Whittel & Melton, LLC is a Florida law firm of trial lawyers. Just as we have worked to become experienced and deserving of respect in the legal field, we believe that you also are deserving of respect and adherence to Florida and federal laws by your employer and in your work environment. Call our Tampa employment lawyers today at 866-608-5529 and let us get to work for you!
Whittel & Melton is proud to be a firm of lawyers who collectively have received exceptional legal awards and designations. Our lawyers have been designated as AV-Preeminent by Martindale-Hubbell, selected as Super Lawyers in multiple areas of practice, rated by U.S. News and World Report as one of the "Best Law Firms," selected for inclusion by the National Trial Lawyers Association, picked for Legal Elite in Florida Trend magazine, and bestowed Life memberships in the Multi-Million and Million Dollar Advocates Forums.Employment Law
Our firm handles a wide range of employment law matters. These may include lawsuits arising out of discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, retaliation, minimum wage and overtime violations, family and medical leave, qui tam actions, non-compete agreements, and severance agreements. Sometimes an employee brings an individual claim, and sometimes a group of employees brings a class action. If you are treated in a manner that does not comport with the law, we can help you bring a claim for damages.Employment Discrimination
Federal, state, and local laws prohibit employment discrimination based on your membership in a protected class. Federal laws that provide protection against discrimination include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The state anti-discrimination law is the Florida Civil Rights Act. Our employment attorneys can help Tampa employees and workers elsewhere in Florida enforce their rights under these laws. Adverse employment actions that should not be taken because of your membership in a protected class include failure to hire, disparate pay, disparate benefits, failure to provide a raise, demotion, failure to promote, or termination.Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination. It can involve various forms of unwelcome sexual conduct, such as sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, innuendoes, groping, touching, pranks, gestures, memes, displays of pornography, or lewd remarks. Usually, sexual harassment is considered either hostile work environment harassment or quid pro quo harassment. The former occurs when harassment is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when submitting to sexual advances is a condition of employment.Wrongful Termination
Florida is an at-will state, and therefore an employer can terminate, hire, promote, or discipline you for no reason or for any lawful reason. An employer is not allowed to terminate you because you belong to a protected class or engage in a protected activity. For example, you may have a wrongful termination claim if you were fired because of your age, race, sex, pregnancy, marital status, national origin, color, disability, or religion, if your employer has at least 15 employees. Our Tampa employment attorneys can help you hold your employer accountable for violating the law.Retaliation
You should not be punished for exercising your rights under the law. Retaliation provisions are included in many laws. For example, you should not be punished because you filed a good-faith claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Retaliation could involve termination, or it could involve a refusal to provide a rightfully earned promotion, poor performance reviews, a wage reduction, threatening or singling out an employee, demoting an employee as a punishment for filing a claim, interfering with a claim, withholding benefits, adding duties or taking away tasks, or taking disciplinary actions for no good reason. To establish a claim for damages based on retaliation, you will need to show that you participated in a protected activity, and an adverse employment action or wrongful action was taken against you because you participated in the protected activity.
Wage and hour claims often are based on wage theft and unpaid wages, failure to pay overtime or miscalculation of overtime, misclassification of an employee, or off-the-clock work. Federal, state, and local laws may have different minimum wage requirements. An employment lawyer in Tampa can help you bring a claim under the most advantageous law. Employees should be paid the highest minimum wage applicable. Employees who are not exempt from wage and hour laws may be eligible for overtime pay. Overtime is time and half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.FMLA
The Family and Medical Leave Act is a federal law that gives employees job-protected leave from work for certain medical needs or family reasons. If you work for an employer with at least 50 employees for at least 20 weeks in the current or prior year, and you are eligible, you can get up to 12 weeks of leave. You are eligible for FMLA leave if you have worked for a company for a minimum of a year and for at least 1,250 hours in the last year, and if you work at a location that has at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius. After you come back to work from FMLA leave, your employer is required to reinstate you to your position.Whistleblowers and Qui Tam Claims
Whistleblowers are employees who reveal their employer’s illegal or fraudulent activity. You may have protection from retaliation for reporting your employer’s illegal activity under a range of federal and state laws. The Florida False Claims Act permits a whistleblower to file a qui tam lawsuit if they know that an employer has knowingly presented a false or fraudulent claim for payment to the state, misappropriated state property, or deceptively avoided payment of an obligation to the state. A whistleblower who files a qui tam action under this law can get 15-25% of any recovery in matters that the Florida Attorney General joins. If the Florida Attorney General does not join, the whistleblower can get 25-30% of the recovery.Severance and Termination Agreements
Sometimes, when employees are terminated, employers provide severance or termination agreements. These contracts typically include waivers of claims. This means that you will not be able to sue in the future for discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Sometimes a termination agreement seeks to restrict your right to work for competitors or otherwise limits future opportunities. You should not sign a severance agreement without discussing the matter with a Tampa employment lawyer. Your employer needs to follow special rules for severance agreements if your employer and you are covered by the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.Collective and Class Actions
Collective and class actions may arise if employees have similar claims. Instead of filing individual lawsuits, one lawsuit is filed for all the employees affected by an employer’s wrongful acts. Often, these claims are especially effective if the employees’ individual claims are small, making it inefficient to undertake the expense of litigation, but collectively, the claims are likely to add up to a large settlement or award. Another benefit of class action lawsuits is avoiding inconsistent results in different courts that hear similar claims. Collective or class action lawsuits often arise from minimum wage violations, unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, unequal pay, or discrimination.Consult an Experienced Employment Attorney
If you have faced discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or other illegal treatment in your workplace, you need to choose attorneys whom you can trust. Call us toll-free at (866) 608-5529 or contact us via our online form to discuss your situation with an employment attorney in the Tampa area.