Employer Representation in Jacksonville

The Roth Law Firm represents businesses and other commercial parties in commercial litigation. This covers a vast array of cases. It means we help businesses resolve conflicts.

This includes representing companies as employers. We defend lawsuits by current or former employees. We also enforce or defend claims based on non-competes or employment contracts.

Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation
904-595-7900

JB Roth and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent you whenever your business faces wrongdoing from, or accusations by, an employee. Those cases can arise from several situations, such as:

✔ Violation of non-compete

✔ Improper use of trade secrets

✔ Accusations of disability, racial, sexual, or age discrimination or retaliation

✔ Accusations of sexual harassment

✔ Claims of wrongful termination of employment

✔ Whistleblower claims

✔ Claims of unpaid overtime

✔ Claims of unpaid wages

✔ Minimum Wage litigation

We represent employers throughout the State of Florida in both State and Federal courts—County Courts, Circuit Courts, and Federal District Courts. We can take cases from the Keys to the Alabama border, from Jacksonville/Duval County to Miami-Dade, and everywhere in between, including of course our home base on the First Coast.

We also represent clients in administrative proceedings in front of the Florida Human Rights Commission (FHRC) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Pre-litigation

The Roth Law Firm is very efficient at handling employment-related conflicts before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before the employee files papers in Court or with government agencies.

We will attempt to resolve the problem your business is facing before having to spend a lot of time and money in court if possible. JB was a businessman before he was a lawyer. We understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Pre-litigation in employment matters takes an additional turn insofar as most employee claims must be brought to the attention of a government agency first, either state or federal. Those proceedings are a double-edged sword. They are extraordinarily streamlined compared to a lawsuit, and sometimes will mark the end of the matter. But they do not prevent an employee from taking their employer to court afterward if they are determined to do so.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

If the matter does proceed to court, you can expect a long process. A lawsuit that proceeds all the way to trial frequently takes a year and a half or more. Looking at it from 30,000 feet, it will be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

Pleadings refer to the first set of documents the parties file in court. Those documents do not try to prove of anything. They merely put each party on notice of what the other claims. Whether those claims are true and may be proven will be determined over the rest of the lawsuit.

There will always be at least two documents filed as pleadings. The case starts with the plaintiff’s complaint, which alleges that certain things happened, and that the plaintiff should be compensated for them. Then the defendant answers by saying which allegations are true (some will be) and which are denied.

The defendant has the option to do a few other things, two of which are frequent. They may state legal theories in defense of the claims—theories under which, even if the facts alleged could be proven, the defendant is not responsible. And they can bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff. It is easy to imagine a dispute where each side claims the other is at fault.

The Discovery Phase

Discovery is the part that everyone loves to hate. It is invasive and time consuming. But it is a crucially important process. This is where each side finds out what the other has, who will actually say what on the stand, and so on and so forth.

This is done through several mechanisms. Each side produces the documents the other side demands, each asks the other to answer questions in writing under oath, and takes the other’s deposition. Subpoenas allow for documents and testimony from third-party witnesses to be obtained as well.

The Judgment Phase

Once the documents and testimony uncover the facts, one of two things will happen. If the facts are uncontested, if everybody agrees on what happened, just not on what it means under the law, the Court will be in a position to hand down a judgment without trial.

More often, testimonies will conflict, memories will differ, and the parties will have a trial. A trial’s basic rhythm is known to most people. It follows a familiar pattern, with jury selection (unless it is a bench trial), opening arguments, witnesses called, examined, and cross-examined, documents admitted in evidence, and so on.

What is less obvious is the amount of work leading to trial. If there is a jury, it is the lawyers who prepare jury questionnaires to select it. They will also prepare the instructions that will be read to the jury from the bench at the end of trial. All those are then submitted to the judge for approval. The parties also exchange witness and evidence lists, and the Court will hear argument over their admission ahead of the trial itself if necessary.

