Posts Tagged ‘Florida Third District Court of Appeal’

In Florida and most other states, where an employee quits his/her job, they are typically not entitled to recover unemployment benefits. The exception to this rule is where an employee quits based upon good cause attributable to the employer.

Believe it or not, in a case in Miami, a female employee quit her employment based upon the sexual harassment of her employer, and sought unemployment thereafter. Florida unemployment refused her unemployment benefits questioning whether or not she was sexually harassed because she did not go to the police or seek counseling. The employee claimed that she tolerated the actions of her employer for a while because she needed her job, but could not tolerate it any longer and quit.

The Third District Court of Appeal in Miami, thankfully, ruled that this employee was entitled to her unemployment benefits. The Court ruled, “Additionally, sexual harassment can continue for several years before the victim makes public her complaint . . . . Considering a job is usually a person’s economic lifeline, the claimant’s failure to contact outside authorities regarding her complaint cannot be called unreasonable or inherently improbable.”

The case is 940 Lincoln Road Enterprises v. Margarita Hernandez.

If you are refused unemployment benefits by your employer or the unemployment office, seek the advice of an employment lawyer. There are many deadlines to be observed to protect your legal rights so don’t let them slip by. Feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm with questions on your unemployment benefits.

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Under Florida law, the general rule is that an employee who quits their job is not entitled to receive unemployment benefits. However, there is an exception to this general rule where the employee left with good cause attributable to the employer.

Dennis Martinez was a full time car salesman for Ford Midway Mall. Martinez was originally hired on a commission basis, but some time into his employment, his position was changed to where he received a draw against his commissions. When business declined and he was earning no commissions, based upon the employer draw, he would owe the employer money each week. As of the date of his resignation, Martinez owed over $2,000 to his employer due to these draws. Martinez expressed his dissatisfaction with this arrangement to his employer and resigned.

The unemployment referee determined that Martinez voluntarily quit without good cause of the employer. He further decided that because Martinez agreed originally to this draw policy, that he could not contest it a year later.

The Third District Court of Appeal reversed the determination of unemployment. The Court held that the unemployment laws “provides that an individual is not disqualified for unemployment benefits where the individual has “voluntarily left work with good cause attributable” to the employer. § 443.101(1)(a), Fla. Stat. (2009). “Good cause” includes cause attributable to the employer, which “as contemplated by the unemployment compensation law, describes that which would drive an average, able-bodied worker to quit his or her job.”

The Court held that the auto dealer was in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) and the Florida Minimum Wage Act because Martinez was not getting paid the minimum hourly wage for the hours he was working for his employer. The Court held that the draw agreement used by the employer was in violation of the FLSA and Florida Minimum Wage Act. Moreover, the Court held that merely allowing them to pay under the draw policy, for a period of time did not result in a waiver of his legal rights under the FLSA.

The Court held that due to the employer’s violations of the FLSA and Florida Minimum Wage Act, Martinez had left his employment due to good cause attributable to the employer. The Court reversed the decision of unemployment and awarded Martinez his benefits.

The Opinion of the Third District Court of Appeal is here.

If you have questions about your right to receive unemployment benefits, feel free to call Scott Behren and the Behren Law Firm to discuss your legal rights.

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