Employment and labor laws in Florida are designed to protect workers from unfair practices, discrimination, and harassment in the workplace. These laws cover various issues, including minimum wage and overtime, discrimination, workplace safety, and more. Unfortunately, labor law violations still occur in the state, with many workers falling victim to illegal practices such as wage theft, workplace harassment, and discrimination.
According to the Florida Policy Institute, Florida has the highest minimum wage-related wage theft rate in the United States. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received nearly 5,000 employment discrimination charges in Florida in 2021, making it the fourth-highest state in terms of discrimination charges filed. These instances remind workers of the importance of labor laws and the need for legal assistance if they believe their employer is violating them.
This page will provide an overview of Florida's employment and labor laws, including key regulations and resources available for workers who have experienced a labor law violation. Whether you are a worker or an employer, this information will help you navigate Florida's complex world of employment and labor law.
Florida Minimum Wage Law
Florida’s minimum wage law requires employers to pay their employees a minimum wage of $11.00 per hour as of 2022. On September 30, 2023, the minimum wage is scheduled to increase to $12.00 per hour. This minimum wage applies to all Florida employees covered by the Fair Labor Standards ACT (FLSA).
There are some exceptions to Florida’s minimum wage law, including the following:
Tipped employees: Employers can take a tip credit of $3.02 per hour against the minimum wage for tipped employees. Therefore, employers can pay tipped employees a direct hourly wage of $7.98 per hour as long as the combined direct wage and tips the employee receives are equal to at least the minimum wage.
Trainees and learners: Employers can pay trainees and learners less than the minimum wage for a limited time if certain conditions are met.
Disabled workers: Employers can obtain a special license from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity to pay disabled workers less than the minimum wage.
Florida Overtime Pay Law
Florida’s overtime pay law requires employers to pay their non-exempt employees at least one and a half times their regular pay rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek. This overtime pay rate is known as "time and a half."
For example, if an employee typically earns $15 per hour and works 45 hours in a workweek, they are entitled to their regular pay rate of $15 per hour for the first 40 hours worked and then an overtime pay rate of $22.50 ($15 x 1.5) for the additional five hours worked.
Florida law does not require employers to provide overtime pay for work on the weekends or holidays unless the employee works more than 40 hours in the workweek.
It is important to note that some employees may be exempt from Florida's overtime pay law if they meet specific criteria, such as being classified as a salaried employee and earning a certain minimum salary. However, employers must follow strict rules to classify employees as exempt, and misclassifying employees can result in legal liability.
Florida Anti-Discrimination and Harassment Law
Florida law prohibits discrimination in employment based on an individual’s color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, marital status, or genetic information. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who assert their rights under these anti-discrimination laws.
Additionally, Florida law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can take many forms, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Employers have a legal obligation to investigate complaints of discrimination and harassment, take appropriate remedial action, and prevent future incidents from occurring. Employees who believe they have been subjected to discrimination or harassment can file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Florida Workers Compensation Law
Florida’s workers’ compensation law requires employers to provide insurance coverage for employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. The insurance coverage pays for medical expenses, lost wages, and other benefits to which an injured or ill employee may be entitled. Employees covered by workers' compensation are generally barred from suing their employer for any injuries or illnesses arising out of and during their employment, except in limited circumstances.
To receive workers' compensation benefits, employees must immediately report their injury or illness to their employer and seek medical treatment from an authorized healthcare provider. The healthcare provider will evaluate the employee's condition and determine if they are eligible for benefits.
If an employee's claim for workers' compensation benefits is denied, they have the right to appeal the decision and seek a hearing before a judge of compensation claims. Employees injured on the job may also be eligible for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration or other government agencies.
Florida Child Labor Laws
Florida law regulates the employment of minors to ensure that their work does not interfere with their education, health, or well-being. The following are some of the critical provisions of Florida's child labor laws:
Age requirements: Minors must be at least 14 years old to work in Florida, except in certain limited circumstances like babysitting or domestic work in a private residence.
Work hours: During the school year, minors who are 14 and 15 years old can only work a maximum of 15 hours per week and no more than three hours on school days. They can work up to eight hours on non-school days. During the summer and other non-school periods, they can work up to eight hours per day and up to 40 hours per week.
Occupations: Florida law prohibits minors under 16 years old from working in certain hazardous fields, such as mining, logging, and operating heavy machinery. Minors under 18 years old are also prohibited from working in roofing and demolition.