Depending on the size of the case, this can take a substantial amount of time.

After the Judgment

If the plaintiff obtained a judgment in their favor, they may still need to collect it. The good news is that mechanisms exist to obtain the court’s assistance in doing so. Courts do not like the idea of their judgments being worth no more than the paper on which it is printed.

Conversely, there may also be post-trial challenges to the verdict. Short of an appeal, those can include motions to increase or decrease damages, for a new trial, for attorneys’ fees, to reform the judgment, etc.

Settlement

Just as surely as it can be necessary to go to trial, the vast majority of civil cases settle beforehand.

Many settle in mediation. Mediation is a low-pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room while the mediator goes back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They may not force any result on any party. They merely help the parties negotiate. And yet, surprisingly often, that exercise leads to a settlement.

JB has spent a long time developing the skills to help his clients make the most of mediation. Roth Law Firm clients have the benefit of our business experience, legal expertise, and ability to think outside the box and be creative when called upon.

Issues Arising in Employment Lawsuits

Except for breaches of an employment contract or a non-compete agreement, all employment matters are based on a statute. There is no such thing as wrongful termination—only illegal termination, and it is illegal if it violates a statute. Many employment-law cases involve claims of some sort of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. Others claim unpaid wages or overtime.

In discrimination-type cases, there will be recurring questions that need to be addressed.

Was the Employee Adversely Affected?

Before a Court will issue a judgment against an employer, the employee has to suffer an “adverse employment action.” In some cases, it is easy to establish, even undisputed. Those can be cases where the employee was fired or demoted with loss of pay. Other matters allow for gray areas. An employee transferred to a different job or location may deem it a demotion even if they keep the same pay. The courts may too, in some cases. Did the employee keep the same authority and level of responsibility? The same or equivalent title? Do they have the same opportunity for promotion in the new job as the old? Many factors can play a role.

Whistleblower and other retaliation cases involve the same wrong but start with different question: did the employee engage in a protected activity. Simply complaining around the water cooler or coffee pot, even to a supervisor, will not do. Typically, protected activities are written complaints about alleged illegal conduct, complaints to a government agency, or refusal to engage in an activity the employee believe is illegal.

Did the Employer Act Unlawfully?

Answering that question follows a three-step process. First, the employee must provide some kind of proof, be it circumstantial, that illegal behavior such as discrimination may be at play. It must be discrimination (or harassment or retaliation) based on a statutorily recognized trait, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, age, or disability. Some grounds, here too, wade into a gray area. For example, when is obesity sufficient to constitute a disability? Does discrimination based on gender cover cases based on gender orientation?

In the second step, the employer presents legitimate reasons for the adverse employment action, and in the third, the employee tries to show that the professed reason is nothing more than a pretext. At the core of this exercise is the legal concept of causation. Why did the employer fire the employee? Imagine a case where the employee did something wrong—say, falsify a time sheet. Imagine now that the employer did something wrong too, such as violating its own disciplinary policy for a minority employee but maybe not for others. What is the real reason behind termination? Was it employee misconduct, or was it racism? It will be for a jury to decide, and for your lawyer to develop the evidence to support your business’s position.

What Remedies are Available?

The most common remedy is monetary. It encompasses lost pay, future losses to a point, and some statutory or punitive damages in egregious cases. The employee, however, must make efforts to mitigate damages. One who was fired, in particular, must assiduously look for another job and may not sit on their hands hoping for a big payday in court.

In some circumstances, the court may also order the employee’s reinstatement in their prior position, that the employer grant a denied promotion, or similar relief. Given the bad blood judges know results from a lawsuit, those are rather unusual, but they happen.

Speaking of remedies, nearly all employment statutes have an attorneys’ fees provision benefiting employees. Should the employee prevail, the employer will have to pay both lawyers—their own and the plaintiff’s. The reverse is rarely true.

When it comes to lawsuits over unpaid wages or overtime, and about non-competes, the underlying questions are different.

