Florida’s Minimum Wage: What Goes Up, Will Keep Going Up

2019 Florida Minimum Wage to Increase to $8.46 Per Hour

 

On January 1, 2019, Florida’s minimum wage will increase from $8.25 per hour to $8.46 per hour. This adjustment is based on the federal Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the South Region. For a full-time Florida employee (working 2080 hours), the increase equates to $436.80 more in wages per year. The 21-cent increase was based on the Consumer Price Index rising just over 2.5% from August 2017 to August 2018.

Restaurant and hotel employers who take a tip credit, may still take up to a $3.02 per hour tip credit against the new minimum wage. That means that starting January 1, 2019, tipped employees must receive at least $5.44 per hour in direct wages.

Here’s something else to keep in mind, Florida employers must remember to replace their current Florida minimum wage poster with the updated poster reflecting the new minimum wage on January 1, 2019. Posters can be found here in EnglishSpanish, and Creole.

You Fire Your HR Manager for Encouraging Employees to Sue. No Problem, right? Think Again.

Imagine this. You hire an HR manager to investigate and resolve internal employee complaints.  You later learn that instead of doing her job, the HR manager is encouraging employees to file Charges of Discrimination and even referring employees to “her” lawyer.  During this time period, the HR manager also files her own Charge. You can fire the HR manager, right?  Well, only if you want to buy yourself a retaliation claim.

This was the fact pattern of a case recently decided by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals – which is the appellate court governing Florida, Alabama and Georgia.  In Gogel v. Kia Motors Mfg. of Georgia, Inc., the employer argued that the HR manager’s role was to investigate and resolve internal employee disputes, and by encouraging employees to pursue litigation, the manager failed to perform a core function of her position. Continue Reading

Political Out Of The Box Thinking On “Ban The Box”

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (and Democratic nominee for Florida Governor) about some areas of importance to him.  One of those is an issue called “Ban the Box.”

Ban the Box is a proposal that 33 states and 150 municipalities (including Tallahassee) across the country have adopted in some fashion. Ban the Box legislation requires the removal of inquiries on an employment application form about an applicant’s criminal background.  It delays the disclosure of this information until after the applicant has had an opportunity to interview with the prospective employer.  The goal is to give an applicant an opportunity to demonstrate that he/she can meet the requirements of a job and not be automatically denied consideration because of his/her criminal background. Continue Reading

This Is Important: Employers Need To Immediately Update Their FCRA “Summary Of Rights” Form

Effective September 21, 2018, employers who use outside agencies (consumer reporting agencies) to conduct employee background checks must use a new (and revised)  “A Summary of your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” form. This updated form is one of the many notices employers must provide under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The new form is available here in English and here in Spanish.

The new form adds information about an individual’s right to place a “security freeze” on his/her background information (limiting who gets such information). It also advises of the alternative right to place a “fraud alert” on his/her credit file, all at no cost to the individual. 

This change is a result of federal legislation passed in May in response to highly publicized data breaches.  Its goal is also to better protect individuals against identity theft. 

The new legislation does not limit an employer’s ability to perform background checks or otherwise change how those checks are conducted. However, failure to provide individuals with the new form could expose employers to class action litigation and claims for damages and attorneys’ fees.  Some might argue that requiring employers to use this new form (over the old form) is “form over substance”.  Time and future litigation will tell. As many of you already know there has been an uptick in the filing of these types of claims nationwide.  

For those employers who have not already done so, this might also be a good time to have all of your background check forms and procedures reviewed to ensure that you are complying with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

 

Kiwis Will Have the Protection of Paid Domestic Violence Leave. What About Floridians?

In April 2019, New Zealand employers will be required to provide victims of domestic violence 10 days of paid leave. The purpose of the paid leave is to allow domestic violence victims to relocate, seek legal help, and address their trauma without fear of losing their income.

In Florida, employers (with 50 or more employees) are required to provide eligible employees (employees who have worked 3 or more months) 3 working days of unpaid domestic or sexual violence leave in any 12-month period. The leave provides the victims with some level of support or flexibility. However, the employer can require the employee to first exhaust all vacation leave, personal leave, and sick leave before taking the 3 days. Additionally, the leave may be paid or unpaid, at the employer’s discretion. To learn more details about the statute’s requirements read our own Lisa Berg’s blog post. Continue Reading

Competing for Workers: Pay More? Or Pay More Frequently?

Unemployment rates are at historic lows and the economy is booming! That’s good news for business, right? Yes…and no. While low unemployment creates more demand for the goods and services offered by companies, it also means that employers will have to compete for an ever-shrinking pool of workers. This leaves employers with two options: offer workers better pay or benefits, or lower hiring standards.

The prospect of lowering hiring standards is sure to give employers heartburn since it can increase training costs and potentially decrease productivity, while increasing worker pay and benefits comes with its own costs that can hurt the bottom line. But a new service being offered to employers and their employees touts itself as providing a lower-cost solution.

Continue Reading

Nothing to Sneeze at: Chemical Sensitivities, Bed Bugs, Zika and Flu Shots

I recently spoke at the SHRM 2018 Annual Conference & Exposition in Chicago. My topic was  “Health Issues are Nothing to Sneeze at: Chemical Sensitivities, Bed Bugs, Zika and Flu Shots.”

SHRM had over 18,000 attendees. It was a great opportunity to discuss some of the legal issues employers face when trying to manage a disease outbreak and other developing issues impacting employee health. Below are my top takeaways for those of you who were not able to attend. Continue Reading

Continuing Work Authorization for Hondurans in Wake of TPS Termination

Following the recent trend, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terminated the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation for Honduras.  TPS will terminate for qualifying citizens of Honduras on January 5, 2020.  Hondurans currently in TPS status may continue working in the United States through January 5, 2020, if they re-register. Continue Reading

Covering Summer Interns Under Your Employee Benefit Plans – You Can’t Just Forget About Them

It is prime time of the year for hiring “interns.” They usually are high school, college or even graduate students looking for work experience. Certain interns may be unpaid (the analysis of whether interns must be paid is an important issue but beyond the scope of this blog post). However, many companies provide paid internships. If the interns are paid employees, you may have to cover them under your employee benefit plans.  At a minimum, you can’t just think “oh, those are interns, not real employees; I don’t need to worry about them.” Think again. Continue Reading

Does the EEOC Have Your E-mail Address?

In 2016, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) implemented Phase I of its Digital Charge System for employers to interact with the EEOC thru a Respondent Portal, and to access and respond to a Charge of Discrimination. If a Charge of Discrimination has been filed against your company, the EEOC now e-mails the Notice of Charge of Discrimination to employers and provides a password to access the online portal. When you log in, you can view and download the Charge and add your attorney’s contact information and provide him/her access to the Respondent Portal.  You or your attorney also can respond to a mediation request, change contact information, and upload a position statement. Continue Reading

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