Smaller Employers in Miami-Dade County: Get Ready for More Litigation
Tampa, Fla. (June 29, 2022) - The Florida Third District Court of Appeal unanimously expanded the rights of private employees to sue for workplace discrimination under a local Miami-Dade County ordinance. In White v. AutoZone Investment Corp., No. 3D21-598 (Fla. 3d DCA June 15, 2022), the Third District held that the “plain and unambiguous language” of section 11A-28(10) of the Miami-Dade County Code establishes a private cause of action for employees who file employment discrimination complaints under the ordinance.
In 2006, the Miami-Dade County Commission amended section 11A-28(10) to provide private persons the ability to enforce employment discrimination complaints. Section 11A-28(10) states that “following receipt of the notice of right-to-sue, the aggrieved person may commence a civil action in a court of competent jurisdiction against the respondent.” When read with the provision allowing courts to provide affirmative relief in “private enforcement proceedings under this Article,” the Third District determined the right to private enforcement was “expressly” created.
This decision greatly expands Miami-Dade employees’ ability to sue employers for workplace discrimination. Since this ordinance covers employers with five or more employees, there is now a greater opportunity for plaintiffs in Miami-Dade County to file claims against small employers. Previously, plaintiffs could only rely on state and federal law, which limited lawsuits to employers with at least 15 (or 20) employees.
Although the White decision is not final until the time to file a motion for rehearing runs, this opinion will likely result in a significant increase in discrimination cases brought against smaller employers in Miami-Dade County Florida.
For more information on this decision, contact any of the attorneys listed below. Visit our Labor & Employment Practice page for additional alerts in this area.
Shannon Murphy, Summer Associate
David S. Harvey, Jr., Partner
Jonathan A. Beckerman, Partner
Cheryl Wilke, Partner