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How Small Businesses Commonly Get Into Trouble with the Fair Labor Standards Act

How Small Businesses Commonly Get Into Trouble with the Fair Labor Standards Act

Hunter was recently published in the Florida Bar Journal for his column on Labor And Employment Law, “Mistakes Were Made: How Small Businesses Commonly Get Into Trouble with the Fair Labor Standards Act” read the article here


Florida Supreme Court Change Has Huge Implications for Criminal Defendants.

Florida Supreme Court

Hunter Chamberlin was on the committee that proposed the change reflected in the supreme court opinion, and it has huge implications for criminal defendants. The Court issued its opinion in SC17-2004 that amends Rule 3.220 and addresses the issues raised in the Kidder case. The Court adopted the proposal. View the supreme court change here: Supreme Court Opinion


Myth Buster! What To Do If You Receive A Traffic Ticket (In Florida)

Just because you have been driving for years or you just got out of a driving school doesn’t mean that you understand all the traffic rules. There are several misconceptions about traffic rules, and you need to know them to avoid getting yourself in any trouble with the law. They include:

If an officer doesn’t show up in court, you don’t get an automatic pass

This is probably the biggest misconception people have. Even though this is possible, the judge may decide to reschedule the hearing. The officers also work closely with court clerks and can schedule a citation – as many as necessary to avoid no-shows.  Relying on this as your main defense mechanism, could be your biggest mistake.

All mistakes are equal

When you are issued with a ticket, make sure that all the information given is correct. If you are unsure of the weight of the mistake, contact an attorney immediately. An officer may mistake the offense committed, and this can cost you in court. Additionally, some mistakes carry heavier fines and punishments than others.

Tickets don’t follow you across state lines

The digital era has enabled states to share information. Therefore, you can’t avoid a ticket by going to another state. The Driver’s License Compact guarantees info-sharing between states, and therefore, offenses committed in other states can be forwarded to your home state and become part of your driving record.

Giving excuses can help you win a case

You’ve heard the popular line ‘whatever you say can and will be used you against you in a court of law.’ So, don’t bother giving explanations as to why you committed a traffic offense to an officer. This might harm you more than it can save you.

Signing/not signing a ticket is proof of guilt

Signing a ticket doesn’t mean that you have admitted to having committed an offense; it just shows that you have received the ticket. In fact, refusing to sign the ticket may land you in further trouble.

Radar inaccuracy automatically dismisses your case

Radar guns, just like any other machine, can malfunction. In such cases, it’s not automatic that your case will be dismissed. You will have to prove that scenario before a judge. Finding such solid evidence can prove impossible, costly, and time-consuming.

Driving with the flow of traffic is a valid excuse for over-speeding

When you are forced to speed by the drivers around you, you can still get a ticket. When you are caught, you are punished alone regardless of how many other drivers made the same offense and got away with it.

Mistakes in a ticket can help you win a case

Human beings are prone to errors. So, if an officer makes a mistake on your ticket, including misspellings, wrong numbers, and any other minor clerical errors, it won’t give you a pass in court. Even if these mistakes are large enough to win your case, it’s still in your best interest to appear in court and present your case.

Rules and regulations keep changing. So, fact or myth, you need the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney to help you avoid those traffic punishments that may affect you in future. Contact Chamberlin Law Firm for your free case consultation.


Understanding the Legal Benefits and Disadvantages to Working as an Employee or Independent Contractor.

The new economy has ushered in a variety of opportunities for talented freelancers who know how to market their skills to businesses.  It’s not a hard sell for many either as companies strive to remain competitive by cutting costs while still delivering on quality.  

Having the flexibility to bring on additional workers only during surge production periods helps companies save money and stay responsive to an ever-changing market.  While the benefits of outsourcing are abundant, many businesses will always prefer to hire conventional employees for certain positions.  Here is a brief synopsis of the benefits and disadvantages of both conventional employment and freelance work as they relate to employment law.  

Standard Employees

Advantages

The availability of corporate benefits is a key reason why you may choose conventional employment over freelancing.  You can expect companies to pay for all or part of your healthcare, workers’ compensation, social security and unemployment insurance.  Laws regulating these benefits offer some flexibility to small businesses that have less than 50 employees.

