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The HR Specialist: Florida Employment Law

Most pregnancies proceed normally, with little or no real trouble for the mother. However, that’s not always the case. When things go wrong, the mother-to-be may be entitled to reasonable accommodations under the ADA. That’s true even if she hasn’t worked for her employer long enough to be eligible for FMLA leave.

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OSHA has ordered Orlando’s SeaWorld marine park to change the ways in which trainers and orcas interact following the death of orca trainer Dawn Brancheau.

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If you interview employees during the course of investigating alleged misconduct, make sure to take accurate notes. Then, before concluding the interview, have the employee read and sign the notes, attesting that they accurately reflect what was said. Don’t let the employee put off signing.

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Under Title VII, religious institutions that employ workers to engage in religious activities are exempt from complying with anti-discrimination laws under the so-called ministerial exception. But what about minimum wage and overtime? Are ministerial employees entitled to protection under the FLSA?

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Employees undergoing normal pregnancies don’t have an ADA claim.

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Smart employers have policies that require supervisors to document all discipline. That documentation can come in handy if a discharged employee decides to sue. The fact is, employers usually win lawsuits if they show they had a legitimate reason for an employment decision.

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A Tampa-area Subway franchisee will pay $7,536 in back wages plus $3,768 in liquidated damages following a ruling by a federal judge that workers should have been paid for the time they spent taking a required “Sandwich Artist Certification” course.

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Employees are supposed to get FMLA certifications back to their employers within 15 days. But it’s not a good idea to terminate an employee simply because you didn’t receive the paperwork on time. The FMLA regulations include an out for employees who miss the deadline for reasons beyond their control.

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Ill-chosen words can haunt incautious supervisors. Example: Using the term “slacker” to describe someone who misses lots of work. Here’s why: Disparaging comments may be proof that the employer retaliated against an employee for taking too much leave.

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Lifeguard Tomas Lopez was perched atop his chair at Hallandale Beach on July 1 when he heard calls for help. He sprinted down the beach, dove into the Atlantic and helped rescue a man who was struggling in the surf. The swimmer survived; the lifeguard’s job did not …

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Is it protected activity that can’t be punished if an employee who is not yet eligible asks to take FMLA leave? Put another way, can an employer fire an employee who requests FMLA leave before the employee is actually eligible? A federal court has said, “No!” That’s illegal retaliation.

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SunTrust faces a federal sexual harassment lawsuit after three women who worked at the bank’s Sarasota Gulf Gate branch accused a manager of inappropriate touching and making lewd and unwelcome comments about their anatomy, sex lives and dating habits.

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The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered Barton G, the company that owns three renowned Miami fine-dining restaurants, to pay $28,000 to low-wage workers who did not receive minimum wage.

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Not every pregnancy is the same and not every pregnant woman can perform her job right up until she goes into labor. Because there is so much variability and because women are protected from pregnancy discrimination, it’s crucial to consider each case individually.

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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has approved new grounds for discrimination lawsuits. It recently ruled that employees who file discrimination complaints can sue for retaliation if their employers punish them with a hostile work environment.

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Here’s an important reminder for supervisors: Details count at evaluation time, especially if poor performance will lead to a performance improvement plan or even discharge.

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Generally, a single racially charged incident won’t create a hostile work environment. But repeated or escalating incidents will. That’s why employers should take immediate, firm action to stop future problems.

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“Nopalera” is Spanish for a “patch of prickly cactus.” That’s exactly where the owners of a Gainesville restaurant called La Nopalera found themselves after the DOL discovered they weren’t paying wages to Hispanic employees, making them work for tips alone.

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The Equal Pay Act (EPA) requires that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for substantially similar work. If you discover a pay disparity between substantially similar male and female employees, fix the problem right away to let women catch up. Don’t use pay policies as an excuse to slow the process.

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The manager of a Sarasota-area OfficeMax made life so miserable for an employee who filed a racial discrimination claim that he was forced to resign, according to the EEOC. Now it’s suing on the man’s behalf.

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