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Learning about employee laws

March 9, 2012
By SYLVIA HELDRETH - Real Estate Law , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Question: I'm on the board of a condo association. We have several employees and I've been asked to investigate what employment laws apply to us. What do we need to know?

Answer: You are wise to investigate the applicability of employment law. Some associations forget they are corporations and that these laws apply to them, even though they are not conducting a for-profit business. What you need to know depends upon how may employees you have.

Federal and state employment statutes kick in when there are sufficient employees, full-time and/or part-time. For example, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, and public employers but the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) applies to private employers with 20 or more.

Other acts that apply to 15 or more employees are Title VII of the Civil Rights Act including the federal "Pregnancy Discrimination Act" and Florida's Civil Rights Act (FCRA) that prohibits workplace discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability, family status, etc.

Some laws apply to associations with just one employee. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Act) regulates workplace safety and the Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes minimum wage and overtime pay requirements, are examples.

Some local ordinances apply to associations that don't have enough employees to be covered under state or federal laws. Lee County's local human rights/employee ordinance kicks in when there are six or more full-time or 11 or more total employees, including part-time employees.

There are additional laws to consider but some would not apply to an association with your number of employees. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), for example, applies to private employers with 50 or more employees.

The number of lawsuits filed against employers for violations of employment related laws is rising every month. It is possible that this increase is the result of challenging economic times when employees are more likely to complain when laid off or terminated. It is also possible that employment related claims have received so much publicity that people who might not have sued in the past are doing so now. As a board member, you have an obligation to protect the assets of the association and abiding by employment laws is important.

Seeking the advice of an attorney who is knowledgeable about community association and employment law is the safest path to take if you are charged with finding out what your board needs to know. You are on the right track.

Attorney Sylvia Heldreth is a certified specialist in real estate law. Her office is located at 1215 Miramar St., in Cape Coral.

This article is not intended as specific legal advice to anyone and is based upon facts that change from time to time. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting upon any matter involving the law.



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