As an employee, you also have full rights under federal labor laws.  While companies can and do fire employees, they cannot legally terminate employment for a reason that is protected under the nation’s labor laws. If you believe that you’re facing a wrongful termination situation, give us a call, and we will review your case.  As a reminder, you cannot legally be fired for the following:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Age
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Veteran status
  • Citizenship
  • Genetic information

Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of being an employee rather than an independent contractor relate to company culture and management styles.  Employees are expected to be contributing members of teams that build brands through the development of distinct corporate cultures.  Depending on your manager’s leadership style, this often means following strict directions for how and where your work is accomplished.

 

Independent Contractors

Advantages

As a freelancer, you are almost expected to charge higher hourly rates than the ones that are used to calculate the salaries of conventional employees.  The extra money is to compensate you for using your own desk space, supplies and equipment to accomplish work.  You will also experience more autonomy when it comes to performing project tasks.  Working from satellite offices and other remote locations is common.

Disadvantages

Besides receiving no employment benefits, freelancers are not covered under labor laws. You won’t receive an employee handbook, but you’ll perform work according to an employment contract.  As an independent contractor, you’re usually accountable to clients for what you deliver per the contract and not necessarily how your work is accomplished.  This can be a source of contention for some company managers who want to direct your work or get you to do tasks that are not in your contract.  If you are accused of violating the terms of a freelance employment contract, contact us.  We can review your contract and advise you about the steps that you need to take to resolve the issue.

Final Thoughts

Choosing to work as an employee or a freelancer is a personal decision that takes into consideration your unique professional aspirations and work style.  Let us be your go-to resource for employment law questions about conventional employment and independent contracting gigs.  Contact Chamberlin Law Firm today.


Employment Law: Labor Regulations in the U.S. and Florida

Employment law and labor regulations mainly cover the rights and the obligations between an employer and an employee. Employment relationships can be complicated. That’s why employment laws have been put in place to protect an employee against discrimination, workplace safety, and wrongful termination, just to mention a few. Whether you are a current employee, former employee, or in the process of job search, it’s important to know the employment laws in your state to protect your rights. In Florida, some of these laws include:

Wage & Hour Laws

This includes the minimum wage, overtime wage, and hour protections that an employer is required to give an employee. All employers must comply with the federal minimum wage pay which is currently at $7.25 an hour, but in Florida, it’s currently at $8.25 an hour. Employers in Florida must also follow the overtime pay regulations as stipulated by the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act).

Workplace Safety Laws

Employers are expected to provide a safe and healthy workplace that is free from any dangers. They should also perform safety training that is necessary for the industry to the employees. Most of these safety and health standards are regulated by Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). To make sure all safety rules are followed, an OSH administrator can make inspectional visits to workplaces at any time. If an employee notices any safety issues that have not been addressed by the employer, he/she should contact an OSH administrator. Such an employee is protected by law against employer’s retaliatory actions. Employers must also have insurance for their employees to provide protection in case of workplace injuries.

Discrimination Laws

Discrimination at the workplace occurs when one receives unfair treatment due to their race, age, religion, sex, nationality, and disabilities. Discrimination is illegal, whether it’s during job listing, interview, hiring, promotions or even termination. Harassment is also prohibited at the workplace. This includes any unwelcomed actions such as sexual harassments that can create a hostile working environment for an employee.

Leaving Your Job/Termination Laws

Employees have the right to work at will. This means you can quit anytime you feel like. Employers are also allowed to fire an employee at any time as long as it’s not illegal – not discriminatory or retaliatory. Should you be fired for reasons that don’t amount to serious misconduct, you are eligible for the unemployment benefits.

Time off Work Laws

Most of the employers offer paid leaves to their employees. This can be in the form of vacation time, sick days, holidays, and time off. The state also requires employers to offer medical leave, domestic violence leave, military leave, and jury duty.

Child Labor Laws

These laws regulate youth employment. They dictate minimum working age, the working time, and the type of job.

