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The HR Specialist: Florida Employment Law

A former sales manager for Palm Beach-based Ocwen Loan Servicing has pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in connection with his management of foreclosed homes for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

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Employees who are guilty of misconduct aren’t eligible for unemployment compensation in Florida. That means if they’re fired for missing a lot of work, habitually arriving late or leaving early, they can be denied unemployment benefits.

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Some employees believe that if their supervisor tolerates misconduct, those further up the workplace hierarchy can’t do anything about it. That’s not true.

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Apple Computer’s hip youth culture may have met its match in Michael Katz, a former employee who is suing the company for age bias.

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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over Florida employers, has started cracking down on employees who file false and frivolous claims. It’s losing patience for the attorneys who represent them, too. That may mean fewer such cases in the near future.

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It was big news last fall when it became apparent that some bank representatives involved in home foreclosures never even examined the court affidavits they were signing. Judges are becoming more reluctant to accept such sworn statements in litigation—and not just in cases involving foreclosures.

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Jeremy David Schweickert will serve a 27-month sentence in federal prison for his part in a scheme to defraud his former employer, Tampa-based OSI Restaurant Partners.

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Here’s an all-too-frequent scenario: Misconduct leads to discipline, perhaps even discharge. Then the employee sues, alleging that for years, he’s been subjected to harassment on account of a protected characteristic. Don’t let that happen to you.

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It’s been over a decade since the U.S. Supreme Court laid down the law on what employers need to do to prevent and cure sexual harassment. That’s long enough for complacency to have set in. By now, some employers may have started taking sexual harassment less seriously than they did when the court first ruled. That’s a potentially costly mistake.

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Eventually, your organization will be blindsided by a discrimination lawsuit that seems to come out of nowhere. In fact, it may hit years after the alleged bias occurred. That means you may long ago have discarded the documents that could clear the company. But courts are growing impatient with employees who launch such sneak attacks, as this recent 11th Circuit decision shows.

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