Overtime and Wage Cases

Unpaid overtime, and unpaid wages in general, do not follow the three-step procedure in discrimination claims. They impose instead the natural obligation on the plaintiff to prove their case: that they worked hours for which they were not paid or were not paid enough. The most basic questions that will highlight an overtime lawsuit are whether the employer is covered by the overtime statute, whether the employee is eligible for overtime, whether the employer carefully determined eligibility (winging it is not enough), and how many overtime hours the employee worked. Notably, an employee who works overtime must be paid for it even if they did so against the employer’s instructions. They can be fired as insubordinate, but the overtime is owed.

Breach of Non-Competes and Other Employment Contracts

Employment contracts are just that, contracts. Please refer to our breach of contract page for complete information. Enforcing a non-compete is also contractual but has a few extra wrinkles. For one thing, the employer will have to prove the non-compete is protecting legitimate business interests, things like trade secrets or client relationships. For another, non-competes will only be enforced for a reasonable time and over a reasonable geographic area. And on that point, while courts are prohibited from re-writing any other contract—they rule on the terms the parties wrote and agreed to—they may narrow down a non-compete in order to enforce it.

We Can Help You

Not all areas of law are created equal or require the exact same set of skills. The Roth Law Firm is positioned to represent Florida employers in court. We offer the benefits of a smaller firm: we know our clients well and are devoted to them. And the Law is the Great Equalizer: each party is ultimately represented by one lawyer making their arguments to one judge or jury.

We have the business sense and legal smarts to guide you through an employment lawsuit, to settlement when possible, to trial when needed, and arrive at the best possible outcome under the law.

If you or your business is experiencing a conflict that might require the Courts’ intervention, please call us for a consultation. We will take good care of you.

The Roth Law Firm represents businesses and other commercial parties in commercial litigation. This covers a vast array of cases. It means we help businesses resolve conflicts.

This includes representing companies as employers. We defend lawsuits by current or former employees. We also enforce or defend claims based on non-competes or employment contracts.

Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation
904-595-7900

JB Roth and the Roth Law Firm have the business knowledge and the legal skills to represent you whenever your business faces wrongdoing from, or accusations by, an employee. Those cases can arise from several situations, such as:

✔ Violation of non-compete

✔ Improper use of trade secrets

✔ Accusations of disability, racial, sexual, or age discrimination or retaliation

✔ Accusations of sexual harassment

✔ Claims of wrongful termination of employment

✔ Whistleblower claims

✔ Claims of unpaid overtime

✔ Claims of unpaid wages

✔ Minimum Wage litigation

We represent employers throughout the State of Florida in both State and Federal courts—County Courts, Circuit Courts, and Federal District Courts. We can take cases from the Keys to the Alabama border, from Jacksonville/Duval County to Miami-Dade, and everywhere in between, including of course our home base on the First Coast.

We also represent clients in administrative proceedings in front of the Florida Human Rights Commission (FHRC) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Pre-litigation

The Roth Law Firm is very efficient at handling employment-related conflicts before crossing the threshold to the Courthouse. The best time to call us is generally when the dispute has crystallized but before the employee files papers in Court or with government agencies.

We will attempt to resolve the problem your business is facing before having to spend a lot of time and money in court if possible. JB was a businessman before he was a lawyer. We understand the need to make smart decisions that will protect your rights, your wallet, and your reputation.

Pre-litigation in employment matters takes an additional turn insofar as most employee claims must be brought to the attention of a government agency first, either state or federal. Those proceedings are a double-edged sword. They are extraordinarily streamlined compared to a lawsuit, and sometimes will mark the end of the matter. But they do not prevent an employee from taking their employer to court afterward if they are determined to do so.

Anatomy of a Lawsuit

If the matter does proceed to court, you can expect a long process. A lawsuit that proceeds all the way to trial frequently takes a year and a half or more. Looking at it from 30,000 feet, it will be divided into three very broad phases.

