Unpaid Wages Dispute Law in Florida For Employers
Serving You and The State of Florida
Florida business owners have to know a lot of information about how they are required to pay employees. Things can be really complex when it comes to payroll if you have employees that work on a variety of shifts and in a variety of different kinds of work contracts. If you do not have the right HR team with the right experience working on your payroll activities, it can be easy to make mistakes.
When Florida businesses are sued by employees for unpaid wages, it is important to secure the help of an experienced legal team right away. These kinds of cases require that a lot of research be done and there are instances where it is possible that the employee is not correct about the amount of money that they are due if they are owed any. Working with a skilled legal team like the employment lawyers at The Lopez Law Group can make all the difference when it comes to securing a favorable outcome for unpaid wage disputes in Florida.
Florida Labor Laws Do Not Specify Payment Timelines
One of the things that employees in Florida do not realize is that there are no labor laws in the state of Florida that require that employers pay their staff within a specific timeframe. The law only states that employees will be paid within, “a reasonable amount of time”. Some counties call for payment to be made within 14 days of the time that the work was performed, but not all counties in Florida have these guidelines.
This can lead to confusion between employers and employees, but it can also make the process of rectifying a payment error something that is not a legal matter. In many cases, when employees seek to have their concerns about unpaid wages addressed through legal channels, there is no case and the legal matter can be dismissed.
This is one of the reasons that having an experienced lawyer working on unpaid wage cases can be so important. There are many disparities between Florida labor laws and federal law, and in some cases, federal law does not outweigh Florida state law when it comes to matters of wage payment timelines and proper wage payment schedules.
The Department of Labor states that employees can seek redress for their unpaid ages after two weeks have elapsed from their regular payday. This also means that they can seek redress for unpaid overtime or other kinds of compensation along with their hourly wage. In some cases, federal law will need to be followed, but your lawyer will be able to advise you about the best course of action to take with regard to these kinds of cases.
What Actions Can Employees Take Against Employers When They Were Not Paid Wages?
Employees in the state of Florida do not have a county or state-level entity to go to in order to seek redress. They instead need to file reports or cases with the Department of Labor directly. This means that federal law will often be used as the basis for the case from the start. Employees are allowed to do the following when they feel that they have not been paid:
- File a lawsuit for unpaid wages that they wish to collect. The amount of the wages will dictate if this case is heard in small claims court or regular court. Small claims cases are for $8,000 or less. Employees have two years to file this kind of claim in the state of Florida. No matter which court ends up hearing the case, the team at Lopez Law Group will represent your business and argue for a favorable outcome on your behalf.
- File a lawsuit for minimum wage or overtime violations. Minimum wage law can be just as complicated as laws that govern contract staff, commission-based pay, and other kinds of niche worker status. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), or the Florida Minimum Wage Act, employees can contact the DOL and file a claim for wages that they feel they are due. They have two years to file a regular claim, three years to file a willful violation per federal law, and four years for a regular violation or five years for willful violations under Florida Law.
- File a lawsuit for civil theft. These cases are brought to bear when the employee feels that an employer has taken punitive, personal, or offensive action against an employee through their decision not to pay owed wages. These cases can be very difficult to prove, and most of them do not meet the burden of proof to be heard before a judge. Lopez Law will help you to work to get this kind of case dismissed if there is no burden of proof that justifies it being heard.
What Are Unpaid Wages?
When you are considering whether or not you are dealing with an unpaid wages case, you might not even be sure what is considered to be unpaid wages in the state of Florida. There are minimum wage laws and general labor laws that are used to define which kind of labor issue is at stake in cases where employees have sued an employer. Employees who work for tips are not considered to be protected by the general minimum wage laws and can be paid less than the state minimum wage.
Unpaid wages are typically related to unpaid overtime. Employees that work more than forty hours a week must be paid overtime, but there are exemptions to this rule. Many employees that feel they are due overtime pay do not actually qualify for this kind of pay per Florida and federal law. In these kinds of cases, your lawyer from Lopez Law will make sure that the staff member who has sued you is even eligible for this benefit.
