Archive for January, 2011

Under Florida unemployment law as well as that of most other states, an employee must be actively seeking and ready and wiling to accept employment in order to receive unemployment benefits. In most cases, the State of Florida asks those receiving unemployment benefits to maintain a written log or report of jobs that you have searched for during your unemployment.

However in a recent opinion released from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal yesterday, the court ruled that there is no requirement in the law that such written log be maintained. Olin Carilus was an employee who was terminated from his job with a convenience store. During a hearing to determine whether he was entitled to receive unemployment benefits, the hearing officer asked whether he had maintained a written log of his search for jobs. Carilus said he did not, but did testify about his search for work. Florida Unemployment refused him unemployment benefits based upon has failure to keep such log. He appealed the ruling to the Fourth District Court of Appeal that ruled that there is no requirement for an employee to keep such a written log to get unemployment benefits and that the unemployment office should have considered his testimony of his search for employment instead. The Opinion that came out yesterday is Olin Carilus v. Florida Unemployment Appeals Commission. The link to the case follows: http://www.4dca.org/opinions/Jan%202011/01-26-11/4D10-126.op.pdf.
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More and more these days, employers are proving employees with policies pertaining to use of e-mail, internet and social media at work. Take a look at these documents, read them and make sure you understand them. Especially if you plan to sue your employer at some time in the future. Case in point, Gina Holmes.

Ms Holmes is a woman who sued her employer claiming discrimination. It was ruled recently that she can’t shield her lawyer e-mails in the litigation because they were sent from her work e-mail account, a California appeals court has ruled.

Gina Holmes had claimed the e-mail was protected by the attorney-client privilege.

The Sacramento-based appeals court said the e-mail was not a protected confidential communication because Holmes’ employer, the Petrovich Development Co., had warned that employee e-mails were not confidential and were subject to monitoring.
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Over the years, most employees have always been excited about the prospects of starting a brand new job. That excitement I’m sure is even more magnified today where there are so few jobs to be had by those searching for them. In the flurry of excitement of starting a new job, the employee is usually given a very large pile of papers to sign and in most cases those papers are not explained to the employee so the employee signs them without question. It is this mystery pile of papers that usually contains the documents that come to haunt employees at later times. It is this pile of documents that typically contains the non-compete agreement. It is also this pile of documents that typically contains the dreaded arbitration agreement.

What is arbitration? For those who don’t know its a process where an employee agrees to allow a private person to decide your legal claims against your employer rather than a judge or jury. It is usually a more expedited process without the opportunity to conduct full discovery, as you would in court, and without the opportunity to have your case heard by a jury of your peers. In many cases, the filing fees are higher than to file a court case and in many cases the employee and employer are responsible to pay, on an hourly basis for the services of the arbitrator. These arbitrators can sometimes charge anywhere from $300 to $500 per hour. While in my experience it is a quicker way to resolve disputes, it is usually more favorable to the employer. Thus, the reason why so many employers try to get their employees to sign these agreements.
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While the New Year in many states in the U.S. promoted raises in the minimum wage, that was not the case in the State of Florida. In response, The National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services, representing several individuals and workers’ organizations, filed a lawsuit against Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation on Monday, blasting the department for not raising the state’s minimum wage to reflect inflation.

The plaintiffs represent farm, restaurant, nursery and service employees, day laborers and other low-wage workers.

According to the NELP press release:

Since January 1st, approximately 188,000 minimum wage workers have been denied a six-cent raise to $7.31 an hour, in violation of Florida’s Constitution, which requires Florida’s Agency for Workforce Innovation (AWI) to increase the minimum wage each year for inflation.
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