Other employment laws include compensation laws, hiring laws, work break laws, and many more. Should you feel that your employer is violating any of your workplace rights, get in touch with a local experienced attorney. Contact Chamberlin Law Firm in Tampa, Florida and get a free consultation on employment laws, civil laws, and criminal laws.


In The Courtroom – The Difference Between Legal and Factual Guilt

In law, you are either deemed as being factually guilty, or legally guilty depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and subsequent prosecution in court. One is found to be legally guilty if there exist concrete facts that may incriminate you, say some exhibit or forensics. On the other hand, one may be deemed as being factually guilty if he committed the crime.
Essentially, factual guilt refers to what the defendant did while legal guilt is what the prosecutor can prove. For example, someone can be factually guilty, but if there is no sufficient evidence, the person cannot be legally guilty.

How We Can Help

  • Examining the evidence against you: For one to be deemed legally guilty, there must be evidence directly linking you to the felony. When approached by such a case, we carefully examine the evidence linking you with the alleged offense. We aim at ensuring that you are not wrongly sentenced for a felony you did not commit.
  • Sound legal advice: Everyday, we advise our clients on the status of their cases based on the facts. If you decide to proceed with your case, we will assign you our competent attorney to represent you.
  • Legal representation: When we take up your case, you can be assured of our absolute commitment to litigate for you. We believe that you are innocent until proven guilty. We also believe that for one to be guilty, there must be direct evidence linking them to a felony.
  • Appeals and compensation: If you feel that you have been sentenced wrongly or the court hasn’t paid attention to some facts, we are ready to go the full length and file an appeal for you. If proven innocent and compensation are due, we shall do our best to ensure you are compensated.

Attorney Services In Tampa, Florida
Located in Tampa, Florida the Chamberlain Law Firm provides quality legal services centered on the client. Led by Hunter H. Chamberlin, we ensure that you are well represented in court and compensated where due. We broadly focus on all matters litigation and further specialize in criminal defense law that includes but is however not limited to the following:

  •  Civil litigation
  • Robbery
  • Expunging records
  • Drug Offenses
  •  DUI’S
  •  Firearm charges

At Chamberlin Law Firm, we are the industry leader in criminal defense. We work with a team of experienced attorneys who can represent efficiently in court. We work with the presumption of you are innocent until proven guilty. Based on this we build a formidable defense for you. Wondering if you are legally guilty? Contact Hunter at 813-444-477 for a free consultation.


Employment Law – Hiring, Firing and Everything In-between

Civil litigation comes in many forms. Torts, contracts, employment — these are potential areas of dispute. Knowing your rights and having a basic understanding of the law may protect you if you find yourself in a civil dispute. The same goes for criminal law. This article focuses on employment laws in Florida.

Hiring Laws

All states must comply with federal hiring laws. This includes companies not discriminating during the hiring process. Florida goes a step further. In our state, all companies are required to report new hires within 20 days. This rule is part a newer statute which was passed in 2017. It also created a statewide directory of new hires. This statute allows the state government to review company activities closer.

There are also laws pertaining to the interview process before being hired. In Florida, companies are not allowed to ask questions about marital status, pregnancy, and country of origin, among other characteristics. If there is a job-related reason, the question may be allowed.

Firing Laws

Florida is an “at-will” state. That means you, or your employer, can terminate your employment for any reason at any time. However, a company may not fire you for a protected reason. Protected reasons work hand-in-hand with the interview questions. For example, a company cannot fire a woman who gets pregnant. Let’s look at another example.

Let’s say that an employee, John Doe, has been working with Company ABC for a few years. One day, his supervisor finds out Mr. Doe is from Norway. Company ABC fires Mr. Doe because they don’t like Norway. This firing would be illegal.

Wage Laws

Like all states, Florida must comply with the federal minimum wage which is currently $7.25/hour. Florida, however, pays better at $8.25/hour. It’s illegal for companies to pay less than this either officially or “under the table”.

Our state does not have laws regarding overtime pay. However, Florida must still comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA advises that any nonexempt employee must be paid 1.5 times their salary for any overtime. It’s important to know if you are an exempt or nonexempt employee.

You may file a claim against your employer if you are a nonexempt employee and your company is not paying you extra for overtime. Before you take any action be sure to contact Chamberlin Law Firm for a free consultation.

