Florida Minimum Wage Increases – January 1, 2015
The new rate of $8.05 per hour represents a 1.5 percent increase over the previous rate of $7.93. Failure to pay tipped employees the new minimum wage of $5.03 beginning January 1, 2015 may expose the employer to federal and state lawsuits. Incidentally, the filing of such lawsuits may lead to further inquiries into a separate unrelated issue of whether the employers in the Hospitality industry are at risk for losing the tip credit because of violating tip pooling rules where tips are required to be shared with other employees who are not usually and customarily tipped. The employer could be at risk going back 2 or 3 years under the federal FLSA in a collective action, or 4 or 5 years under the Florida Minimum Wage Act and the Florida Constitution in a class action, for $3.02 per hour for each hour worked, doubled to include liquidated damages, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.
Why Does the Florida Minimum Wage Keep Changing?
Florida adjusts the state minimum wage annually based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as part of the Florida Minimum Wage Act. Since 2005 when Florida began indexing its minimum wage rate for adjustments due to inflation, the rate has increased an average of fifteen cents per year.
Indexing the State’s minimum wage rate for inflation does not necessarily guarantee a minimum wage increase each year. Florida’s minimum wage remained the same for three years beginning in 2009 when Florida’s rate defaulted to the Federal minimum wage rate of $7.25.
Minimum Wage in Florida and the South
Florida is the only Southern state in the U.S. whose minimum wage is higher than the Federal rate. According to a Pew Research study, 6.3 percent of hourly workers in the South make the federal minimum or less. Overall, workers earning a mandated minimum wage are more likely to live in the South than in other regions.
The Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law Compliance and Defense Practice Group is here to help you develop policies, procedures, and proactive responsive measures to these and other employment related issues. We also provide our clients with our employment law “hotline” which allows our clients, for a flat fee, to ask our employment attorneys general questions to assist in their compliance efforts. Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Schwarzberg & Associates Employment Law Group: Steve Schwarzberg or Lisa Kohring at 561-659-3300 to obtain more information about our firm and its various employment law compliance and defense services.