Grooming Standards: No Longer So “Hair-Larious”

After seeing several players’ hair covering their jersey numbers during a performance of the Star Spangled Banner, former New York Yankees’ owner, George Steinbrenner, instructed the players to cut their hair. It was then, in 1973, that the New York Yankees’ grooming policy was born.  The official team policy states that, “all players, coaches, and male executives are forbidden to display any facial hair other than mustaches (except for religious reasons), and scalp hair may not be grown below the collar.” Over the years, many have commented about the policy and some have openly rebelled. Continue Reading

Comparing Apples to Apples: How Do You Prove Discrimination?

On March 21, 2019, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers employers in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama) issued a decision that helps us answer this question: How do employees prove they were victims of unlawful discrimination in the workplace? Lewis v. City of Union City, Ga., No. 15-11362 (11th Cir. Mar. 21, 2019).  For those of you with lots of time on your hands, you can click on the hyperlink and read the 100-page decision. Yawn.   For everyone else, here’s the skinny on this case. . . Continue Reading

Biometric Time Keeping and Employee Tracking – Thumbs Up or Down?

Unless you recently woke up from a cryogenic slumber, your biometric information is out there. In today’s world, devices scan our palms before taking standardized tests. We unlock our phones with our fingers and our face. And we bicker with our named audio speakers in order to turn down the tunes. But whatever the method, biometric identification devices are mainstream, and employers will have to decide whether using this technology is worthwhile. Continue Reading

An Ounce of Benefits is Worth a Pound of Pay

The United States is currently nearing full employment with the unemployment rate under 4%. Such a hypercompetitive labor market calls for innovation and creativity in luring and retaining top talent. A new study that sheds light on how employees value benefits may help employers maximize the “bang for the buck” of benefits packages offered to prospective and current workers.

An article published by Bloomberg highlights a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper that reveals which benefits employees prefer, and actually assigns a dollar amount that employees are willing to forgo in the form of wages in exchange for each benefit. The study’s data (displayed below) shows that in many cases American workers are willing to forgo “substantial” earnings in exchange for specific non-wage benefits that more than offset the equivalent cost to the employer of offering such benefits. Continue Reading

Reading Your Employment Policy Documents Probably Won’t Win You $10,000- It Could Be Worth Much More

Recently, an insurance company released a story about a secret contest it launched offering $10,000 to the first person who read their insurance policy. The catch: the only way you could find out about the contest was to actually read the policy. 73 policies were sold and sent out before someone claimed the prize.

Insurance policies are not the only important documents that people fail to read. Most people receive a hefty stack of paperwork when starting a new job such as the employee handbook, benefits documents and other important documents. Most people just read the first few pages before signing a form stating that they agree to all the terms and conditions. Continue Reading

REGISTRATION OPEN! Annual Labor & Employment Law Seminars

29th Annual Miami Labor and Employment Law Seminar

Friday, May 17 | 8am-4:15pm | Hard Rock Stadium


2nd Annual Tampa Labor and Employment Law Seminar

Friday, May 10 | 8am-4pm | Tampa Bay History Center


Our annual seminars draw hundreds of human resource professionals, in-house counsel and senior executives from Florida’s top businesses. And for good reason! No one does events quite like we do – our seminars are not just lectures, they are learning experiences. This year will not disappoint.

At both seminars, speakers from our Labor & Employment group will cover the following topics:

  • Long-Term LOA, FMLA and ADA
  • Workplace Investigations
  • Our Indispensable Termination Checklist
  • Offer Letters and Other Pre-Employment Considerations

…and much more! Plus, in addition to the presentations, this year our seminars will include panel discussions covering NLRB Workplace Rules, What’s Up at the EEOC, Wage and Hour Hot Topics.

Click here for the full agenda in Miami and here for the full agenda in Tampa. (Pending HRCI Credits, SHRM Credits and The Florida Bar CLE Credits)

We look forward to seeing you in May!



Don’t worry – the famous POPCORN will be back this year too!

E-Verify Operations Resume – Guidance from Department of Homeland Security

With Friday’s agreement to re-open government operations, at least temporarily, E-Verify is once again operational. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided the following guidance to employers who participate in the E-Verify program.

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Gambling at Work: Everybody Out of the (Office) Pool

With Super Bowl LIII this Sunday and March Madness fast approaching, it is important to consider the impact of office pools on the workplace.

Office pools can build workplace morale and improve employee relationships, not to mention add a little fun to the typical workday. Yet they remain illegal in many states, including Florida.  In a recent article that I wrote for the Daily Business Review, I outlined the practical and legal risks employers should consider before implementing policies towards office pools.

You can view the article here.

*Special thanks to Thomas Raine, who assisted in the drafting of this post. Thomas is a third year Juris Doctor Candidate at the University of Miami School of Law.

Don’t Be Snake Bit. Make Sure the COBRA Notices You Use Are Correct.

Using a vendor for your COBRA compliance does not mean you are safe from claims. The employer bears ultimate responsibility for complying with COBRA. It appears that Pepsico and Lockheed may be about to learn this lesson.  Both were sued recently in Hillsborough County for failure to send proper COBRA election notices after employees terminated employment. In both cases, the COBRA notices at issue appear to be from a third party COBRA administrator. The plaintiffs allege that the COBRA notices did not contain all of the items required under the COBRA notice regulations such as the address for mailing payments, the name of the plan administrator, and when the COBRA coverage would terminate.

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Our group is growing again – Tallahassee here we come!

We are pleased to welcome Melanie Leitman to our Labor & Employment Law group. We look forward to Melanie being a part of the continued expansion of our Labor & Employment practice throughout the State. Our Labor and Employment attorneys have established a solid reputation in South and Central Florida for nearly four decades. In 2017, we expanded our Central Florida footprint with the addition of Janet McEnery and Andy McLaughlin to our Tampa office. We are excited to extend our services to clients in the Tallahassee market and throughout North Florida.

Melanie’s practice includes employment defense litigation and Human Resources compliance, consultation, and training. She has experience representing management-side clients in various employment-related claims, including Chapter 760, Title VII, ADA, FMLA, FLSA, whistleblower retaliation claims, drafting and enforcement/defense of covenants prohibiting competition, and constitutional claims arising out of employment disputes. She has represented clients in pre-claim consultation, EEOC/FCHR position statements and investigations, state/federal court litigation, and appellate disposition thereof. Read her full bio here.

Stay tuned for details regarding upcoming seminars in your area and join us in welcoming our newest member to the Stearns Weaver Miller family!