While more than 180 federal labor laws protect the rights of employees, each state has its own set of rules that may be different from federal laws. 

Florida, for example, has several laws that provide greater protection than federal government laws, particularly in areas like anti-discrimination laws based on one’s marital status, minimum wage thresholds, and healthcare coverage.

Here are some of the most important Florida employment laws to be aware of and how they can affect an employee. 

Payment of Wages 

Federal law requires employers to pay a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), and Florida statutes set the minimum at $12.00 for eligible employers. Incremental minimum wage increases are expected to happen in Florida until the hourly rate reaches $15.00 in 2026. 

In addition to minimum wage laws, there are also policies regarding overtime, salaries, equal pay, and severance pay. 

When an employer violates either federal or state law, either intentionally or due to ignorance, they can be held legally accountable. A common violation is an employer who requires workers to continue working through a break without being compensated. 

An employment law attorney can help you understand your rights and an appropriate course of action.   

Anti-Discrimination Policies 

Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees based on several protected characteristics, including: 

  • Age
  • Race
  • Color
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy status, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
  • Disability

At the federal level, anti-discrimination policies are enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Florida also has the Florida Civil Rights Act, which affords the same protections as above, including three additional ones: 

  1. Marital status
  2. HIV / AIDs status
  3. Has the sickle-cell trait 

Leaves of Absence 

Life happens, and sometimes, an employee needs to take a temporary leave from their job. To help ensure that the person’s job will be available when they come back, and no retaliatory measures will be taken, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires eligible employers to allow you to take unpaid leave with continued health insurance coverage. 

Federal law has several rules and limitations for FMLA eligibility and what types of leave are warranted under the Act. These include time periods ranging from 12 to 26 weeks for the following: 

  • Birthing a child or caring for a newborn
  • Caring for an adopted or foster child
  • Caring for a child, spouse, or family member with a serious health condition
  • Recovering from a serious health condition
  • Various circumstances for an employee’s family member in the military 

In addition to these legitimate leaves of absence under the FMLA, Florida law provides additional protection for employees who need to take a leave of absence, including leave for the following: 

  • Domestic violence
  • Jury duty
  • Serving as a witness
  • Military leave
  • Civil Air Patrol leave 

The rules around what qualifies as leave can vary, as can the eligibility requirements. It’s important to note that if an employer is required to follow federal and state leave of absence laws, any violation can be actionable. 

For example, if an employer has refused to authorize leave for which you are eligible or fires you (or retaliates in some other way), you can seek the help of an attorney. 

Contact an Experienced Florida Employment Law Attorney 

Florida employment laws can be complex, and a small, private employer may not be subject to the same laws as a larger organization. For legal guidance and support about federal law and Florida state law, call Mark J. Berkowitz, P.A., at (954) 527-0570, or contact us online.