Labor & Employment Law
The attorneys at Sniffen & Spellman, P.A. have defended labor and employment law claims all over Florida for all types of public and private employers. We provide employers with practical and sound preventative advice. Our attorneys help clients develop policies and practices that reduce the risk of future litigation. We also develop cost-effective legal solutions that meet business objectives and protect the rights and best interests of employers.
The Firm represents all types of private and public employers in cases concerning Title VII (race, sex, religion, color and national origin), ADEA, ADA, FMLA, constitutional violations, sexual harassment, wage and hour violations and whistleblower claims. We serve as panel counsel for a number of providers of Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), Directors and Officers (D&O), and Miscellaneous Professional Liability (MPL) Insurance. Please click the arrows next to the practice area to access more information.
Discrimination, Harassment and Retaliation
We represent employers in claims for alleged violations of various federal and state civil rights statutes, including claims under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act (race, gender, religion, national origin, and color), 42 U.S.C. § 1981 (race), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.
Our lawyers concentrate heavily on these claims and have been retained across Florida to defend employers and high-level executives against single- and multiple-plaintiff sexual and racial harassment claims, retaliation claims, and wrongful discharge allegations under federal and state laws. All of our lawyers are licensed to practice in all three United States District Courts in Florida, in addition to all State courts. We also defend these claims before the Division of Administrative Hearings and arbitrators and arbitration panels across the State.
The increased likelihood of these claims, however, has compelled employers to give greater scrutiny to the manner in which they run their businesses and the policies and procedures under which they operate. As such, in addition to our litigation experience, our lawyers consistently are retained to review and counsel employers on their employment practices, including hiring, discipline and termination policies, and to assess their effectiveness and compliance with federal and state civil rights laws. We have substantial experience in developing and implementing lawful strategies that increase the productivity of an employer’s workforce and simultaneously reduce the likelihood of an employee dispute.
FLSA, Wage and Hour, Overtime
Our firm counsels and defends employers on the requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and related state wage and hour statutes, including alleged violations of overtime, minimum wage, tip credit, prevailing wage rate, and record-keeping requirements. As plaintiffs’ lawyers discover new hyper-technical violations that result in statutorily imposed penalties and attorney’s fees, wage and hour lawsuits are increasing at a rapid rate.
Our attorneys have substantial experience in representing employers at all stages of wage and hour disputes, from an investigation by the United States Department of Labor or a state or local agency through federal lawsuits, including collective actions brought on behalf of a class of individuals. Our lawyers have represented employers in these specialized collective actions, utilizing such skills to seek denial of class certification, reduction in the applicable statute of limitations period, and any entitlement to liquidated damages. Sniffen & Spellman attorneys conduct compliance audits for our clients to assess whether they are properly classifying employees as non-exempt employees and complying with the technical requirements of the FLSA, such as the proper manner to administer a tip pool arrangement. Our audits include review of an employers record keeping practices to ensure compliance with the FLSA. Our attorneys assist employers to develop bonus plans, severance plans, commission plans, and vacation policies to ensure state and federal compliance.
Restrictive Covenants and Trade Secrets
Our lawyers are committed to helping employers protect their legitimate business interests by ensuring the protection against unlawful disclosure and use of an employer’s proprietary information and assets, including client lists and relationships, marketing strategies, financial information, computer programs, and research and development. Successfully protecting this information requires aggressive action. Our attorneys work to implement and apply appropriate policies not only to safeguard employer information, but also to demonstrate its confidential nature.
We have demonstrable experience defending and prosecuting trade secret litigation, as well as other time-sensitive matters involving potential confidential information disclosure, customer and employee raiding, and violations of covenants not to solicit customers or covenants not to compete. We work with clients in preparing effective non-disclosure, non-solicitation, and non-competition agreements. Our attorneys also assist clients in conducting audits of their proprietary information to ascertain the types of information afforded protection under the law and what steps employers need to take to gain that protection. We also work with companies to avoid possible liability that may result when companies hire employees with post-employment restrictions on their activities or employees with knowledge of their competitors’ confidential information and trade secrets.
Our lawyers have substantial experience in drafting employment agreements for key employees, including senior-level managers and high-level executives. These agreements have provisions that specifically deal with, among other issues, compensation, bonuses, benefits, termination, and post-employment restrictive covenants. In doing so, we make sure to understand our client’s interests in entering into the employment relationship and any specific risks we need to protect against in securing contractual obligations from the employee.
Our attorneys routinely advise employers in negotiating an employee’s separation from employment and, where appropriate, draft severance agreements that include full releases of all claims. For employers who are executing a reduction in force, we guide employers through the pitfalls of that process and prepare severance agreements in compliance with the ADEA and the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act.
NLRB, PERC and Collective Bargaining
Our lawyers represent employers in a wide range of labor matters, including those under the jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Public Employment Relations Commission. These matters range from collective bargaining, arbitrations, union organization, labor contract administration, strikes, injunctions, elections, and unfair labor charges arising from mergers and acquisitions, shutdowns, relocations, and other business reorganizations. We also regularly counsel clients and train managers on how to maintain a union-free environment.
Public Employment and First Amendment
Our firm regularly represents and advises public employers throughout the State of Florida. Our lawyers have represented public entities throughout the State which include state agencies, cities, counties, sheriff’s offices, school districts, water authorities, housing authorities, and other local governmental entities for all types of public sector employment claims.
As a part of this representation, we have worked closely with and defended city commissioners, county commissioners, mayors, city and county managers and administrators, sheriffs, police chiefs and officers, and other members of the public sector in suits by employees. Our representation of public entities includes the typical discrimination claim under the federal civil rights statutes, as well as constitutional claims for deprivation of due process, denial of equal protection and free speech, and other constitutional-based claims.
Employment Practices Liability Insurance
Our law firm’s attorneys are at the forefront of employment practices liability insurance and defending insureds of EPLI providers. We currently are approved or conflict counsel for numerous insurance carriers. Our lawyers are fully versed in claims handling and billing procedures. Our lawyers also regularly counsel and assist employers in the selection of EPLI policies and understanding insurance provisions and coverage.