Work permits: Minors under 18 must obtain a work permit before starting a job in Florida. The minor's parent or guardian and a school official must sign the work permit.
Breaks: Minors working more than four hours a day must be given a 30-minute break.
What Are the Penalties for Unlawful Termination in Florida?
Under Florida law, employers are prohibited from terminating employees for discriminatory reasons, such as race, sex, age, religion, national origin, or disability. Employers are also prohibited from retaliating against employees who assert their rights under these anti-discrimination laws, such as by reporting discrimination or filing a complaint with the appropriate government agency.
If an employer is found to have unlawfully terminated an employee in violation of these laws, the employee may be entitled to various forms of legal relief, including the following:
Reinstatement: The employee may be entitled to be reinstated in their former position or a similar position with the employer.
Back pay: The employee may be entitled to recover lost wages and benefits resulting from the termination.
Compensatory damages: The employee may be entitled to recover damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and other non-economic losses resulting from termination.
Punitive damages: In some instances, the employee may be entitled to recover punitive damages intended to punish the employer for their wrongful conduct.
Employers who violate Florida’s anti-discrimination laws can also face significant fines and legal penalties. Depending on the nature and severity of the violation, these penalties can include civil fines, criminal sanctions, and injunctive relief requiring the employer to change their policies and practices.
How Much Can Someone Sue an Employer For in Florida?
The amount that someone can sue an employer for in Florida depends on the specific legal claims being asserted and the damages suffered by the plaintiff. For example, if an employee is suing for unpaid wages or overtime, they may be able to recover the amount of the unpaid wages, plus interest and attorney’s fees.
Suppose an employee is suing for discrimination or retaliation. In that case, they may recover damages for lost wages, emotional distress, and other economic and non-economic losses resulting from the employer's wrongful conduct. The damages in these cases can vary widely depending on the severity and duration of the discrimination or retaliation, as well as the case's individual circumstances.
The Statute of Limitations in Florida
In Florida, the statute of limitations for labor law violations depends on the type of violation. The table below includes some common examples.
Type of Violation
Statute of Limitations
Discrimination and harassment
In certain circumstances, such as a continuing violation or if the employer tried to conceal the offense, the statute of limitations may be extended to cover the entire duration of the violation. In addition, filing a charge with an administrative agency, such as the Florida Commission on Human Relations or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, may toll the statute of limitations while the charge is pending.
Resources for Employees in Florida
If you're a Florida worker who has experienced a labor law violation, navigating the legal system on your own can be challenging. Fortunately, several legal resources in Florida can help you understand your rights, file a complaint, and seek justice.
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) provides information on and enforces some labor laws related to minimum wage and overtime. The DEO also offers a complaint form that you can use to file a complaint about a potential labor law violation. The form can be submitted online or by mail, and the DEO will follow up if more information is needed.
In addition, the DEO provides a mediation program that can help resolve disputes between employees and employers. Mediation is often desirable for both parties, as it is a less costly alternative than going to court and can help them reach a mutually agreeable solution.
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can be a valuable legal resource for individuals who have experienced a labor law violation by providing legal assistance, mediation services, and potentially representing victims in court. They also enforce federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on protected characteristics like race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and genetic information.
In addition, the EEOC provides education and outreach to individuals and employers to help prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place. They offer training programs, workshops, and other resources to help promote a better understanding of anti-discrimination laws.
Florida Legal Services
Florida Legal Services (FLS) is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal assistance to low-income individuals and communities throughout Florida. FLS offers various legal services related to labor and employment law, including wage and hour disputes, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and wrongful termination.
FLS ensures that victims of labor law violations can navigate the legal system and protect their rights by providing free legal representation and advice to individuals who may not have the resources to hire a private attorney. Additionally, FLS conducts community education and outreach on labor and employment law issues. This can raise awareness among workers about their rights and provide them with the tools they need to protect themselves against labor law violations.
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida is a nonprofit organization that works to protect and defend civil liberties and rights throughout the state. While the ACLU's primary focus is on constitutional rights, they may be able to provide legal assistance to individuals who have experienced a labor law violation. Additionally, this organization may provide legal representation for individuals who have experienced a labor law violation and have a strong civil liberties or constitutional case.
In addition, the ACLU of Florida advocates for policies and reforms that protect civil liberties, including those related to labor and employment law. They may work to strengthen or change existing laws to protect workers' rights better and prevent labor law violations from occurring.
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