The other kind of unpaid wages that are commonly involved with unpaid wages cases are related to paid breaks and time off. Breaks, PTO, and other kinds of time not at work are covered by labor laws and Florida businesses need to be careful to ensure that their staff members are taking the breaks that are required by law. These breaks are technically paid in most cases, but there are employees that are exempt from these protections. Businesses can end up on the wrong side of a lawsuit related to OSHA violations and pay violations due to paid breaks. The team at Lopez Law can help you to verify that your paid breaks policy is in keeping with Florida law and can also defend your case if you have been accused of incorrectly paying staff when they are on break.
Unpaid wages are a common bone of contention in many industries, and employees can sometimes attempt to skip the step of reaching out to payroll and looking for an internal solution to their problem. Lopez Law is aware that employees will try to “cut the line” in some cases and head right to taking legal action for missed payments or incorrect pay stubs. This is just one of many reasons that the Lopez Law Group is so careful to fully investigate the case of each unpaid wage that they take on. The details of the case can often reveal that there was no issue with the way that an employee is paid and the business will not be required to submit to a legal case where no problems exist.
Do Employees Need to Provide Written Notice to Employers of Non-Payment
Per Florida law, employees need to provide written notice to their employer that they are going to file a claim if they do not receive the amount of unpaid wages that they are due. This is often one of the places where cases go off the rails and it can lead to the case being dismissed. When an employee does not take the time to notify their employer that they are seeking redress for non-payment of wages, there is much less legal precedent for a case to collect this payment that is due to the employee.
The settlement process can sometimes be utilized in these cases, removing the issue from the hands of jobs and placing it in the hands of the lawyers working on both sides of the case. The fairest way to address non-payment of wages in these situations is to make sure that the employee receives any money they are owed without getting further awards related to the case. Overtime pay can be a much different animal, and some of these cases fail to be resolved in settlement hearings.
The team at Lopez Law Group will be happy to protect your business from loss of reputation and payment of money that is not owed to employees who are suing for wage-related issues. We have the experience to research these cases and figure out what is actually owed to the employee in question. Determining what the letter of the law says can make all the difference when it comes to securing a settlement and avoiding needing to take the case before a judge.
When the employee in question has not taken the proper notification steps or is claiming that actions were taken against them that were not involved in the case, a skilled lawyer will be needed to handle the investigation process related to the claim. The burden of proof that needs to be met for these cases can be quite significant, depending upon the kind of accusation that is leveled against your company. Blindly accepting an employee’s word that they have been treated unfairly is never a good idea, and the team at Lopez Law Group will make sure that you do not submit to paying damages and wages to an employee that does not actually have a case.
Pre-Emptive Support for Florida Businesses
In many cases, unpaid wages are owed to employees due to issues that could have been avoided. HR staff might not have the necessary training to handle more complex worker statuses and it is possible that your HR department also has not been tracking employee hours and other considerations correctly. The team at Lopez Law Group can go over your wage payment policies and can also look at how you are paying different kinds of workers who are in your employment.
Avoiding issues is usually much easier than having to respond to errors that may or may not have been made by those doing payroll for your business. We can ensure that all of your payment processes are being handled correctly and that they meet the legal standards set by the federal government and Florida Law. This is one of the many services that we can offer to business owners in the state of Florida who are eager to be sure that they can avoid unpaid wage law cases.
Working With a Skilled Legal Team is Key
When you have been sued for unpaid wages, you need to be sure that you are working with a skilled legal team who is familiar with this kind of law. Having the right legal advice and representation can make all the difference when it comes to securing a favorable outcome for your unpaid wage cases. While it is possible that your business could have paid a team member incorrectly, many of these cases do not meet the burden of proof necessary to be heard or to go through the settlement process.
Due to the complexities of Florida law and federal law with regard to unpaid wage claims, you should not attempt to navigate this kind of legal process on your own. Having the right experienced legal team working on your side can be invaluable when it comes to lawsuits related to incorrect pay or unpaid wages that an employee is seeking to recover. Let the team at Lopez Law Group take care of all of your unpaid wage cases. Contact us today, and we will schedule a consultation so that we can seek a favorable outcome for your case.
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What Our Clients Say
Mr. Lopez was a Godsend and really helped me with my situation. Him and the entire firm were very diligent and helped speed the early stages of the process along due to a pressing situation. Throughout my experience working with the firm, they were always responsive and available any time I had a question or wanted to check on the state of affairs. Hopefully I won’t have to recommend Lopez Law Group to my friends or family, but if those unfortunate circumstances arise then there’s only one name I would trust. Thank you again for all your help!
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