- BEFORE YOU SUE: 10 questions every employee should ask – By Robin Shea
Florida is an “at will” employment state, meaning that both the employer and employee may terminate employment at any time, with some exceptions, such as discrimination or retaliation. If you feel your employer has wrongfully harassed, terminated or owes you unpaid wages, there are several questions you may ask yourself before filing a lawsuit.
- New Exemption Rules May Be Delayed To Late 2016 – Posted by Bill Pokorny
New rules proposed by the Department of Labor for employee exemption under the FLSA will take effect sometime during 2016. With a huge influx of comments regarding the new rule proposal, the DoL is likely to delay the rule changes to late in the upcoming year. Employers are still clamoring to impose new policies to ensure compliance with the new rules. Likely changes will include a raise in the minimum salary for exempt employees, which will be approximately $50,440 per year. New classifications of employees, and/or raises in salary (to maintain exempt status) are expected by employers in the coming months prior to the rules coming into effect.
- Employer’s Policy Was Illegal But Enforcing it Was Not – Huh? – By Dennis J. Merley
A Texas hospital loses and then wins in federal court against charges of violations under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A nurse, employed at the hospital took leave under the Family Medical Leave Act for two months due to personal medical issues. Shortly after her return, she informed her employer that she would need to go on leave again, for a amount of time that would exceed both the FMLA coverage and violate hospital policy. The hospital terminated the nurse, claiming that they could not accommodate such a long leave of absence under any circumstance.
The nurse filed charges with the Employment Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and received a determination that cited the hospital policy created an artificial mechanism that violated the ADA. The nurse then brought her claim to federal court with her EEOC “Right to Sue” notice.
The federal court ruled that the hospital’s policy did violate the ADA and was illegal. However, they upheld the hospital’s termination of the nurse was legal because her request did not include a return time and the expectation of an indefinite leave of absence was considered excessive and not protected by federal law. Basically, it was illegal for the employer to have a policy that did not provide flexibility to accommodate disabled employees, but the employee cannot expect an indefinite leave of absence, which would place an unreasonable burden on the employer.
- Study shows older female job-seekers have harder time getting hired – Sivertson and Barrette, P.A.
A research conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research has found a substantial prejudice against older female applicants. Studies determined that younger applicants received call backs from potential employers at a much higher rate than older applicants and even higher than older female applicants. This is contrary to an older study which suggested that older male job seekers received the greatest level of hiring prejudice. Discrimination based on gender or age (older than 40) is illegal under federal law and may be subject to civil action.
- Court Rules Light Duty Work Not Sheltered Employment in Florida Workers’ Compensation Case – by Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A.
A housekeeper injured her shoulder at work. He physician ordered her back to work with a “light duty” restriction. Her employer offered her a temporary position in regards to her doctor’s recommendations, which the housekeeper refused, stating that she would prefer to return to work after completion of her physical therapy in approximately two months. The employer terminated her in response, citing that her refusal to return to work or call in as grounds for her termination.
Upon the housekeeper’s completion of physical therapy, she filed for partial disability benefits, but was denied her workman’s compensation claim by her employer due to her refusing light duty. At a JCC hearing the woman cited that the light duty offer was “sheltered employment” under Florida Statute 440.15(6).
The judge denied her appeal, stating that the light duty job offer was reasonable and suitable under in her condition. She was ultimately denied her benefits claim due to her unjustified refusal for suitable work.
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