It is best to deal with employee disputes sooner rather than later. You should have a protocol in place to deal with employees who accuse supervisors or other employees of harassing them, claim they were discriminated against, or need to be appropriately fired if they are not working out.
You can try to mediate employment contract disputes or terminate at-will workers in ways that preclude them from retaliating against your business. At Sparks Law, a skilled attorney can help you in any of these situations. A Florida employment disputes lawyer could negotiate, mediate, document, memorialize key agreements, and represent you in court or before regulatory boards.
Employee termination is emotional for both parties. The employee may be angry and try to retaliate, and the employer must find a suitable replacement. In Florida, at-will employees can be fired for no reason and at any time. However, if an employment contract is in place, the employer will have to either fire the employee at the end of the contract term or claim the employee breached the contract as grounds for termination. Disputes of this magnitude often end up in court.
Contracted employees often sign restrictive covenants such as non-competition and non-solicitation clauses. This means that they agree to refrain from competing with an employer when they leave the business and to not solicit other employees or clients away from the original employer. They may also have agreed not to share trade secrets or any confidential information.
Employees who sign non-compete, non-solicitation, confidentiality, and non-disclosure agreements may still take the issue to court in hopes the judge will strike down the restrictive covenants or agreements as unreasonable. Florida has been critical of these agreements in the past but will allow them to stand if they restrict the employee to a reasonable geographic area, length of time, and specific actions. For example, an employer who fires a research scientist whose team developed a critical vaccine could argue that the employee should not share these formulas with a new employer. There are many disagreements that could arise in these situations, making it important to work with a Florida employment disputes lawyer.
At-will employees are not entitled to reasons for discharge. However, if they suspect they are being discriminated against under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Florida Civil Rights Act, or other state and federal laws, they may file a lawsuit or complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC has identified race, skin color, religion, age, gender, disabilities, and genetic profiling as protected classes.
Workplace disputes often arise because of unpaid wages, including overtime. The federal minimum wage set by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is $7.25 per hour. Effective September 30, 2021, Florida’s minimum wage increases to $10.00 from $8.65 and will continue to increase through 2026 when it reaches $15.00 hourly. Tipped and student employees are paid less. Florida employers generally must pay the higher state rate instead of the federal rate. Disgruntled employees can dispute wage issues with the state or federal Department of Labor or file a lawsuit with counsel from a nearby attorney.
Employees may claim sexual harassment when a supervisor’s attention crosses the line. These complaints could also arise when another employee is the alleged harasser. Repeated off-color conduct that is offensive to others is also sexual harassment, such as raunchy jokes. If a person tells management about a sexual harassment complaint and they do not address the issue, a skilled employment disputes attorney could help them understand their legal options.
You should consider various proactive methods at your company to ward off disputes between employees and management. Employee handbooks, a written procedure for filing complaints, non-discrimination policies, verification of hours worked and wages paid, and a repertoire of acceptable employee contracts are all good systems to have in place.
A Florida employment disputes lawyer can help keep your business running smoothly by providing these crucial documents and protocols and by representing you in court or before a regulatory agency if a dispute escalates. Call today for an initial consultation.