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August 8, 2018

Whether and to what extent an employee (or prospective employee) may be entitled to a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disability Act (“ADA”) and Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) are daunting questions for employers. The decision-making process is filled with potential landmines that may only be apparent in hindsight – when it is too late for meaningful damage control. For this reason, employers must learn, wherever possible, from the experiences – good or bad – of others.

A new Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals opinion is a cautionary tale for both employers and employees regarding requests for leave under the FMLA and requests for reasonable accommodation under the ADA.  Such requests frequently present employers with challenges that require special consideration in making decisions which will insulate employers from potential liability.  The takeaway from the Eleventh Circuit’s recent opinion is that not every manager is well-equipped to evaluate when a leave or...

June 26, 2018

If you or your company conducts business in whole or in part using a website, there is a federal law you must comply with to avoid potentially costly litigation. In this regard, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which renders decisions that are binding in Florida, Georgia and Alabama) recently decided a case involving the Americans with Disabilities Act, (“ADA”), accessibility requirements for websites. The case is part of an increasing number of ADA lawsuits being initiated against businesses with non-accessible websites.

Dennis Haynes v. Hooters of America, LLC ( was decided on June 19, 2018.  Mr. Haynes, the plaintiff in the trial court, appealed the dismissal of his case based upon a finding that his claims were moot.  Mr. Haynes is blind and, as such, is disabled within the meaning of the ADA. He uses Screen Reader Software, specifically, JAWS Screen Reader Software to navigate and read websites. Hooters operates...

January 19, 2018

Florida's Fifth Circuit Court of Appeal's January 14, 2018 opinion in Velden v. Nationstar Mortgage clarifies how much a Mortgage Lender can collect if it misses the five-year statute of limitations deadline to file suit after the Borrower's breach of the mortgage contract by missing a payment.

A lender typically has five years after a borrower first defaults on a loan to sue for foreclosure. The Velden opinion holds that a lender can foreclose anew with each new missed payment giving the lender the right to accelerate the loan, and demand immediate full repayment or foreclose.  The Borrower's argument to the contrary was that if the Lender does not sue within five-years of the Borrower's first missed payment, the statute of limitations had run and the lender could no longer foreclose.  The Fifth Circuit rejected that argument, instead holding that each missed payment gives the Lender a new opportunity to foreclose.

The Velden opinion does give Borrower...

Only 15% of hiring managers would consider hiring an overweight woman

Being overweight can weigh down your career prospects, too, according to new research

Overweight women suffer major discrimination in the workplace.

Jobs site Fairygodboss recently carried out a survey of 500 hiring professionals, who were shown a picture of an overweight woman and asked if they’d consider employing her. Only 15.6% of them said that they would. Plus, one in five hiring personnel characterized the woman as “lazy,” and slightly more — 21% — called her “unprofessional.”

This is particularly troubling for much of America’s female workforce. Indeed, nearly four in 10 adult women (38.3%) are obese, according to government data — a higher percentage than for men (34.3%). And even more are overweight, meaning that about two out of three women in America are overweight or obese.

“There are several decades of research evidence demonstrating weight bias in the context of employment, and what we see is evid...

November 14, 2017

It is commonly known that trial courts applying Florida law to an employment contract containing a covenant not to compete will enter injunctive relief enforcing the covenant so long as the agreement is in writing, signed by the person to be bound, is reasonable in geographic scope and duration, and finally, is supported by a legitimate business interest. These requirements are spelled out in Florida Statute § 542.335. The statute also defines legitimate business interests, identifying a non-exhaustive list that includes 1) trade secrets, 2) valuable confidential business or professional information, 3) relationships with existing customers, patients or clients, 4) goodwill associated with an ongoing business, a specific geographic location or a specific marketing or trade area, and finally, 5) extraordinary or specialized training. Again, this is a non-exhaustive list, and the statute itself makes this clear. In defining legitimate business interests, the relevant section states that...

November 3, 2017

Under Florida's litigation privilege, "a defendant can slander the plaintiff and lie to her and the court, and still be absolutely immune from a later lawsuit for defamation, tortious interference with a business relationship, and even violations of federal consumer protection statutes, as long as the slander and lies were made in the courtroom or during the formal discovery process and had some relation to the case."  This proposition was put to the test by attorney Michael Rudd and his law firm, Rudd & Diamond, P.A. in Arko Plumbing Corp. v. Rudd and Rudd & Diamond, P.A., 2017 WL 4654904 (Fla. 3d DCA 2017).

In 2013, Rudd and his firm were defending Citizens Property Insurance Corporation in the breach of property insurance case brought by the Bascuas family.  Rudd and his firm, with the help of a former Arko employee, John Collucci, used Collucci’s still-active password to access Arko’s MotoMon Global Positioning System account. MotoMon is an internet-based computer program which prov...

October 10, 2017

Florida’s Preservation and Protection of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act of 2008, FLA. STAT. § 790.251 (2017), is often referred to as the "Bring Your Gun to Work Law" or the "Parking Lot Law." 

Generally, under this law, no employer may prohibit an employee from possessing a legally owned firearm when such firearm is lawfully possessed and secured inside a private motor vehicle in an employer’s parking lot or garage when the employee is lawfully on the premises. 

Because of this law, employers are facing a delicate balancing act between honoring their employees' rights under the Bring Your Gun to Work Law, while at the same time maintaining a safe workplace for its other employees, customers and other invited guests. 

While the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (“OSHA”) does not have specific standards addressing workplace violence, OSHA’s General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1), requires employers to provide their employees with a pla...

September 29, 2017

Florida's "Stand your Ground" law does not immunize a defendant from civil liability for injuring another person, even the aggressor

September 26, 2017

Hodkin Stage is pleased to announce that its new name is Hodkin Stage Ward, and that we have been joined by distinguished litigator Philip E. Ward, Esq. Phil has been practicing law for nearly 30 years. He specializes in Commercial and Trademark Infringement, and other areas of law.

Previously, Phil was a Shareholder at GrayRobinson in the commercial litigation Department. His experience includes advising clients and handling the prosecution and defense of trademark infringement and unfair competition cases, as well as a wide range of business and real estate disputes in the state and federal court system, including specific performance, breach of contract, business torts and business fraud. Phil also has extensive experience handling emergency and time-sensitive matters involving temporary restraining orders and preliminary injunctions. Phil handles all aspects of discovery and trial phases of litigation. In addition, he is involved in an array of alternative dispute resolution ma...

September 15, 2017

White v. Mederi Caretenders Visiting Services of Southeast Florida, LLC, SC16-28, SC16-400

Home health referral sources can be a protected legitimate business interest under Fla. Stat. 542.335. In these two cases consolidated for review before the Supreme Court, both Employees were former employees of licensed home health care companies. Both Employees engaged in conduct in violation of their non-compete compliment contracts by working for direct competitors of their prior employers within the non-compete territories during the relevant periods. Because a contract providing restrictions on competition must involve a legitimate business interest as defined by statute to be enforceable, at issue was whether home health service referral sources can be a protected legitimate business interest under section 542.335 sufficient to support a restriction on competition in a contract. The Supreme Court held that home health service referrals may be a protected legitimate business interest dependi...

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September 26, 2017

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