Labor laws are laws and regulations that protect the rights of employees and establish the terms and conditions of employment. These laws cover a wide range of issues such as minimum wage, overtime pay, working hours, discrimination, harassment, leave, and safety, among others.

The purpose of labor laws is to ensure that employees are treated fairly and are provided with safe and healthy working conditions. In Florida, there are several labor laws that protect the rights of employees.

Most Important Florida Labor Laws Regarding Employee Rights

1. The Florida Minimum Wage Act

The Florida Minimum Wage Act is a state law that establishes the minimum wage that employers must pay to employees. It sets the minimum wage rate for non-exempt employees, which are employees who are not exempt from overtime pay. As of 2021, the minimum wage in Florida is $8.65 per hour.

The Florida Minimum Wage Act applies to most employers in the state, including private employers, public employers, and labor organizations. Some exceptions apply, such as for certain types of employees, such as tipped employees, who are paid a lower minimum wage.

The Florida Minimum Wage Act requires employers to pay their employees the minimum wage for all hours worked. Employers are also required to pay employees the minimum wage for any work that is performed before or after regular working hours, such as overtime or work on weekends or holidays.

Employers who violate the Florida Minimum Wage Act can be subject to penalties, including fines and/or back pay to employees. Employees who believe that their rights under the Act have been violated can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

2. The Florida Overtime Law

The Florida Overtime Law is a state law that requires employers to pay employees overtime pay for hours worked over 40 hours per week. Under the Florida Overtime Law, employees who work more than 40 hours in a workweek must be paid overtime at a rate of one and one-half times their regular rate of pay.

The Florida Overtime Law applies to most non-exempt employees, which are employees who are not exempt from overtime pay. Some exceptions apply, such as for certain types of employees, such as salaried employees, independent contractors, and some agricultural workers.

Employers must keep accurate records of the hours worked by employees to ensure compliance with the Florida Overtime Law. Employers who violate the Florida Overtime Law can be subject to penalties, including fines and/or back pay to employees.

Employees who believe that their rights under the Act have been violated can file a complaint with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

It is important to note that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) also requires employers to pay overtime to non-exempt employees, but it sets a higher threshold of 44 hours per week. Employers are required to comply with the law that provides the most favorable protection for their employees.

3. The Florida Whistle-blower’s Act

The Florida Whistleblower’s Act is a state law that provides protection to employees who report illegal or unethical conduct by their employer. The law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report such conduct and provides remedies for employees who have been retaliated against.

The types of conduct that are protected under the law include fraud, mismanagement, waste of public funds, and violations of laws and regulations. The law applies to all public employers in Florida, including state and local governments and their agencies. Under the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act, employees are protected from retaliation for reporting:

  • Illegal activities
  • Fraud
  • Misuse of public funds
  • Violations of state or federal laws
  • Endangerment of public health or safety
  • Discrimination or harassment

Employees who believe they have been retaliated against for reporting misconduct can file a complaint with their agency’s human resources department or the Florida Commission on Human Relations. If the complaint is found to be valid, the employee may be eligible for reinstatement, back pay, and damages.

It is important to note that the Florida Whistle-blower Act does not protect employees who make false or malicious reports of misconduct. Additionally, employees must follow proper reporting procedures and may not disclose confidential or privileged information.

4. The Florida Civil Rights Act

The Florida Civil Rights Act is a state law that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, and marital status. It also provides remedies for individuals who have been the victims of discrimination, including the ability to file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations and to seek damages in court.

The law applies to employers, landlords, and businesses that are open to the public, as well as to labor unions and employment agencies. It is enforced by the Florida Commission on Human Relations and by the Florida attorney general.

This state law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on certain protected characteristics, including race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability.

5. Florida Family and Medical Leave Act

The Florida Family and Medical Leave Act (FFMLA) is a state law that provides certain employees with the right to take up to 3 months of unpaid leave for certain family or medical reasons, including the birth or adoption of a child, the care of a family member with a serious health condition, or the employee’s own serious health condition.

To be eligible for leave under the FFMLA, employees must have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and have worked at least 1,250 hours during the 12 months prior to the start of the leave. Employers covered by the law are those that employ 50 or more employees for at least 20 calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.

Employers are required to maintain health insurance for employees on FFMLA leave at the same level and under the same conditions as if the employee were not on leave. An employee returning from leave must be restored to their original position or an equivalent position with equivalent pay and benefits.

It is important to note that the FFMLA is not a federal law, it is a state law and it is different from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which is a federal law.

6. Florida Safe Harbor Act

The Florida Safe Harbor Act is a state law that provides some protection for employers who are facing unemployment compensation claims from employees who were terminated for misconduct. Under the Act, an employer may provide evidence that an employee’s termination was based on “misconduct connected with the work” in order to avoid liability for unemployment compensation benefits.

The law defines “misconduct connected with the work” as an intentional or negligent act or failure to act that is committed by an employee that is:

  • a violation of an employer’s written policy,
  • a deliberate violation of an employer’s rule,
  • a disregard for standards of behavior that the employer has the right to expect of an employee,
  • neglect of an employee’s duties,
  • a violation of a state or federal statute or regulation that is directly related to the employee’s job,
  • or falsification of records.

It is important to note that the Act applies only to employees who are terminated for misconduct and not to employees who are laid off, downsized, or terminated for other reasons. Additionally, employers must have a written policy that clearly communicates the standards of behavior that are expected of employees and the consequences of violating those standards in order to use this Act as a defense.

7. The Florida Healthy Workplace Act

The Florida Healthy Workplace Act (FHWA) is a state law that aims to protect employees from workplace bullying and abuse. The law defines workplace bullying as repeated, intentional behavior that is intended to harm, intimidate, or interfere with the work performance of an employee.

Under the FHWA, employers are required to create and implement policies that prohibit bullying and provide a process for employees to report incidents of bullying. Employers are also required to provide training to employees on the policies and procedures related to workplace bullying.

The FHWA also provides legal protections for employees who report bullying or who are victims of bullying. These protections include the right to sue an employer or co-worker for damages and the right to file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Overall, the Florida Healthy Workplace Act is designed to create a safer and more positive work environment for employees by addressing and preventing workplace bullying. This state law prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who report or threaten to report an employer’s violation of any law or regulation.