Florida Senate - 2013                             CS for SB 1216
       By the Committee on Criminal Justice; and Senator Bradley
       591-03351-13                                          20131216c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to employers and employees; amending
    3         s. 34.01, F.S.; providing jurisdiction of county
    4         courts over wage theft civil actions; creating s.
    5         448.115, F.S.; providing a definition for the term
    6         “wage theft”; creating a civil cause of action for
    7         wage theft; providing the procedure for filing of a
    8         civil action for wage theft; providing jurisdiction;
    9         limiting the filing fee to no more than $50; requiring
   10         a claimant to notify the employer of the employee’s
   11         intention to initiate a civil action; allotting the
   12         employer a specific time to resolve the action;
   13         providing a statute of limitations; requiring a
   14         claimant to prove wage theft by a preponderance of the
   15         evidence; limiting compensatory damages to twice the
   16         amount owed; prohibiting certain damages; authorizing
   17         a county, municipality, or political subdivision to
   18         establish a process by which a claim may be filed;
   19         prohibiting a local government from adopting or
   20         maintaining in effect a law, ordinance, or rule for
   21         the purpose of addressing unpaid wage claims;
   22         prohibiting the preemption of certain local ordinances
   23         governing wage theft; providing that any regulation,
   24         ordinance, or other provision for recovery of unpaid
   25         wages by counties, municipalities, or political
   26         subdivisions is prohibited and preempted to the state;
   27         providing an effective date.
   29  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   31         Section 1. Subsection (1) of section 34.01, Florida
   32  Statutes, is amended to read:
   33         34.01 Jurisdiction of county court.—
   34         (1) County courts shall have original jurisdiction:
   35         (a) In all misdemeanor cases not cognizable by the circuit
   36  courts.;
   37         (b) Of all violations of municipal and county ordinances.;
   38         (c) Of all actions at law in which the matter in
   39  controversy does not exceed the sum of $15,000, exclusive of
   40  interest, costs, and attorney’s fees, except those within the
   41  exclusive jurisdiction of the circuit courts.; and
   42         (d) Of disputes occurring in the homeowners’ associations
   43  as described in s. 720.311(2)(a), which shall be concurrent with
   44  jurisdiction of the circuit courts.
   45         (e) Of actions for the collection of compensation under s.
   46  448.115, notwithstanding the amount in controversy prescribed in
   47  paragraph (c).
   48         Section 2. Section 448.115, Florida Statutes, is created to
   49  read:
   50         448.115 Civil action for wage theft; notice; civil penalty;
   51  preemption.—
   52         (1)(a) As used in this section, the term “wage theft” means
   53  an illegal or improper underpayment or nonpayment of an
   54  individual employee’s wage, salary, commission, or other similar
   55  form of compensation within a reasonable time from the date on
   56  which the employee performed the work to be compensated.
   57         (b) A wage theft occurs when an employer fails to pay a
   58  portion of wages, salary, commissions, or other similar form of
   59  compensation due to an employee within a reasonable time from
   60  the date on which the employee performed the work, according to
   61  the already applicable rate and the pay schedule of the employer
   62  established by policy or practice. In the absence of an
   63  established pay schedule, a reasonable time from the date on
   64  which the employee performed the work is 2 weeks.
   65         (2)(a) If an employer commits wage theft as defined in
   66  paragraph (1)(a), an aggrieved employee may initiate a civil
   67  action as provided in this section.
   68         (b) County courts shall have original and exclusive
   69  jurisdiction in all actions involving wage theft, as provided in
   70  s. 34.01. Notwithstanding section 34.041, the filing fee for a
   71  claim brought pursuant to this section may not exceed $50.
   72         (c) The action shall:
   73         1. Be brought in the county court in the county where the
   74  employee performed the work; and
   75         2. Be governed by the Florida Small Claims Rules.
   76         (3)(a) Before bringing an action, the claimant must notify
   77  the employer who is alleged to have engaged in wage theft of an
   78  intent to initiate a civil action orally or in writing.
   79         (b) The notice must identify the amount that the claimant
   80  alleges is owed, the actual or estimated work dates and hours
   81  for which compensation is sought, and the total amount of
   82  compensation unpaid through the date of the notice.
   83         (c) The employer has 7 days after the date of service of
   84  the notice to pay the total amount of unpaid compensation or
   85  otherwise resolve the action to the satisfaction of the
   86  claimant.
   87         (4) The action must be filed within 1 year after the last
   88  date that the alleged unpaid work was performed by the employee.
   89         (5) The claimant must prove wage theft by a preponderance
   90  of the evidence. A prevailing claimant is entitled to damages
   91  limited to twice the amount of compensation due and owing. The
   92  court may only award economic damages expressly authorized in
   93  this subsection, and may not award noneconomic or punitive
   94  damages, or attorney fees to a prevailing party notwithstanding
   95  section 448.08.
   96         (6)(a) A county, municipality, or political subdivision may
   97  establish an administrative, nonjudicial process under which an
   98  assertion of unpaid compensation may be submitted by, or on
   99  behalf of, an employee in order to assist in the collection of
  100  compensation owed to the employee. Any such process, at a
  101  minimum, shall afford the parties involved an opportunity to
  102  negotiate a resolution regarding the compensation in question.
  103  The county, municipality, or political subdivision may, as part
  104  of the process, assist the employee in completing an application
  105  for a determination of civil indigent status under s. 57.082 and
  106  may pay the filing fee under s. 34.041 on behalf of the
  107  employee, if applicable. The process may not adjudicate a
  108  compensation dispute between an employee and an employer nor
  109  award damages to the employee.
  110         (b) A county, municipality, or political subdivision may
  111  not adopt or maintain in effect any law, ordinance, or rule that
  112  creates requirements or regulations for the purpose of
  113  addressing unpaid compensation claims other than to establish
  114  the administrative, nonjudicial process provided for in this
  115  subsection.
  116         (c) Notwithstanding paragraph (b), a local ordinance
  117  governing wage theft enacted before January 1, 2011, is not
  118  preempted by this section.
  119         (d) Any other regulation, ordinance, or provision for the
  120  recovery of unpaid compensation by a county, municipality, or
  121  political subdivision is expressly prohibited and is preempted
  122  to the state.
  123         Section 3. This act shall take effect upon becoming a law.