents that the woman’s lawsuit needs to be thrown out because her story is “pure fiction.” Her complaint is based on Baylor supposedly violating Title IX, which prohibits recipients of federal education funding from retaliating against a person who spoke against sex discrimination. But Baylor says reinstating a scholarship is not a form of “speaking out.”

The university states that although the woman has no personal knowledge of the player’s alleged sexual assault incident, she portrays the former student as innocent of his accusations. Baylor also says the woman is wrong about its senior vice president and chief operating officer being involved in the dismissal of both her and the student and has presented no facts to prove otherwise.

The woman chaired a committee that decided on reinstating the student’s scholarship. The hearing did not rely on the sexual assault case since it was still under investigation. Instead, the appeal hearing relied on his withholding of information on his application.

It was determined that he was not dishonest about his previous case, so he was granted the opportunity to continue attending Baylor on a full scholarship, although he did not return.

The woman, who had held her position at Baylor since December 2014, alleged that soon after reinstating the player’s scholarship, her supervisor started criticizing her work performance. On Sept. 29, she put the woman on a 30-day performance improvement plan. A month later, she was informed she was fired.

The plaintiff claims that the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Baylor became angry with her for granting the student his scholarship, and that her work performance had not been put into question up until that point.

Baylor has been sued by 14 women under Title IX since May. The school has settled with three women who claimed they were sexually assaulted by Baylor football players.

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There has been quite the debate over how much a South Carolina stripper should be compensated after being shot while on the job.

Last week the state’s highest court ordered a new hearing in the woman’s case.

The decision comes two years after Supreme Court justices ruled that the woman was an employee of the club, not an independent contractor, a determination that meant she was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

The woman was working as an exotic dancer at the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 in Columbia in 2008 when a stray bullet struck her in the abdomen during a fight. According to court records, she suffered internal injuries, resulting in the loss of a kidney.

The club had argued that the woman was simply a contractor and wasn’t on its books as an employee. But, the court found in its initial ruling, the club chose the woman’s dance music, required her to perform dances for certain customers, and barred her from leaving work early without risk of a fine.

In that 2015 ruling, the high court left it to the Workers’ Compensation Commission to determine how much of a benefit the woman should receive, an award ultimately set at $75 a week. The panel, according to justices, provided no documentation for how it arrived at that amount.

The court pointed out it wasn’t saying the amount had been too low or too high but rather that the commission’s order “was devoid of any specific and detailed findings of fact to substantiate the award.”

If you have been injured on the job in Florida, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits. Workers compensation claims cover all types of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Back injuries
  • Knee problems
  • Wrist injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Heart attacks
  • Burns
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shootings
  • Work-related death

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Boeing and Airbus Group tooling supplier Electroimpact have been fined $485,000 after an investigation yielded it had a discriminatory hiring policy.

Boeing and Airbus use Electroimpact robotic machines throughout their jetliner factories, including to help make wings for their top-selling 737 and A320 single-aisle aircraft.

An investigation found evidence that Electroimpact and its founder refused to hire Muslim applicants and “engaged in religious and/or national origin harassment.”

Electroimpact founder Peter Zieve had the primary responsibility for screening applicants and conducting final interviews, according to reports.

About 95% of Electroimpact’s 474 engineers are white, the statement said, citing a report to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Electroimpact said that it did not conform to the personal views of its founder and that Zieve was no longer involved in the company’s hiring process.

Boeing plans to use Electroimpact machines to help make wings for its forthcoming twin-aisle 777X aircraft.

Other Electroimpact equipment is also used in construction and assembly of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner carbon fiber composite fuselage sections.

Airbus in a statement noted the diversity of its team around the world and said it values the benefits that different cultures bring.

Despite federal and state laws put in place against discrimination based on religion or national origin, it still happens everyday in workplaces across the United States. The law makes it crystal clear that there is no legitimate excuse for discriminating based on religion or national origin. Our Florida Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Meton proudly help victims of someone else’s biases and prejudices in the workplace. If you are involved in such a situation, we can help you bring a claim against your employer to pursue financial compensation.

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Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and the network have paid out some $13 million to five women over the past 15 years to settle a series of harassment allegations against the opinionated host, according to the New York Times.

The settlements, three of which had been previously undisclosed, were in exchange for the women’s agreement not to sue the company.

O’Reilly – the top-rated attraction on cable news for many years – generated headlines in 2004 for his dispute with Andrea Mackris, who alleged that he had harassed her repeatedly while she was a producer of his program “The O’Reilly Factor.” Mackris settled her claims for a reported payout of $9 million in 2004.

In January of this year, O’Reilly settled another harassment claim, lodged by former Fox News presenter Juliet Huddy, for an undisclosed sum.

The Times found three other complaints and payouts involving O’Reilly, dating back to 2002.

Fox settled two of them, and O’Reilly privately settled a third in 2011. The latter agreement was so secret that 21st Century Fox was unaware of it until last year, the paper said.

