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Florida Minimum Wage Effective May 2

  • February 21, 2005

The Florida Minimum Wage Amendment mandating a minimum wage of $6.15 per hour goes into effect on May 2, 2005. Under the amendment, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the Florida state agency charged with administering the new amendment, is to perform an annual calculation to establish a new minimum wage each year and to publish that information. AWI will perform this calculation on September 30th, with the new minimum wage becoming effective the following January 1st.

The AWI has announced that the tip credit, which the amendment pegs to the 2003 Fair Labor Standards Act tip credit, will raise the direct wage obligation of employers with eligible employees to $3.13 per hour on May 2, 2005. Based on the AWI's interpretation, that amount, too, will rise with future annual adjustments. Because the wage credit will remain at the current $3.02 as calculated using the 2003 FLSA tip credit amount, future annual adjustments to the Florida minimum wage will require employers to adjust the direct wage obligation to employees eligible for the FLSA tip credit to keep pace with the Florida minimum wage.

Employees who are not paid the minimum wage after May 2, 2005 may bring a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the employer or any person violating Florida's minimum wage law. The state Attorney General or other official designated by the state legislature may also bring a civil action to enforce this amendment. Remedies available are back wages, doubled as liquidated damages and a $1000 per willful violation penalty (payable to the state) as well as attorneys' fees. Specific authority to bring class actions under the Florida class action rule is also provided by the amendment.

As stated in Florida's Constitution, the case law, administrative interpretations, and other standards under the FLSA should be the guide regarding the construction of Florida's constitutional amendment creating the minimum wage. However, the new amendment includes statutes of limitations significantly longer than those under the FLSA. The limitation periods for bringing actions is four (4) years for wage claims; five (5) years for willful violations.

For those Florida employers with employees earning the federal minimum wage of $5.15 now, that rate must be increased to $6.15 effective May 2, 2005. For those employers subject to, but not alert to, this change, the consequences could be significant. This complex amendment governing compensation and overtime in Florida poses costly risks. Employers should promptly consider a review of their current pay practices in Florida.

Jackson Lewis assists employers in all compliance efforts, including developing and auditing wage and compensation policies, classifying exempt, nonexempt and independent contract workers, and determining eligibility for overtime pay. We represent employers in administrative and judicial proceedings, including class action and multiple plaintiff litigation, with respect to entitlement to and calculation of overtime or other premium pay, record keeping obligations, determining when vacation, personal or sick days must be paid, and developing personnel policies to comply with wage-hour and paid time off requirements.

We are available to assist clients in their compliance efforts under the new Florida Minimum Wage Amendment.

©2005 Jackson Lewis P.C. This material is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice nor does it create a client-lawyer relationship between Jackson Lewis and any recipient. Recipients should consult with counsel before taking any actions based on the information contained within this material. This material may be considered attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Reproduction of this material in whole or in part is prohibited without the express prior written consent of Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm that built its reputation on providing workplace law representation to management. Founded in 1958, the firm has grown to more than 900 attorneys in major cities nationwide serving clients across a wide range of practices and industries including government relations, healthcare and sports law. More information about Jackson Lewis can be found at www.jacksonlewis.com.

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