The Middle District of Florida recently held that to establish a prima facie case under the Florida Private Whistleblower Act (FWA), § 448.102(3), Fla. Stat., a plaintiff must show an actual violation of a law, rule or regulation. Graddy v. Wal–Mart Stores E., LP, No. 5:16-CV-9-OC-28PRL (M.D. Fla. Feb. 14, 2017).
Jurate Schwartz is a senior counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Department. She devotes her practice to counseling clients in employment matters, as well as representing employers in federal and state litigations, arbitrations and administrative proceedings.
Jurate’s practice includes providing advice on compliance with various laws affecting the workplace, including the FMLA, ADEA, Title VII, ADA, FLSA and similar state and local laws. She counsels clients on developing, implementing and enforcing personnel policies and procedures and reviewing and revising multi-state employee handbooks under federal, state and local laws. Jurate also advises clients on policy and training issues, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, employee classification, accomodation of religious beliefs, pregnancy and disability, and leaves of absence, including vacation and paid time off policies, multi-state paid sick and safe leave laws and paid family and medical leave laws. Jurate is experienced in conducting wage-and-hour audits under federal and state wage-hour laws and advising clients on classification issues. She also assists clients in drafting employment, independent contractor, consulting and separation agreements as well as various restrictive covenants.
In addition to counseling, Jurate litigates employment disputes of all types, including claims of employment discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblowing, breach of contract, employment-related torts and claims under federal and state wage-and-hour laws. Jurate also assists clients in matters involving trade secrets and non-competes, as well as nonsolicitation, nondisclosure agreements and other restrictive covenants.
Jurate has been ranked by Chambers USA in Florida since 2012. One client comments, "I am a client with extremely high expectations and Proskauer never ceases to exceed them. Jurate has a perfectionist personality and that fits well with how we operate."
Jurate’s pro bono work includes service on the HR committee of a not-for-profit organization, the YMCA of South Palm Beach County, Florida, and assisting other not-for-profit organizations with employment matters, as well as her successful representation of an unaccompanied immigrant child in an asylum proceeding referred by the National Center for Refugee & Immigrant Children.
A former employee of the upscale outdoor furniture designer and manufacturer Brown Jordan recently failed in his bid to pursue whistleblower retaliation claims against the company and also found himself liable for snooping on his boss’s (and other’s) emails. A three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed the District Court’s summary judgment for the employer on the former employee’s purported whistleblower claim, concluding that his report of alleged “misconduct” by his employer’s senior management was not actionable. In their unanimous decision, the judges also affirmed the District Court’s judgment in favor of the employer under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) due to the employee’s spying on the emails of his superiors, colleagues, and subordinates without authorization over a period of months. While both the former employee and former employer traded accusations of wrongdoing during the course of the litigation, after summary judgment, trial and appeal, it is only Carmicle, the former employee, who has been found by the district court and the circuit to have done anything improper. Carmicle v. Brown Jordan Int’l, Inc., et al., No. 16-11350 (11th Cir. Jan. 25, 2017)
Despite 14 pages of vigorous dissent, a majority of a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit has done the right thing and joined the Fourth, Sixth and Ninth Circuits in holding that the National Bank Act (“NBA”) preempts state wrongful discharge claims. In its May 5, 2015, decision, the majority…
Two weeks ago, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida dismissed with prejudice a former employee’s Dodd-Frank whistleblower claim on the ground that the employee was not a “whistleblower” within the meaning of the Dodd-Frank Reform Act because she did not provide information relating to a violation of the securities law to the SEC. Englehart v. Career Educ. Corp., No. 8:14-cv-444-T-33EAJ, 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64994 (M.D. Fla. May 12, 2014).