The Pleadings Phase

Pleadings refer to the first set of documents the parties file in court. Those documents do not try to prove anything. They merely put each party on notice of what the other claims. Whether those claims are true and may be proven will be determined over the rest of the lawsuit.

There will always be at least two documents filed as pleadings. The case starts with the plaintiff’s complaint, which alleges that certain things happened, and that the plaintiff should be compensated for them. Then the defendant answers by saying which allegations are true (some will be) and which are denied.

The defendant has the option to do a few other things, two of which are frequent. They may state legal theories in defense of the claims—theories under which, even if the facts alleged could be proven, the defendant is not responsible. And they can bring a counter-lawsuit against the plaintiff. It is easy to imagine a dispute where each side claims the other is at fault.

The Discovery Phase

Discovery is the part that everyone loves to hate. It is invasive and time consuming. But it is a crucially important process. This is where each side finds out what the other has, who will actually say what on the stand, and so on and so forth.

This is done through several mechanisms. Each side produces the documents the other side demands, each asks the other to answer questions in writing under oath, and takes the other’s deposition. Subpoenas allow for documents and testimony from third-party witnesses to be obtained as well.

The Judgment Phase

Once the documents and testimony uncover the facts, one of two things will happen. If the facts are uncontested, if everybody agrees on what happened, just not on what it means under the law, the Court will be in a position to hand down a judgment without trial.

More often, testimonies will conflict, memories will differ, and the parties will have a trial. A trial’s basic rhythm is known to most people. It follows a familiar pattern, with jury selection (unless it is a bench trial), opening arguments, witnesses called, examined, and cross-examined, documents admitted in evidence, and so on.

What is less obvious is the amount of work leading to trial. If there is a jury, it is the lawyers who prepare jury questionnaires to select it. They will also prepare the instructions that will be read to the jury from the bench at the end of trial. All those are then submitted to the judge for approval. The parties also exchange witness and evidence lists, and the Court will hear argument over their admission ahead of the trial itself if necessary.

Depending on the size of the case, this can take a substantial amount of time.

After the Judgment

If the plaintiff obtained a judgment in their favor, they may still need to collect it. The good news is that mechanisms exist to obtain the court’s assistance in doing so. Courts do not like the idea of their judgments being worth no more than the paper on which it is printed.

Conversely, there may also be post-trial challenges to the verdict. Short of an appeal, those can include motions to increase or decrease damages, for a new trial, for attorneys’ fees, to reform the judgment, etc.

Settlement

Just as surely as it can be necessary to go to trial, the vast majority of civil cases settle beforehand.

Many settle in mediation. Mediation is a low-pressure affair, where each side sits in their own room while the mediator goes back and forth between them. The mediator is a neutral third-party with no stake in the lawsuit. They may not force any result on any party. They merely help the parties negotiate. And yet, surprisingly often, that exercise leads to a settlement.

JB has spent a long time developing the skills to help his clients make the most of mediation. Roth Law Firm clients have the benefit of our business experience, legal expertise, and ability to think outside the box and be creative when called upon.

Issues Arising in Employment Lawsuits

Except for breaches of an employment contract or a non-compete agreement, all employment matters are based on a statute. There is no such thing as wrongful termination—only illegal termination, and it is illegal if it violates a statute. Many employment-law cases involve claims of some sort of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment. Others claim unpaid wages or overtime.

In discrimination-type cases, there will be recurring questions that need to be addressed.

Was the Employee Adversely Affected?

Before a Court will issue a judgment against an employer, the employee has to suffer an “adverse employment action.” In some cases, it is easy to establish, even undisputed. Those can be cases where the employee was fired or demoted with loss of pay. Other matters allow for gray areas. An employee transferred to a different job or location may deem it a demotion even if they keep the same pay. The courts may too, in some cases. Did the employee keep the same authority and level of responsibility? The same or equivalent title? Do they have the same opportunity for promotion in the new job as the old? Many factors can play a role.

