What are the minimum wage and overtime laws in Florida?
Minimum wage and overtime laws in Florida are governed by the federal law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida’s Minimum Wage Act.
Under the FLSA, most employers are required to pay non-exempt employees the prevailing federal minimum wage for hours worked, as well as overtime pay (usually one and a half times the employee’s regular hourly rate) for time worked in excess of 40 hours per week. There are certain employees who are exempt from being paid overtime. Those exemptions are set forth in the FLSA, but include professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants, etc), executives (including supervisors and managers whose duties primarily involve supervising two or more employees and who have authority or input into personnel decisions relating to employees) and administrators (those whose duties require use of independent judgment, as compared to performing work as instructed). There are additional exemptions that may apply to certain jobs and certain industries.
Florida also provides for a minimum wage for employees working in the state. This minimum wage is set by the state and may be higher than the federal minimum wage. Therefore, employers should ensure that they are paying the prevailing state minimum wage. Employees working in Florida who have not been paid minimum wage may have a claim under both the federal and state law.
For employers, it is recommended that either a qualified employment lawyer or the Department of Labor be consulted to ensure that employees have been properly classified as either exempt or non-exempt under the FLSA. It is also recommended that employers provide job descriptions for each position defining the duties of the job, the essential and non-essential functions of the job, and identifying whether the position is exempt or non-exempt. The employee should be provided with a copy of the job description at the time of hiring and sign an acknowledgment that he or she has received the document.
When an employee believes he or she is entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay, the employee may seek the assistance of the Department of Labor (DOL) or an employment attorney. Often times, an employer’s first knowledge of a potential claim for overtime or minimum wages will come through an attorney’s demand letter or a civil complaint served upon the company’s registered agent. Under the FLSA, individuals who are responsible for the payroll practices of the employer may also be found liable for overtime and minimum wage violations, and so those individuals may also receive either an attorney’s demand letter or a civil complaint in which the individuals are named defendants.
If a demand letter is served, the employer would be well-advised to immediately consult with an employment attorney. Moreover, because any defendant, once served with a lawsuit, will have only a short time period within which to formally respond to the complaint, a qualified employment attorney should be retained as soon as possible. Indeed, because, in Florida, corporate entities may not represent themselves in a civil action suit without counsel, the employer will almost always be required to retain an attorney to handle the lawsuit. If an employee succeeds in recovering overtime or minimum wages, the employer may be liable not only for those wages, but for liquidated (double) damages, attorney’s fees and court costs incurred by the employee.
An employee who believes he or she may be entitled to overtime pay should either file a complaint with the DOL or, alternatively, may consult with an attorney. The employee should keep in mind that there are time periods, or statutes of limitations, that apply to overtime and minimum wage claims. Generally, the elimination period is two years from the affected pay period to the filing of the civil complaint, or three years if an intentional violation has occurred. Employees who are successful in recovering minimum wages or overtime may be also entitled to liquidated (or double) damages, as well as attorney’s fees and court costs.
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