Millions of Floridians go to work each day, striving to make life better for themselves, their families, and their communities. Some of us love our jobs, some accept our work as a necessary fact of life, and some despise every minute of the work week. The lawyers at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group cannot transform a bad job into a good one. But we can help Florida workers protect their rights when an employer cuts corners, harasses, discriminates, or otherwise engages in wrongful actions that transform even the best job into a nightmare. Read on to learn more, and contact us with questions.
About Our Employment Law Practice
Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group are affiliated Florida law firms specializing in representing victims of wrongdoing. Our legal practices focus on seeking compensation for clients who have sustained physical injuries, emotional trauma, and career damage, because of someone else’s careless, reckless, or intentionally harmful conduct. We take particular pride in fighting on behalf of those who go to work in the Sunshine State only to have their rights violated by a coworker, boss, or similar party.
Our firms have compiled an impressive track record of success in all manner of personal injury matters. Over the years, we have collected millions of dollars in compensation on behalf of our clients to help them put their lives back on track.
Florida Employment Law Matters We Handle
No one should have to put up with wrongdoing in the workplace. Workers’ lives are difficult and stressful enough already without having to confront misbehavior by employers, colleagues, and coworkers. Victims of workplace legal violations often struggle to decide what to do about it; they do not want to lose their jobs, but they can only withstand so much harm before it becomes unbearable.
That is where the employment law attorneys at Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman can help. We guide Florida workers through the often difficult and confusing process of coming to terms with, confronting, and rectifying, harm done to them in the workplace. Here are some of the areas in which we help Florida workers seek justice, accountability, and compensation:
Wage and Hour Claims
As of January 1, 2020, the minimum wage in Florida is $8.56 per hour, and $5.54 for tipped employees. The rate is higher than the national minimum of $7.25 per hour, but that comes as cold comfort to the millions of Floridians who cannot afford basic necessities even when they work full-time. The last thing Florida’s minimum wage-level and other hourly workers need is to have their employers stiff them for the long hours they work each week.
The Florida Constitution and state statutes guarantee payment of the minimum wage to all Florida workers. Federal law further guarantees a right to time-and-a-half overtime pay for hourly workers who put in more than 40 hours of work per week.
Employers who violate these legal obligations by failing to pay their workers an agreed-upon wage (which can be no less than minimum wage) based on the number of hours the workers have worked face significant financial consequences. By law, employees can sue their employers to recover unpaid wages, plus an additional amount as “liquidated damages,” plus attorney fees to pay for the employees’ lawyers’ time. The laws also bar employers from retaliating against employees who enforce these rights.
Taking legal action against an employer for unpaid wages, however, requires following specific procedures which, if not complied with, can sink a case. The employment lawyers at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group have years of experience guiding workers through the process of recovering unpaid wages and damages from employers who try to cheat them.
Discrimination (Including Sexual Harassment)
It is illegal under Florida law (as well similar federal laws) for an employer with 15 or more employees, an employment agency, or a labor organization to hire, fire, segregate, or discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.” Separately, it is also illegal under state law for a Florida employer of two or more workers to discriminate on the basis of sex by paying unequal wages for equal work.
When people hear the word “discrimination,” most think in terms of discrimination against people of color; as well they should, because that form of discrimination represents a particularly persistent and ugly form of harm that all-too-many Florida workers endure daily. It is never, ever, acceptable for an employer to make hiring, firing, promotion, or job duty decisions based upon a person’s race.
Racial discrimination, however, is only one of the categories of discrimination that make Florida workplaces a nightmare for many innocent workers. Any “adverse” employment-related action taken against a worker because of the worker’s “race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status” is flat-out illegal.
So, for example, many workers do not realize that sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct in the workplace constitutes a form of discrimination that is just as illegal as any other. Anyone forced to put up with a workplace environment that places expectations or obligations on individual workers because of their sex or gender, including workplaces that have a “locker room mentality,” or that force workers to endure constant sexual advances from others in the workplace, has rights to seek substantial damages under Florida law.
Under Florida law, workers who step forward to report wrongdoing on the part of an employer have legal protections. No private employer may take an adverse employment action (firing, demotion, change of job responsibilities, pay cut, etc.) against an employee who reports, threatens to report, objects to, or refuses to participate in any action by the employer that violates a law, rule, or regulation. A similar law protects “whistleblowers” who report wrongdoing by a public agency or independent contractor that creates “a substantial and specific danger to the public’s health, safety, or welfare” or which discloses “improper use of governmental office, gross waste of funds, or any other abuse or gross neglect of duty on the part of an agency, public officer, or employee.”
