It is no longer news that many Florida employers browse the social networking profiles of job applicants. Whether this is ethical or not, it is quite a widespread practice. However, there have been several situations reported lately in which employers have stepped far past the ethical questions of this practice and into a legal dilemma.
Small businesses in South Florida may have heard about the recent number of lawsuits related to unpaid internships. In two high-profile cases, unpaid interns have recently sued Fox Searchlight Pictures and Hearst Corporation for allegedly violating wage and labor laws.
The Miami District of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported receiving their highest level of discrimination charges ever in 2011. South Florida workers filed 5,263 charges of discrimination, up from 5,077 in the previous year.
South Florida employees are provided wage and overtime rights are under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. This federal law requires employers to pay overtime, equal to the rate of one and one-half times regular hourly pay, to employees for each hour worked in excess of 40 hours.
Of the record 99,947 complaints the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission received in 2011, nearly 40 percent pertained to retaliation. Discrimination on the basis of race and sex were second and third.
An appeal made by the Applebee's International restaurant chain was recently refused consideration by the U.S. Supreme Court. The appeal follows a lawsuit filed by thousands of bartenders and servers, affecting those in South Florida and nationwide, who claimed underpayment because they were paid reduced wages on the basis that they were receiving tips.
The congressional investigation into allegations that a Broward County U.S. Representative sexually harassed a member of his staff was recently extended.