Surviving the Seasonal Soiree

You survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday.  Will you “survive” the office holiday party and the HR land mines it presents?  Please don’t let anyone show up to the party dressed like this guy.

What’s a party without alcohol, and what’s a law blog without a curmudgeon preaching moderation and reasonableness?

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LGBTQ Rights in Employment: Does it Boil Down to the “Bathroom Use” Question Again?

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When the first transgender discrimination case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, Chief Justice Roberts asked, “What do we do about bathrooms?” Now, The Supreme Court has been asked the question: Does Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination at work, apply to discrimination based on an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation?

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DHS Extends Temporary Protected Status and Work Authorization

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As a result of court orders prohibiting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from terminating Temporary Protected Status, DHS is again extending the program for certain countries.

TPS Country Current Expiration Date New Expiration Date
El Salvador 01/02/2020 01/04/2021
Haiti 01/02/2020 01/04/2021
Nicaragua 01/02/2020 01/04/2021
Sudan 01/02/2020 01/04/2021
Honduras 01/05/2020 01/04/2021
Nepal 03/24/2020 01/04/2021

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Some Tips on Tips

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On October 25, Elitsa posted on the increase in Florida’s minimum wage to $8.56 an hour, effective January 1.  Because of that increase, Florida employers who take a tip credit must pay tipped employees a direct wage of at least $5.54 per hour.  The U.S. Department of Labor has proposed a new rule regulating tipped employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act.  Here are some highlights of the current requirements and what the proposed rule requires.

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New Florida Minimum Wage on the 2020 Horizon

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Effective January 1, 2020, the Florida minimum wage rate will increase by 10 cents from the current $8.46 per hour, to $8.56 per hour. This 10 cent increase is less than half of the 21 cent increase the state saw from 2018 to 2019.

Restaurant and hotel employers may still count tips actually received by the employee as wages, in the form of a tip credit up to $3.02 per hour. For 2020, as long as “tipped employees” meet the eligibility requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), the employer must pay a direct wage of no less than $5.54 per hour (reflecting an increase of 10 cents as well), which together with the $3.02 per hour in tip credit adds up to the full $8.56 per hour minimum wage rate.

Remember that Florida’s minimum wage rate and minimum direct wage permitted for tipped employees are higher than under the FLSA, so employers must meet the higher wage requirements for Florida employees.

Florida employers should be sure to replace the 2019 minimum wage posters with the new 2020 posters, available through the DEO in English, Spanish and Creole.

Strict Enforcement of Non-Negotiable Employment Policies: A Few Horror Stories

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While having well written policies and procedures for employees is very important, these policies and procedures cannot cover every situation. Employers need to retain some flexibility. Non-negotiable rules can violate employment laws and result in very expensive claims.

How expensive?

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Two Turks are better than one!

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We are pleased to welcome attorney Stephanie Turk to our Labor & Employment Law group in Miami.  Yes, she is my daughter-in-law.

Stephanie brings experience in both Employment Litigation and Employment Counseling.

On the litigation side, Stephanie defends employers in a variety of employment matters including discrimination, retaliation, wage and hour, and whistleblower claims. She represents clients in federal and state courts, nationwide arbitrations, and before administrative agencies including the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Department of Labor (DOL), and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

On the counseling side, Stephanie advises employers on union avoidance strategies and election campaigns, the formation and dissolution of employment relationships, including the negotiation of employment, separation, and non-compete agreements, and other day-to-day employment issues.

She is excited to get started as a regular contributor to our blog and as a presenter at our 30th Annual Labor & Employment Seminar.  Please join us in welcoming our newest member to the Stearns Weaver Miller family!

Florida Employers: Do Your Employees Text and Drive?

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If yes, they need to stop today. Why? Effective October 1, 2019, Florida drivers can use wireless communication devices (e.g., cell phones) only in a hands-free manner when driving in a designated school crossing, school zone, or work zone where construction personnel are present or operating equipment on the road or immediately adjacent to the work zone area.  If they are stopped by law enforcement under these conditions, they will be issued a warning.  On January 1, 2020, however, they will be issued a ticket, which will be punishable as a moving violation with a base $60 fine and 3 points assessed against their driver’s license.

Why should you care?  Employers have an obligation under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA)  to create a safe and healthful workplace. Therefore, employers should consider adopting policies banning their employees from texting while driving on company business or in a company-owned car (if they haven’t already).  Moreover, they should not create any incentives for employees that encourage or condone texting.  When conducting employee training, they also should consider including a discussion of their policy as well as the dangers of distracted driving.

If you are still wondering about the so-called “rules of the road” that can get you and your employees into trouble, here’s a little cheat sheet:

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“5 Tips to Help Avoid Employment Lawsuits” Key Takeaways

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Last week, I had the pleasure of presenting at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce’s IMPACT Series: A Seminar Series for Small Business. The audience was comprised of business and human resources professionals across several sectors. For those of you who were not able to attend the presentation, I have included my top takeaways.

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Automation and the ADA

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With rapid automation there comes a tipping point for the need of humans in the workplace. Automation will become so pervasive that companies will need to cobble together remaining job duties into hybrid job positions to be performed by the remaining human employees. Is this the future? No, it’s the “now.” What does that mean for employers with disabled employees who may need to be accommodated? Continue Reading

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