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Florida Employment Laws Updated: Recent Developments and Implications for Management

Employers in Florida need to stay updated on the latest workplace compliance regulations.  Employment laws are continually updated and the employer must stay current on these regulations.

New Laws Impacting Employee Rights

On September 30, 2024, Florida will increase its minimum wage from $12 an hour to $13 an hour.  It will continue to increase by $1 every year until it reaches $15 per hour in 2026.

Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed HB 49, which allows businesses to work minors at least 16 years old for more than 30 hours a week if the employer gets parental permission.

Senate Bill  262, otherwise known as the Florida Digital Bill of Rights (“FDBR”), was signed into legislation by Governor Ron DeSantis on June 6th and will take effect on July 1, 2024.  FDBR applies to companies generating at least $1 billion USD in gross annual revenue and derive 50% or more of their revenue from the sale of digital advertisements, operate an app store or digital distribution platform that offers 250,000 or more different software applications, or operate a smart-speaker and voice-command service with an integrated virtual assistant connected to a cloud computing service with verbal activation.

The Florida Digital Bill of Rights grants consumers several rights over their personal data held by companies, including access, correction, deletion, and opting out of certain data processing.  Data controllers must respond to consumer requests within 45 days and cannot discriminate against consumers making such requests.  Sensitive data processing requires consumer consent, and data controllers must conduct data protection assessments for certain activities.

Businesses are required to provide clear privacy notices and they are restricted from collecting data when voice-activated devices are not in use without explicit authorization.  Government entities are prohibited from requesting content removal on social media platforms.  The FDBR also includes strict provisions protecting children’s data, prohibiting profiling, and the use of dark patterns.

Last year, Governor DeSantis signed SB 1718, which requires private employers with at least 25 employees to use E-Verify during their onboarding process.  The law applies to new employees hired on or after July 1, 2023.  Any private employer that transacts business in Florida has a license issued by an agency, and employs workers in Florida is required to use the I-9 Form or E-Verify or a substantially equivalent system to verify that new hires or retained contract employees are authorized to work in the United States.  If the employer uses the I-9 system, the employer must retain a copy of the documentation for at least three years after the employee’s initial date of employment. A private employer that does not use the I-9 Form or E-Verify or does not maintain the I-9 Form documentation for three years, will be required by the Department of Economic Opportunity to provide an affidavit stating that the private employer will comply with the law, has terminated the employment of all unauthorized aliens in this state, and will not intentionally or knowingly employ an unauthorized alien in this state.

Expansion of Anti-Discrimination Protections

Florida also prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from implementing discriminatory practices in their diversity training programs.  Specifically, it prohibits public employers and private employers from requiring any individual, as a condition of employment, to participate in training, instruction or any other required activity that promotes or compels the employee to believe any of the following concepts:

A.  Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin are morally superior to members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.

B.  An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.

C.  An individual’s moral character or status as either privileged or oppressed is necessarily determined by his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.

D.  Members of one race, color, sex, or national origin cannot and should not attempt to treat others without respect to race, color, sex, or national origin.

E.  An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears responsibility for, or should be discriminated against, or receive adverse treatment because of actions committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, sex, or national origin.

F.  An individual, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment to achieve diversity, equity, or inclusion.

G.  An individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin.

H.  Such virtues as merit, excellence, hard work, fairness, neutrality, objectivity, and racial colorblindness are racist or sexist or were created by members of a particular race, color, sex, or national origin to oppress members of another race, color, sex, or national origin.

Independent Contractor Classification Under Scrutiny

Employers need to be aware that they must determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor so they can correctly include all employees on their Employer's Quarterly Report.  Misclassification of workers is not just a tax reporting issue; it also affects claims for reemployment assistance benefits.  If an individual files a claim for benefits and the employer has not been including the person on the quarterly report, this can cause a delay in benefit payments.  Please be aware that the intentional misclassification of a worker is a felony.

COVID-19 “Medical Freedom” Laws

Last year, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 252, which prohibits business entities from requiring individuals to provide proof of vaccination or post-infection recovery from any disease to gain access to, entry upon, or service from such entities.  The bill also prohibits employers from refusing employment to or discharging, disciplining, demoting, or otherwise discriminating against an individual solely on the basis of vaccination or immunity status.

Best Practices for Compliance Measures

Staying informed about new employment laws is crucial for ensuring compliance and avoiding legal issues.  Employers should conduct regular training sessions for HR staff, managers, and employees to educate them about new laws, policies, and compliance requirements.  It is also important to review and update company policies and procedures to ensure they align with new laws and regulations.

Perhaps the most important way to stay informed about new employment laws and how they may affect your business is to consult with an employment law attorney.  They can help you interpret the laws and help you understand their implications for your organization as well as provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

I’m Rob Robinson and I can interpret the new employment laws and regulations and how they affect your industry.  For more than 30 years, I have counseled companies on new regulations and policies, keeping them updated and informed on areas that will impact their business.  I can also review your existing policies and employee handbooks to ensure they are compliant and up to date with the newest laws.  Plus, in case of audits, investigations, or legal disputes related to employment law compliance, I will be your legal representative and provide guidance throughout the entire process.

Please contact my office immediately so you can maintain a compliant workplace environment and be updated regularly with any emerging issues or concerns that relate to your business.

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