Work Break Laws

Florida law states that, if an employee is under 18 years old, the company must give the employee a 30-minute break for every 4 hours worked. Florida law does not guarantee breaks for employees 18 years of age or older. However, meal breaks which last 30 minutes or longer do not need to be compensated.

Contact

Before taking any action it’s important to speak with a trained attorney. Any legal move you make can affect the final outcome of a case. You may contact Chamberlin Law Firm for a free consultation regarding employment laws, other civil laws, and criminal laws.


Under Age Drunk Driving? – What Should You Do Next?

Drinking under the influence commonly referred to as DUI, is not only an offense for adults but minors as well. When you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug substances, you risk paying fines and serving a jail term. Underage driving under the influence is taken seriously in the United States, and minors who are caught driving under the influence of drug substances or alcohol can land in severe legal trouble.

If a police officer suspects that a teen is driving under influence of alcohol, he/she will subject the minor to the typical Blood Alcohol Content breath test. If alcohol is detected in the teen’s breath, then he/she will be taken into custody, and their vehicle towed. According to statistics, at least one in every ten high school teens drinks and drives.

Zero Tolerance Laws

You are drunk, driving and underage. This means that you’ve committed two illegalities at the same time. First, the law prohibits underage minors from purchasing or being in possession of alcohol in all states in the U.S. All states have zero tolerance for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug substances.

Although adult drivers will only be found culpable if their blood to alcohol content exceeds 0.08%, the law is a bit strict when it comes to minors below the age of 21. An underage driver even with an insignificant amount of alcohol in their blood system ranging between 0.01 and 0.02 will be apprehended. Think about this, even a half glass of wine taken during dinner time can easily subject a minor to DUI charge.

What are the Penalties for Underage DUI?

The DUI citation in all states may result in revocation of your driver’s license, fines, mandatory alcohol education, and a lengthy probation period. In some rare cases, an underage driver can even be handed a jail term on their first drunk driving offense if the case is serious.

You should also keep in mind that if you get a DUI and you’re under 21, but over 18, the magistrate may treat you as an adult. The legal penalties for underage Dui include the following:

  • A fine of up to $500
  • A minimum of 30 and a maximum of 180 days driver license suspension
  • Mandatory alcohol education classes
  • Six months of probation
  • A minimum of 8 and a maximum of 40 hours of community service

As a parent, you’re expected to be a good example to your child. Don’t drink and drive and always remind your teenager to avoid alcohol until they become adults. Parents should also remember that providing alcohol to an underage is an offense and can lead to a fine of up to $4,000 and a one-year jail term.

Have You Been Charged with an Underage DUI?

Chamberlin Law Firm is experienced in dealing with DUI charges, and we will help you advocate for a favorable judgment while protecting your best interests. Contact us today for assistance.


How to Expunge Your Criminal Records in Florida

Learn more with “Chamberlin Chats” on YouTube.

The Sunshine State may not be so sunny when you have a past criminal record on your shoulders. Furthermore, Florida’s law enforcement agencies and courts make it simple for anyone to access your criminal records. If you ask anyone who has been arrested in Florida, they’ll tell you how difficult it can be to achieve important things in life like get a job, travel, or find a decent home. In Florida, you can only expunge your criminal records if you have no past convictions, regardless of when or where the conviction occurred.

If you qualify to get your criminal records expunged, you have the opportunity for a fresh start in life. A new beginning can be a great investment of your time and money.

The Benefits of Expunging Your Criminal Records

The primary benefit of expunging your criminal records is that, under Florida law, you can legally fail to acknowledge the arrests and convictions under the expunged record.

Other benefits of expunging your criminal records include:

  • If you hold a professional certificate or license, the expungement will help you retain those certificates and licenses.
  • An expungement can potentially impact positively on your credit rating.
  • An expungement enables you to legally state on your job application that you’ve never been convicted of a criminal offense.

