Categories
COVID-19 Employment Law

Employer responsibilities under the Florida Domestic Violence Leave Law

In what the United Nations has described as a “shadow pandemic,” the reported cases of domestic abuse have risen by at least 20% since COVID-19 started and is likely much higher because of unreported cases. As employers welcome staff back to the workplace, they should be aware of potential domestic violence issues and the Florida Domestic Violence Leave Law. This Statute applies to businesses that employ 50 or more employees and to employees who have been employed by the employer for three or more months.

The law protects a worker’s job if the worker needs time off because of domestic violence. Specifically, the law allows an employee up to three working days of leave from work in any 12- month period if the employee or a family or household member of an employee is the victim of domestic violence or sexual violence. An employer retains the ability to decide if the time off is paid or unpaid leave. The requested leave may be used to:

  • Seek a court order against domestic or sexual violence.
  • Obtain medical care or mental health counseling needed because of domestic violence.
  • Obtain services from a victim services organization.
  • Make the employee’s home secure from the perpetrator or to seek new housing to escape the perpetrator.
  • Meet with an attorney or attend court related to domestic or sexual violence.

While an employer must comply with the Domestic Violence Leave Law, the law also affords several significant rights and protections to an employer. First, an employee is required to provide an employer with “appropriate advance notice” of the intention to take leave unless
doing so would result in “imminent danger to the health and safety of the employee.” Second, an employer has the right to request “sufficient documentation of the act of domestic violence or sexual violence” from the employee. Finally, an employee has the right to require an employee to use any available vacation, personal, or sick leave before granting leave under the Domestic Violence Leave Law.

Categories
COVID-19 Employment Law

Employee mental health concerns for businesses reopening from COVID-19

As we all cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of anxiety, sadness, and fear are commonplace.

Pandemic-related factors that may add to a workers’ stress, are sundry, but may include fears regarding health or job security.

A proactive response to employee mental health needs is not only prudent for continued business operations, but may also be necessary to remain compliant with Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, for example, indicate that mental illness can be considered work-related if an employee “voluntarily provides the employer with an opinion from a physician or other licensed health-care professional with appropriate training and experience stating” as such. If an employee’s mental health issues are deemed work-related it can have serious consequences for the employer.

In a recent article published in the Daily Business Review and Law.com, attorney Jeffrey Lieser discussed employer considerations regarding the impact of COVID 19 on employee mental health. In the article, Mr. Lieser reviews OSHA guidelines and ADA requirements that employers may have to address and presents suggestions to employers on employee mental health issues in the COVID-19 workplace.

 

Categories
COVID-19 Employment Law

What if Employees Are Scared to Return to Work During COVID Reopening?

The last thing a business owner needs right now is a labor dispute with an employee.

The current situation makes that a possibility.

Things are starting to return to normal. Businesses are reopening. Millions of companies have received Payroll Protection Program loans and need to use the majority of those funds quickly for payroll in order to obtain loan forgiveness.

But what if an employee does not want to return to work due to fear of contracting the Coronavirus?

In last Friday’s Tampa Bay Business Journal, LSA attorneys, Alissa Kranz and Jeff Lieser analyzed three scenarios that employers may face in the weeks ahead.

In addition to Coronavirus concerns, some employees may be satisfied with their unemployment benefits. However, they may not realize that, generally, refusing to return to work can result in such benefits being cut off.

Employers should consider counseling their employees accordingly and following the guidance in today’s article, including: documenting communications with employees, understanding current leave laws, accommodating employees with disabilities when it would not result in an undue burden on the company, and following federal, state, and local recommendations and guidelines on how to reduce exposure to
COVID-19.

Read the full article on the Tampa Bay Business Journal. (subscription required).

Categories
Employment Law

Fighting a Non-Compete Employment Agreement in Florida

Non-Compete Employment AgreementWhat do you do if you signed a non-compete agreement with your employer in Florida and now want to go to work for a competitor of your employer?  Many people believe that if an employer forces an employee to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of employment, the agreement is unenforceable.  That is not true in Florida because such agreements are presumed by law to be valid.  However, that does not mean you have no ability to defeat the agreement in the event your former employer tries to enforce it.  There are several potential arguments one may be able to make.

Material Breach by Employer

One argument is that the employer somehow materially breached the employment contract.  For example, if the employer did not fulfill its obligations to the employee with regard to such items as compensation, insurance, etc., then the employee could argue that the non-compete provisions should not be enforced.