Fox hasn’t said whether O’Reilly was ever disciplined as a result of the allegations.

O’Reilly’s statement, posted on his website, said:

Just like other prominent and controversial people, I’m vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity. In my more than 20 years at Fox News Channel, no one has ever filed a complaint about me with the Human Resources Department, even on the anonymous hotline. But most importantly, I’m a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way. And so I have put to rest any controversies to spare my children. Those of us in the arena are constantly at risk, as are our families and children. My primary efforts will continue to be to put forth an honest TV program and to protect those close to me.

O’Reilly and Fox continue to face allegations by former Fox personality Andrea Tantaros, who claimed, in a lawsuit filed last summer, that O’Reilly sexually harassed her.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Sadly, many employees fear taking because they are afraid of losing their much-needed jobs. Sexual harassment needs to be reported, though. In many cases, the harassment can escalate quickly and lead to a hostile work environment. When it gets to this point, you are unable to do your job and earn your living.

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A Maine dairy company recently learned how a comma can change everything. In O’Connor v. Oakhurst Dairy, it was shown that a comma can go a long way to avoid ambiguity.

In this case, a group of dairy delivery drivers sued Oakhurst, claiming the company failed to pay them overtime under Maine’s wage and hour laws.

Oakhurst argued that dairy delivery drivers are overtime-exempt under Maine’s “Exemption F.” Under Exemption F, Maine’s overtime law does not apply to:The canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of: (1) Agricultural produce; (2) Meat and fish products; and (3) Perishable foods.

The outcome of this case came down to whether the drivers engaged in “packing for shipment or distribution.” The drivers argued that this phrase refers to a single activity of “packing,” whether the packing be for shipment or for distribution. Since the drivers did not pack food, the drivers reasoned, Exemption F did not apply to them. Oakhurst argued that the phrase actually refers to two different activities: “packing for shipment” and “distribution.” As the drivers clearly engaged in the distribution of food, Exemption F did apply to them.

Based on the plain language of the statute, the district court ruled in favor of Oakhurst.

However, on appeal, the First Circuit found the statute ambiguous. And with no other way to resolve the ambiguity, the First Circuit accepted the drivers’ narrower construction of the exemption and reversed the district court’s original ruling.

Federal law dictates that hourly (nonexempt) workers must be paid overtime for every hour worked over 40 hours in their work week. Regardless of these laws, some employers try to get creative and use illegal tactics to avoid paying workers overtime pay, 1.5 times their usual hourly rate.

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A Miami-Dade County employer that sells SIM cards for cellphones is accused of terminating an employee in retaliation for his complaints about not receiving overtime pay.

The man filed a complaint on behalf of similarly situated individuals on March 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

According to the complaint, the man alleges that he began working for the company to sell SIM cards in November 2015 and was unlawfully terminated in December 2016. He holds the company responsible because they allegedly terminated his employment in retaliation to his complaints about not being paid any overtime wages. He also alleges he was not paid commissions as promised.

Employees are commonly hesitant to report unlawful conduct in the workplace, including wage and hour violations. Many fear that if they take any such action, they will be fired or suffer other consequences.

Retaliation is defined as “an adverse action taken against a covered individual because he or she engaged in a protected activity.” Employer retaliation can take many forms and can include the following:

  • Termination
  • Denied Promotion
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in compensation
  • Reduction in hours
  • Unwarranted discipline

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According to a new study, men have been as likely to move into predominantly female jobs as the other way around over the last 15 years, but not all men.

It is the men who are already disadvantaged in the labor market: black, Hispanic, less educated, poor and immigrant men.

While work done by women continues to be valued less, the study demonstrates, job opportunities divide not just along gender lines but also by race and class.

At the same time, the women who have continued to delve into more prestigious male-dominated professions in that period are likely to be white, educated, native-born and married, according to the research, which has not been published yet.

The gender composition of jobs matters for reasons of equality — fields with a majority of men pay 21 percent more than those with mostly women. Also, the fastest-growing jobs are dominated by women, while the fastest-shrinking ones are predominantly male.

The jobs that have become more female are generally professional or managerial ones, according to the study.

More Female

Natural sciences managers

Veterinarians

Optometrists

Ushers and ticket takers

Brokerage clerks

Agricultural inspectors

Print binding and finishing workers

Dentists

Animal trainers

Agricultural and food scientists

Less Female

Computer operators

Counter and rental clerks

Radiation therapists

Inspectors and testers

New account clerks

Models and product promoters

Engine and machine assemblers

Electrical assemblers

Biological technicians

Furnace operators

Sex or gender discrimination in the workplace involves treating someone poorly because of their sex, whether they are applying for a job or are a current employee. While women can perform the same duties as men with the same skill and success, the issue of sex discrimination is still present in many workplaces and can hold women back. This is not to say that men cannot be discriminated against – in the past this has been predominantly an issue with women, but as times change and new studies like this one come out, it is clear that gender discrimination can equally be directed towards men.

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