The Process of Record Expungement in Florida

Record expungement can be a complicated process. Any small mistakes on the petition could force you to begin the process all over again. That’s why it’s wise to involve an experienced expungement attorney in Florida to represent you and ensure that everything is done correctly from the beginning. Again, ensure that the attorney provides an option to clear your records beyond the courtroom. Most often, criminal records are kept by many online background check companies who must be notified that your records have been expunged by the courts; otherwise, they’ll keep your records in their systems for years.

Certificate of Eligibility

The first step towards expunging your criminal records is to verify your eligibility by obtaining a certificate of eligibility. You’re required to complete section A of the application and sign it before a notary public. An authorized law enforcement officer will take your fingerprints and submit a properly completed fingerprints form together with the application. A certified disposition of the case that you want to expunge must also be obtained from the clerk of the court where the charges were brought. In some cases, you may be required to provide a copy of Termination of Probation with a nonrefundable method of payment.

The next step is to have a state attorney or prosecutor complete section B of your application. If your application has any missing portions, it will be returned or unprocessed. You will also need to complete a declaration indicating how the conviction has hurt your career and job opportunities, your future plans, training and education, social and religious affiliations, and how your life has completely turned around.

What Happens when Your Application for a Certificate of Eligibility is Denied

If you have reasons to believe that your certificate of eligibility was a mistake, you can request a review. Sometimes the denial may be based on inaccurate or incomplete criminal history information, so you must follow the review process and have those records corrected as detailed under the Florida laws. However, if you have reasons to believe that your criminal records are correct but the law was incorrectly applied to your case, you can appeal the decision through an expungement attorney.

Final Verdict

Expunging a criminal record is a complex process that requires the assistance of a reputable Florida criminal defense attorney. Any slight mistakes on your application could result in denial or unnecessary delays in your case. The Chamberlin Law Firm provides quality, client-centered legal services in Florida. If you’re accused and charged with any criminal offense ranging from traffic crimes and misdemeanor to serious felony offenses, contact us today for professional legal representation or criminal record expungement.


Can You Be Punished for Suspicion of Drunk Driving?

Driving your car under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is considered a criminal offense in the United States. In Florida, DUI is considered a severe crime that can attract heavy fines. What happens if you are pulled over for a DUI test, and you refuse to take the blood, urine, or breathalyzer test as requested by the officer on duty? Are you guilty? Will you have committed an offense by refusing to cooperate with the officer?

The Federal law in the US states that a citizen is always presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. Therefore, no citizen can be charged merely upon an officer’s suspicion that he or she has committed a criminal offense.

Application of Implied Consent

If a traffic officer suspects that you are driving your car under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the law requires you to take a chemical test by either breathe, blood, or urine to establish your actual blood alcohol content (BAC).

The implied consent laws dictate that you agree to take the necessary chemical tests required to assess your blood alcohol content as long as you are on the road driving. According to Florida DUI regulations, you are committing a criminal offense if you are driving a car with a BAC level of 0.08 percent or more.

The Blood-Alcohol Content Test in Florida

In Florida, the officer is required to establish your BAC level by breathalyzer. The officer will administer the test and show the test results. A breathalyzer refers to a unique device specifically designed to measure your blood-alcohol concentration level using your breath.

There is a permitted legal limit, and if your concentration goes beyond the set limit, then the police officer is required to arrest you. For a first-time offender, a DUI will cost you at least $1,000, at least 50 hours of community service and at least a month in jail based your BAC concentration level. You may pay higher penalties in Florida if your BAC level is beyond 0.15.

What Happens if You Refuse to Take the DUI Test?

The state law in Florida considers driving as a privilege and not your democratic right. The moment you sign your driving license, you agree to implied consent as discussed above. Therefore, it becomes mandatory for you to undertake the various chemical tests to find out whether you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol while driving.

It is your right to decline a simple breathalyzer test, but the penalties may be much more massive and possibly worse than if you were found guilty. Such an action could lead to instant revocation of your driving license and may still be admitted in court.

Are You Facing a DUI Charge?

Don’t worry if you are facing DUI charges since Chamberlin Law Firm is here to help you. Contact us today at (813) 444-4777, and we will gladly take over your case. Hunter Chamberlin is experienced in identifying potential issues in DUI cases to provide the best possible defense that will most likely lead to a favorable outcome.


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