Florida Employment & Labor Laws
In general, Florida workers enjoy many of the same labor protections as most workers in other states. These protections are set in place by either state or federal mandates, and they cover a range of aspects affecting workers’ rights, from minimum wage scales to working conditions and more. And one highly important worker protection and benefit is the prescription of rules governing overtime pay. But what happens when an employer fails to pay overtime wages that are owed an employee? Fortunately, there are certain legal rules that govern this situation, and often Florida workers owed overtime wages can, with the right legal counsel, regain the overtime wages owed to them.
Wage and Hour Laws in Florida
In the state of Florida, employees are entitled to a higher minimum wage than the federal rate of $7.25 per hour. Because state law overrides the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), workers in the Sunshine State make $7.67 per hour, effective Jan. 1, 2012. It is illegal for a Florida employer to pay workers less than $7.67 per hour, unless the employee is exempt. Among those exceptions are professionals who are paid on a salary basis and those who earn gratuities, such as restaurant servers. Also, there are exemptions for police officers and firefighters who work under specific circumstances, just as there are exemptions for some hospital and nursing-home employees, as well.
Overtime Laws in Florida
When it comes to overtime laws, federal rules apply in Florida because the state has no specific laws regarding the payment of overtime. These federal requirements are understood by most workers to be the norm nationwide, and courts have historically enforced them in order to prevent employers from unfairly taking advantage of their workers. And, in general, these rules are straightforward. For example, non-exempt employees are eligible to receive overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in one week. Overtime pay generally is considered to be one-and-a-half times the regular hourly rate. So in Florida, overtime wages are $11.51 per hour for every hour worked after 40 in the same week. However, note that working night or weekend hours does not necessarily mean an employee should earn overtime pay. Shift differentials must be agreed upon by the employer and employee.
Orlando Employment Attorney
In addition to a higher minimum wage, Florida law also provides the state's laborers with a longer statute of limitations for employment lawsuits. Employees have up to four years to make a claim with an Orlando employment attorney. That deadline is extended to five years if the employer's actions -- to avoid paying overtime wages or other workplace issues – are what the courts consider "willful." Florida residents also have the right to recover missed wages, attorney costs, equitable relief (such as a so-called court order), and damages worth double the back pay that is owed. These rights are important worker protections, and often they only can be attained by legal counsel that is knowledgeable in Florida employment law and willing to fight aggressively for employees’ rights.
If you believe your employment rights have been violated, contact our qualified Orlando employment attorneys for a free case evaluation at 407-420-3999.