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Fort Lauderdale Employment Law Blog

What if you are deployed as a reservist?

Your service as a reservist in Fort Lauderdale affords you the unique opportunity to both serve in the military while also developing a prosperous civilian career. Yet there may be times when your military service conflicts with your career ambitions. Say that you have recently been hired into a new position, yet also received word that your unit is going to be deployed. A military deployment can be as brief as 90 days or as long as 15 months (depending on the position that you serve in). What if, after your deployment ends, you immediately need to take an extended leave of absence to address medical concerns? 

As you likely know, the Family and Medical Leave Act entitles you to up to 12 weeks of leave from work per year should you (or a member of your immediate family) encounter serious medical problems. However, in order to qualify for leave under FMLA, you have to have worked for your current employer for at least 12 months (and you must have worked a minimum of 1,250 hours during that year-long period). Can you still qualify for such leave if extended military service interrupts your first year with a new company?

Ban the box to spear fair employment

Most people desire to work and support themselves. However, some obstacles make it difficult for certain parties to secure and maintain quality employment.

Thankfully, there are programs and laws in place to promote fair employment for all. In particular, ban the box is a new initiative making its way across the nation.

Can I refuse to take lunch breaks?

Rules about lunch and meal breaks vary from workplace to workplace, or even from state to state. As a result, it can be complicated for workers to navigate the specific rules at their given place of employment. One common question concerns whether it's permissible for a worker to refuse a lunch break. The Balance aims to answer this and other questions regarding the legality of lunch and meal breaks for workers. 

Working through a lunch break is a sticking point for many employers. While lunch breaks can be unpaid, employees working through lunch must be paid for the time they put in. This is true even if the worker was told that he or she must take a lunch break. Ultimately, it's up to the employer to enforce the laws regarding breaks, and if they're unable to do so, no matter the reason, they are still responsible for remitting payment.

What is disparate impact?

Disparate impact in Florida occurs when the business practices at your place of employment, or a place where you would like to work, have a disproportionately negative effect on individuals of a protected class, even though there is no intent to discriminate behind the practice. According to FindLaw, it is difficult to prove a case of disparate impact in court. It often requires considerable statistical analysis to demonstrate that members of your protected class are experiencing a negative outcome more often and more consistently than members of other groups. For this reason, the court considers each claim on a case-by-case basis. 

The first Supreme Court case to address the issue of disparate impact involved an employer who screened applicants for a labor position on the basis of whether or not they had attained a high school diploma. The requirement excluded a disproportionate number of African American applicants despite the fact that that was not the intention of the employer. Examples of other practices that may have a disparate impact include pre-employment skills testing and layoffs.

Dealing with lactation issues at work

As a new mother in Fort Lauderdale, you no doubt cherish those first few months that you have to bond with your new baby. Going back to work once your maternity leave has ended can be extremely difficult, yet not simply due to having to leave your baby. If you are nursing your newborn, then the task of storing  breastmilk when your baby is not eating is vital. Postpartum lactation is often a difficult subject to address, and you (like many others that we here at The Law Office of Michelle Cohen Levy, PA have worked with) may feel self-conscious about bringing it up with your employer. Yet the law recognizes your needs, and has put protections in place to help you while you are at work. 

You might assume that your right to store breastmilk while at work is afforded under the Family and Medical Leave Act, yet it is actually another federal law that endows this privilege. The Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 2010 to include a Break Time for Nursing Mothers provision. In this provision, it states that your employer is required to allow you break time to express breastmilk (as needed) for up to one year after the birth of your baby. In addition, you must be provided a space to do so (other than a bathroom in your workplace) that is shielded from view and free from any potential intrusions from both coworkers and the public. 

Understanding initial probationary employment periods

There will almost always be some amount of trepidation when you start a new job in Fort Lauderdale. You want to come in right away an impress your new employer. In many professional positions, however, it is often understood that there will be an early acclimation period during which you get up to speed with regard to your new responsibilities. It is for this reason why so many come to us here at The Law Office of Michelle Cohen Levy, P.S. confused as to why they were so quickly dismissed from their new positions. Oftentimes, employers in such situations will state that these people were let go during their probationary period. 

Can an employer immediately place you (as a new hire) into a probationary status? The law does indeed allow them to do so to help ensure that you are a good fit for both the position that you have been hired for and within the company’s overall culture. However, Section 443.131 of Florida’s state statutes says that if an employer does hire you into an initial probationary period, you must be informed of that fact within seven days of commencing your née job. State law also does not allow that period to exceed 90 days. 

What is the status of the proposed minimum wage increase?

As a worker in Florida, you may be aware of a movement to increase the national minimum wage to $15 per hour. Since the current minimum wage in the United States is $7.25, this would represent a dramatic change, more than doubling the current minimum. While once regarded as unfeasible, even quixotic, CNN reports that the Raise the Wage Act recently reached the congressional floor. 

States have the authority to set their own minimum wage, as do some municipalities. The rule is that they are not allowed to go under the national minimum, although they can go over. The average hourly wage for fast-food workers was approximately $9 per hour in the year 2012. The movement pushing for a $15 per hour national minimum wage was born in New York City in late autumn of that year when a group of fast-food employees walked off the job to demand higher pay. 

Did your accent cost you a job promotion?

Everyone speaks a bit differently. Whether you come from the Deep South, the Bronx, middle America, a foreign country or somewhere else, you probably have some sort of accent. While the way you speak is likely an integral part of your identity, an accent may hold you back in the workplace. 

As you likely know, certain types of workplace discrimination violate federal law. While federal antidiscrimination provisions do not expressly cover your accent, other related laws may prevent your employer from using your accent as a reason to not promote you or otherwise discriminate against you.   

How can I heal from past sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment impacts people in more ways than one. Even if your workplace has sufficiently dealt with the issue, chances are you're still caught in the emotional aftermath. Proper healing from harassment is important both professionally and personally. Very Well Mind recommends taking the following steps after you've experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. 

First and foremost, do not assume blame. It's too easy in this culture to assume that you did something to warrant the behavior that was directed at you. Keep in mind that this is in no way true. Harassers take action as a means to wield power over others and are completely responsible for their actions. How a person dresses or how friendly they are have nothing to do with being harassed. While you have no control over what happened or the actions of another person, you can control your reaction to what occurred.

What are some ways managers violate FMLA rules?

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides unpaid leave to workers for medical issues they or their loved ones are experiencing. There are a number of rules in place dictating the proper FMLA procedures, both for employees as well as employers. According to SHRM.org, many supervisors violate these rules and regulations, both intentionally and unintentionally. This can result in legal woes if a worker files a claim stating that his or her rights have been violated.

An employee cannot be fired for taking approved leave, no matter how a manager might feel about the issue. Even if there are other issues in play, such as behavioral problems or issues with work output, even intimating a firing has to do with the leave or illness is problematic. Managers are also not permitted to discuss medical issues with other workers. Disclosing medical problems or the underlying reason for leave can incur huge legal blowback if the employee in question becomes aware of the disclosure. 

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