Whistleblower and other retaliation cases involve the same wrong but start with different question: did the employee engage in a protected activity. Simply complaining around the water cooler or coffee pot, even to a supervisor, will not do. Typically, protected activities are written complaints about alleged illegal conduct, complaints to a government agency, or refusal to engage in an activity the employee believe is illegal.

Did the Employer Act Unlawfully?

Answering that question follows a three-step process. First, the employee must provide some kind of proof, be it circumstantial, that illegal behavior such as discrimination may be at play. It must be discrimination (or harassment or retaliation) based on a statutorily recognized trait, such as race, nationality, religion, gender, age, or disability. Some grounds, here too, wade into a gray area. For example, when is obesity sufficient to constitute a disability? Does discrimination based on gender cover cases based on gender orientation?

In the second step, the employer presents legitimate reasons for the adverse employment action, and in the third, the employee tries to show that the professed reason is nothing more than a pretext. At the core of this exercise is the legal concept of causation. Why did the employer fire the employee? Imagine a case where the employee did something wrong—say, falsify a time sheet. Imagine now that the employer did something wrong too, such as violating its own disciplinary policy for a minority employee but maybe not for others. What is the real reason behind termination? Was it employee misconduct, or was it racism? It will be for a jury to decide, and for your lawyer to develop the evidence to support your business’s position.

What Remedies are Available?

The most common remedy is monetary. It encompasses lost pay, future losses to a point, and some statutory or punitive damages in egregious cases. The employee, however, must make efforts to mitigate damages. One who was fired, in particular, must assiduously look for another job and may not sit on their hands hoping for a big payday in court.

In some circumstances, the court may also order the employee’s reinstatement in their prior position, that the employer grant a denied promotion, or similar relief. Given the bad blood judges know results from a lawsuit, those are rather unusual, but they happen.

Speaking of remedies, nearly all employment statutes have an attorneys’ fees provision benefiting employees. Should the employee prevail, the employer will have to pay both lawyers—their own and the plaintiff’s. The reverse is rarely true.

When it comes to lawsuits over unpaid wages or overtime, and about non-competes, the underlying questions are different.

Overtime and Wage Cases

Unpaid overtime, and unpaid wages in general, do not follow the three-step procedure in discrimination claims. They impose instead the natural obligation on the plaintiff to prove their case: that they worked hours for which they were not paid or were not paid enough. The most basic questions that will highlight an overtime lawsuit are whether the employer is covered by the overtime statute, whether the employee is eligible for overtime, whether the employer carefully determined eligibility (winging it is not enough), and how many overtime hours the employee worked. Notably, an employee who works overtime must be paid for it even if they did so against the employer’s instructions. They can be fired as insubordinate, but the overtime is owed.

Breach of Non-Competes and Other Employment Contracts

Employment contracts are just that, contracts. Please refer to our breach of contract page for complete information. Enforcing a non-compete is also contractual but has a few extra wrinkles. For one thing, the employer will have to prove the non-compete is protecting legitimate business interests, things like trade secrets or client relationships. For another, non-competes will only be enforced for a reasonable time and over a reasonable geographic area. And on that point, while courts are prohibited from re-writing any other contract—they rule on the terms the parties wrote and agreed to—they may narrow down a non-compete in order to enforce it.

We Can Help You

Not all areas of law are created equal or require the exact same set of skills. The Roth Law Firm is positioned to represent Florida employers in court. We offer the benefits of a smaller firm: we know our clients well and are devoted to them. And the Law is the Great Equalizer: each party is ultimately represented by one lawyer making their arguments to one judge or jury.

We have the business sense and legal smarts to guide you through an employment lawsuit, to settlement when possible, to trial when needed, and arrive at the best possible outcome under the law.

If you or your business is experiencing a conflict that might require the Courts’ intervention, please call us for a consultation. We will take good care of you.


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900


Contact Us to Arrange a Consultation

904-595-7900