The business and commercial lawyers at Schwed Kahle & Kress, P.A. engage in employment litigation under federal and Florida state labor and employment law. Contact our offices in Palm Beach Gardens and statewide for advice and representation regarding non-compete agreements, discrimination and harassment, wrongful discharge, wage and hour, and other Florida employment law claims.
Non-compete Clauses and Agreements
A covenant not to compete that is in writing and signed by the employee is valid and enforceable in Florida so long as it is reasonable in terms of how long it lasts, how much area or territory it covers, and how wide the scope of prohibited business activity is. It also falls on the employer to demonstrate a legitimate business need for the agreement, like the need to protect trade secretes or maintain valuable customer relationships. The knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Schwed Kahle & Kress handle litigation surrounding non-compete agreements, non-solicitation agreements and confidentiality agreements, either as clauses and provisions in employment contracts or as stand-alone agreements.
Florida workers are protected against discrimination in employment under federal laws such as Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), as well as the Florida Civil Rights Act. These laws protect workers against any adverse employment decision (hiring, firing, transfer, assignment, pay, working conditions, etc.) based on race, sex, age, disability, religion and other protected characteristics. These laws also protect workers from harassment that creates a hostile work environment and from retaliation for complaining about discrimination or harassment.
Florida is an at-will employment state. This means employees can quit at any time without giving a reason, and they can likewise be fired at any time without being given a reason. The existence of an employment agreement transforms at-will employment to a contractual relationship, governed by the terms of the agreement. These agreements are not always expressly created; contractual obligations can arise from company handbooks, polices and customary practices. Additionally, even at-will employees are protected from wrongful termination on unlawful grounds, such as exercising their rights to file a workers’ compensation claim or OSHA workplace safety complaint.
Wage & Hour
The Florida Minimum Wage Act (FMWA) imposes a higher minimum wage than federal law. Employers cannot pay less than the minimum wage in most instances, and they may not discriminate or retaliate against employees for making a complaint. Workers for their part can sue for wage violations and recover double the amount of their unpaid wages, in addition to attorney’s fees and costs. Employees who were illegally fired or demoted can be reinstated to their former position.
Overtime in Florida is governed by the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), requiring payment of one and a half times the regular wage for hours worked over 40 in a week. Executive, administrative and professional employees can be exempted from overtime requirements, as are independent contractors, but the tests used to determine such status can be complicated, and workers are frequently misclassified as exempt from overtime when they should be covered.
Wage and hour claims under the FLSA can include up to two years of back pay, or three years if the violation is deemed willful. Under the FMWA, litigation can look back four years, or five in the case of willful violations. With the possibility of many years of unpaid wages and class actions involving whole departments or entire workforces, Florida wage and hour litigation can amount to high stakes for both employers and employees.
Effective Representation in Florida Employment Litigation
Contact Schwed Kahle & Kress, P.A. at our offices in Palm Beach, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and Tallahassee for help with employment litigation throughout the state of Florida.