It takes enormous courage to step forward as a whistleblower in either a private or public employment setting. No one should face adverse employment action for trying to do the right thing and to call attention to wrongdoing. Anyone harmed by such an action has a right to seek compensation through legal action. The employment law teams at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group are ready to help.
Other Workplace Issues (Health and Safety Violations, Fraud)
Sometimes, workers walk through our doors at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group seeking help with a workplace situation that just feels wrong, even though they cannot put a finger on exactly what is wrong with the scenario they have encountered on the job.
For instance, perhaps they have:
- Been forced to participate in work activities that make them fear for their physical or emotional wellbeing.
- Seen bookkeeping that seems fishy;
- Been instructed to keep secrets from customers in a way that feels dishonest; or
- Heard superiors tell blatant lies to cover up their own wrongdoing.
Our employment lawyers welcome anyone with these sorts of gut feelings about something wrong at work to reach out to us in person, online, or by phone. A meeting with our team is always strictly confidential, and can help a worker figure out what to do about his or her suspicions (even if that means doing nothing at all).
Protecting Your Rights
As employment lawyers, we know all too well how it sounds when we tell someone “don’t worry, the law protects you” when they face a difficult situation at work. It is one thing for employment laws to say workers should not suffer harm in the workplace. It feels like another thing entirely for workers to step up, speak out, and enforce their rights. Many workers worry about losing their jobs or committing “career suicide.”
In addition, Florida’s worker protection laws are not nearly as strong as those that protect employees in many other states. For example:
- Workplace anti-discrimination laws only apply to workplaces with 15 or more employees;
- There is no explicit protection for discrimination based upon sexual orientation or gender identity in Florida (though we would argue that discrimination on those bases is still very much illegal);
- Procedural hurdles are built into some of Florida’s laws that seem more friendly to employers than employees.
At Dolman Law Group and Sibley Dolman, we understand the hesitation many workers have about coming forward with a claim related to wrongdoing at work, particularly in light of some of the limitations of Florida law noted above. We nevertheless encourage workers to take steps to protect their legal rights whenever something bad happens at work. Workers may decide not to pursue legal action, but it is better to have the option than not.
Taking the following steps can help preserve the workplace rights you have as an employee under Florida law:
Document everything securely. One of the most difficult aspects of confronting a potentially illegal situation at work is proving it has happened. Wrongdoing at work happens because someone with more power than the injured worker allows it, one way or another. When it comes to proving a violation of employment laws, that same person in power may have the ability to destroy evidence and cover up misdeeds. That is why workers who experience workplace misconduct must document it in a way that is safe and secure for them. This may include keeping a diary or journal at home that describes what has happened at work, printing off and storing emails or texts in a safe location, or saving other evidence of someone having done something wrong. In documenting wrongdoing, workers must take care not to violate workplace rules or, worse, state or local laws. Consulting a lawyer can help a worker navigate that potential minefield.
Beware of human resources. Many larger workplaces encourage, and potentially require, employees to report misconduct to an H.R. representative. At Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group, we encourage workers to follow the rules in the workplace, but also caution that H.R. departments do not necessarily have any individual worker’s best interests at heart. As often as not, in our experience, H.R. departments act in the interest of the business first, not the individual employee. Which brings us to our final piece of advice:
Consult first, then act. Workplace legal violations present workers with a potentially thorny problem. They want to do the right thing, make the misconduct stop, and protect themselves, all at the same time. Most workers do not know how to pick their way through this thicket on their own without risking injury. That is why we always recommend that as soon as a worker recognizes a workplace violation for what it is, they seek the advice and counsel of an experienced employment law attorney. A lawyer can plan a safe, effective legal strategy that serves all of a worker’s at-times conflicting goals, while avoiding pitfalls that could harm the worker’s rights.
Employment Lawyers for All Florida Workers
Workers harmed by wrongful conduct on the job, whether it relates to wages, discrimination, whistleblowing, or merely something that “just doesn’t feel right,” deserve the best legal advice available. The employment lawyers at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group have the skills, resources, and experience to provide that advice. No matter how big and powerful your employer is, no matter how complicated your work situation feels, our team is ready to help by providing sophisticated, diligent, and empathetic guidance.
Do not wait to schedule a free, strictly confidential, no-obligation consultation with one of our employment lawyers. The sooner you meet with the Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group teams, the better your chances of protecting your rights and obtaining the compensation you deserve. With offices on both Florida coasts, our team is always available. You can contact us online or reach us by phone at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH).