The 2020 Legislative Session concluded in May and bills have been making their way to the Governor for signature. Although this has progressed more slowly than is ordinary due to the ongoing pandemic, several labor and employment-related bills have been signed into law nonetheless. Here are three particularly notable bills that went into effect on July 1st:
Paying Student Athletes (SB 646)
Sports fans across the nation have seen a lot of traction over the past year on the issue of intercollegiate athlete compensation and rights. Recently passed Senate Bill 646 allows college athletes to receive payment for the use of their name, image, and likeness commensurate with market value. Pay cannot come from the athletes’ universities, nor can the athletes’ contracts interfere with the universities’ sponsorship contracts. The bill restricts universities from prohibiting athletes from obtaining professional representation for purpose of securing compensation, or otherwise preventing or restricting athletes from receiving pay for their name, image, and likeness. Athletes’ ability to receive compensation for their name, image, and likeness may prove to be a particularly interesting subject to follow given the effects of the COVID pandemic upon college athletics.
Verification of Employment Eligibility (SB 664)
Senate Bill 664 is now requiring employers and contractors to begin verifying the employment eligibility of new employees, effective January 1, 2021. Specifically, the bill requires that all public employers, contractors, and subcontractors register with and use the E-Verify system. It also prohibits these entities from entering into any contract unless all parties to the contract also register with and use the E-Verify system and to terminate any contract with another party which is suspected of employing an unauthorized alien or not utilizing the E-Verify system. Private employers will be required to provide all documentation relied upon in verifying an employee’s employment eligibility to either the FDLE, the Attorney General, state attorney, or statewide prosecutor upon request. The bill also creates a rebuttable presumption that a private employer did not knowingly employ an unauthorized alien.
Florida Commission on Human Relations (HB 255)
Several changes have come to the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”) following the passing of House Bill 255. Perhaps most importantly, the bill shortens the amount of time in which an aggrieved employee has to bring a lawsuit. Previously, if the FCHR could not complete its review of a charge of discrimination within 180 days, a complainant had up to four years from the date of the adverse action to file suit in court. Under the amended statute, the charging party now has one year from the date of the adverse action in which to bring a charge with the FCHR, the FCHR has 180 days in which to issue a determination, and the charging party then has one year from the date the FCHR mailed the charging party its notice of determination or notice advising the charging party that the FCHR was unable to make a determination in which to commence a lawsuit. It is unclear what relief charging parties or employers have, other than so advising the FCHR, if the FCHR fails to issue a determination within 180 days. Essentially, the amendment reduces the time in which to bring a complaint from four years after the adverse action to two and a half years after the adverse action.
There are still 26 bills that have yet to be presented to the Governor. We will continue to monitor these outstanding bills and will keep you informed if any additional labor and employment-related legislation is signed into law.