Florida Employment Attorney
The Firm is committed to proudly serving Florida’s workers and small businesses.
Employment Attorney Committed to Serving Florida Workers and Small Businesses
I proudly represent both employers and employees. As a solo practitioner, my clients have direct, unfettered access to me as their employment attorney. This is a different concept than what you will find in larger law firms or with many other solo practitioners. I believe that this type of access is something that clients should expect from their Sarasota employment lawyer. I also understand that my clients have busy lives and respect their time as precious.
The ultimate goal of most employees and employers is to rectify the immediate disruptions to the workplace for both parties. Prolonged litigation, hostility, and excessive legal costs are never a part of either party’s desired outcome. At the end of the day, an employee wants to continue to work and receive a living wage for his or her job. My clients tend to take pride in what they do and are generally looking for opportunities for advancement and continuing to provide for their families.
Strategies for Resolving Employment Matters
Mediation and other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) provide many of my clients on both the employer and employee sides with the opportunity to investigate and settle claims amicably. If mediation breaks down, I prepare my client to go to trial and protect and affirm their rights. Litigation is a costly and time-consuming process that requires a commitment to excellence.
ADR is not always a potential outcome in every legal issue. Parties may disagree or be unwilling to settle or may be too far apart to reach an agreement. I will always place my clients in the best possible position in case of litigation. When I represent the Plaintiff as a Sarasota employment attorney, my client will make the decision on whether we go to trial, and I will prepare diligently for potential litigation from the moment that we start the free consultation.
Employment Law Overview
Florida is an at-will state. Usually, both the employer and the employee can terminate employment for no reason or arbitrarily, as long as it is not for an illegal reason. There are situations in which a detailed employment agreement applies to the employment relationship and specifies the conditions under which the termination of the agreement is acceptable. It might, for example, specify that termination must be for just cause. The Employment Agreement may include a Non-Compete Clause that is drafted to protect valid business interests, such as customer lists, trade secrets, extraordinary training, and substantial relationships with certain customers.
Sexual harassment is a form of employment discrimination that is prohibited under both federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state laws. It occurs when an employee is harassed due to his or her sex, and it can include touching, groping, memes, insults, jokes, assault, off-color remarks, and more. Sexual harassment may take the form of quid pro quo harassment, in which an authority figure within the workplace conditions employment on submission to sexual overtures. However, it can also take the form of hostile work environment harassment, which occurs when harassment is so severe or so pervasive that it changes the terms and conditions of employment. If you believe that you are being sexually harassed by a supervisor or coworker, you should consult an employment attorney in the Sarasota area who can help you assert your rights.
Employment discrimination occurs when an employer makes an adverse employment decision due to an employee’s membership in a protected class. For example, if an employee is passed over for a promotion because she is from Iraq, this may be employment discrimination on the basis of national origin. In Florida, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and several other employment discrimination laws govern Florida employers with at least 15 employees. Florida’s anti-discrimination law also governs employers with at least 15 employees. Under Florida state law, discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, age, marital status, sickle cell trait, or AIDS/HIV is prohibited.
It can be difficult to tell when age discrimination has occurred. You are protected from age discrimination by federal and state laws. The federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) provides protection against age discrimination to employees who are at least 40 years old and who work for a business with a minimum of 20 employees. Under the Florida Civil Rights Act, it is illegal for an employer to terminate, refuse to hire, demote, or discriminate in other ways against a worker because of his or her age. Florida law provides protection against age discrimination, but it applies to employers with at least 15 employees, and it protects both younger and older workers.
Both federal and state laws prohibit disability discrimination, and a Sarasota employment lawyer can advise you on whether you have a claim under either law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that prohibits disability discrimination. It also mandates that employers provide disabled employees with reasonable accommodations to allow them to do their jobs, except when doing so would present the employer with an undue hardship. Reasonable accommodations could include alterations to job duties, changes to the workspace, changes in policies or rules, and alterations to work routines. The ADA also protects people with a record of a disability and people who are perceived as having a disability.
Federal and state laws govern wage and hour matters, such as minimum wage and overtime. When provisions of federal and state laws are in conflict, Florida employers are supposed to comply with whichever law results in the worker being paid more. Currently, Florida’s minimum wage is higher than the federal minimum wage. However, Florida follows federal overtime rules. Workers are supposed to be paid 1½ times their regular rate of pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Our employment lawyer can guide Sarasota employees and employers through wage and hour litigation.
An employer may not terminate or retaliate against an employee who reports the employer’s illegal or unethical practices. There are Florida and National whistleblower laws to protect employees who make these types of reports from retaliation. If you are subjected to retaliation in violation of the Florida Whistleblower’s Act, you can sue for lost wages, back pay, and back and full benefits. If you want protection under the Florida law, you must have revealed or threatened to reveal the employer’s activity, policy, or practice to an agency, and the activity, policy, or practice must have contravened a regulation, rule, or law. The employer must have retaliated against you because of your disclosure or threat to disclose, and you must have provided written notification to the employer of the activity, policy, or practice so that it had a reasonable opportunity to correct it.
We offer a free consultation to employees. If we move forward with their case, we communicate clearly and consistently with the client so that they have control over how their matter is resolved. We will honestly describe the likely range of outcomes that could result from litigation so that a client knows what to expect and can make informed decisions. Our employment lawyer represents employees in Sarasota and elsewhere under a Contingent Fee Arrangement. This means that we do not get paid unless we get money for you, and the fee is taken out of the settlement or judgment that you are awarded.
Numerous federal and state laws govern an employer’s conduct and treatment of job applicants and employees. We can draft employment agreements that will protect an at-will employment relationship so that an employer and an employee have the freedom to terminate their relationship in an amicable way. Our firm represents employers that wish to cultivate a cooperative, professional, and legally compliant work environment. If an employer faces liability through litigation, our firm provides cost-effective legal counsel on how to effectively resolve the controversy in favor of the client and limit costs. In addition to employment discrimination and wage and hour cases, we can counsel an employer with regard to their obligations and rights under the Federal Drug Free Workplace Act, employee privacy and social media, and independent contractor agreements.
Consult an Experienced Employment Attorney in the Sarasota Area
Whether you are an employer or an employee, you should consult the Malatesta Law Office if a dispute related to the workplace appears to be on the horizon. The Firm is positioned to represent clients throughout Florida. Our firm represents clients in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Bradenton, Cape Coral, Port Charlotte, Arcadia, and other communities in Sarasota, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Lee, Charlotte, and DeSoto Counties. Call us at (941) 256-3812 or complete our online form to set up an appointment.