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Certain Employers Not Subject To The Florida Civil Rights Act

This article addresses why certain employers are not subject to the Florida Civil Rights Act (“Act”).  Disgruntled employees are constantly seeking relief against employers for violations of the Act.  The Act makes it unlawful for any employer to discriminate or retaliate against an employee because of the employee’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.  § 760.10, Fla. Stat.[1]

To be liable under the Act, however, the employer or the employer’s agent must employ “15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks in the preceding calendar year.”  § 760.02(7) Fla. Stat.[2]

An employee that feels they were discriminated against has 365 days from the date of the alleged violation to bring a claim under the Act. Failure to bring a claim within that period results in the claim being barred. The claim is filed with the Florida Commission of Human Relations—a Commission established solely to enforce the Act.

In Johnson, the employee (Johnson) filed a claim against his employer, Rosebourne Investments (Rosebourne), for an alleged violation of the Act.  Johnson alleged that he was discriminated against based on his race and retaliated against for complaining of the discrimination.  The Commission investigated the claim and it was ultimately determined that Rosebourne was not an employer subject to the Act.  Specifically, Rosebourne did not meet the definition of “employer” under Section 760.02(7), Florida Statutes, because it did not have 15 or more employees for each working day in each of 20 or more calendar weeks during the years at issue. 

The Commission then issued a no reasonable cause determination which officially notified Johnson that his claim was denied and of his right to continue the claim by filing an administrative petition.  Johnson filed his petition and an administrative hearing was held.  After the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge entered a Recommended Order finding that Johnson failed to prove Rosebourne was an employer subject to the Act.  Because Johnson failed to prove that Rosebourne was an employer subject to the Act, the ALJ recommended that the case be dismissed.

This case provides an important example of why it is necessary to hire an attorney if a claim under the Act is brought against your company.  With an experienced and knowledgeable attorney, the appropriate documents can be submitted into evidence, and the claim can potentially be dismissed without getting into the merits of whether any violation occurred.

Jonathan Taylor is an associate attorney who joined The Law Offices of Moffa, Sutton, & Donnini, P.A., in 2016. Mr. Taylor concentrates in the area of Florida tax litigation. Mr. Taylor joined the firm after spending 3 years as a litigation associate with a well-respected law firm in Fort Lauderdale. During that time, Mr. Taylor practiced in the areas of commercial and business litigation. Mr. Taylor received his B.A. in Criminal Justice, magna cum laude, from Florida Atlantic University. Mr. Taylor then received his J.D. from Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center. While at Nova, Mr. Taylor was an associate editor with the Nova Law Review.


[1]. The link to Section 760.10, Fla. Stat., is http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0760/Sections/0760.10.html

[2]. The link to Section 760.02(7), Fla. Stat., is http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=0700-0799/0760/Sections/0760.02.html

Additional Resources

Johnson v. Rosebourne Investments, LLC, No. 18-6781 (Fla. DOAH Apr. 5, 2019) (Recommended Order).

Johnson v. Rosebourne Investments, LLC, No. 18-6781 (Fla. DOAH Apr. 5, 2019) (Notice of Determination).