When parting ways with an employee or employer takes a turn for the worse, understanding your legal rights is essential. As an employer, you want to develop contracts and working conditions that allow for a favorable employment transition. Understanding the common types of employment disputes will help you establish employment practices that protect you, your business, and your employees.
Severance is any benefit for a former employee after his or her employment has ended. Florida law does not require businesses to pay severance, but agreements between employees and labor unions may specify severance terms. Typically, employees who are fired or terminated are not entitled to severance pay. Severance may include money, the continuation of benefits, or retirement funds. Severance must also include compensation for unused paid time off and earned vacation time. It is vital that severance agreements clearly state compensation and benefits that have been eared ad due.
A non-compete clause within a contract prevents a former employee from competing with or sharing confidential information about their former employer. Common ways a former employee could breach a non-compete agreement include:
● Working for a competitor.
● Soliciting clients, patients, or customers.
● Starting a competing business.
Non-compete contracts are strictly regulated by a complex statute. They should only be drafted by an attorney. Otherwise, a contract written with the best of intentions could be ruled unenforceable due to a failure to conform to the statutory requirements. For a business to file a non-compete lawsuit, the court must prove that specific business interests are at issue, such as sharing trade secrets or confidential information, or the use of specialized training.
As an “at-will” work state, Florida employers may let go of employees for any reason, or without reason, at any time. However, a wrongful termination lawsuit can be filed when an employee is fired unjustly or illegally. An experienced attorney can help determine whether an employee was wrongfully terminated. Examples of illegal termination include:
● Discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, pregnancy, disability, or marital status.
● Breach of employment contract.
● Workplace rights violations, such as worker’s compensation claims or taking FMLA.
Wage and hour disputes
Wage disputes are another common labor dispute between business owners and employees. Employees have the right to be compensated for work performed. The law gives business owners a “reasonable” amount of time to pay employees. Some counties may have local ordinances that define a reasonable timeframe, so check the county ordinances based on your business location. If no local regulation is in effect, the U.S. Department of Labor specifies that employees may file suit after their regular payday passes for the last pay period they worked. Other wage and hour disputes include overtime violations and minimum wage infractions. Both employees and contractors may be entitled to compensation for work performed.
Oviedo business attorney
Thomas R. Peppler, an experienced civil litigation lawyer, represents both employees and employers through labor disputes. If you are a business owner, ensure that your severance agreements and non-compete contracts protect your business when you need to terminate an employee. Call Peppler Law, P.A. at 407-792-2773 to speak with a legal professional and schedule a consultation.