ShuffieldLowman attorneys Clay Roesch and Megan Nowicki recently represented Davis Group, P.A., an Orlando accounting firm in a lawsuit against a former employee who violated restrictive covenants put in place to protect its customer and client relationships. The Davis Group initiated litigation with the former employee which went to a four-day jury trial on February 28, 2022.  During the week of February 28, 2022, the jury reached a fully favorable verdict in favor of The Davis Group and awarded monetary damages, and made factual findings to support injunctive relief.

ShuffieldLowman is pleased to represent the Davis Group, P.A. in this matter which aimed to protect its existing customer relationships. We are proud of our team who worked so hard to ensure their client received fair compensation in accordance with the law and facts of the case.

Learn more about our Orlando litigation team by visiting our practice area page

Orlando, Florida – ShuffieldLowman partner Keith J. Hesse recently was awarded the St. Thomas More Award from the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Central Florida during the annual Red Mass held at St. James Cathedral.

The St. Thomas More Award is presented annually to a member of the legal profession whose accomplishments represent the principles of St. Thomas More. The recipient must be a practicing Catholic who displays a commitment to Catholic social teachings, promotes Christian principles to modern problems, promotes the social, intellectual, and spiritual welfare of the people they serve, and offers personal sacrifice for the good of the community. The Red Mass is an annual special event for the legal profession and has been held in Central Florida and throughout the country for many years.  It is attended by judges, attorneys, law professors, and their students, as well as government officials in the legislative and executive branches.

Hesse has more than 38 years of experience practicing law in the areas of commercial and corporate litigation, labor and employment, non-profit law, and real property litigation.  In addition, he has extensive experience in probate, trust, and guardianship disputes, representing fiduciaries, beneficiaries, and creditors.  He is an attorney and advisor to a variety of individuals, businesses, non-profit organizations and he is heavily involved in representing the manufacturing industry.

Hesse graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. and University of Michigan Law School with a J.D. He is a member of The Florida Bar and admitted to all Florida State Courts, U.S. Tax Court. U.S. Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit and U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida.  He holds the AV preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is a frequent speaker and author.

 He is a member of both the Florida Bar and the American Bar Association’s Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Sections, active in the Orange County Bar Association and Legal Aid Society, a graduate of the Leadership Orlando program, and the former Chair of the Ninth Judicial Circuit Grievance Committee.  In the community, he has served on the boards of and otherwise worked to support Habitat for Humanity of Winter Park-Maitland, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Florida, Junior Achievement, and other philanthropic organizations.  He served for years on the Advisory Board for Barry Law School and was instrumental in helping it obtain ABA accreditation.

ShuffieldLowman’s five offices are located in Orlando, Tavares, DeLand, Port Orange, and the newest location in Lake Nona. The firm is a 45-attorney, full-service law firm, practicing in the areas of commercial and civil litigation, corporate law, estate planning, real estate, and litigation. Specific areas include tax law, securities, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, estate planning, and probate, planning for families with closely held businesses, guardianship and elder law, tax controversy – Federal and State, non-profit organization law, banking and finance, land use and government law, fiduciary litigation, construction law, association law, bankruptcy and creditors’ rights, labor and employment, and mediation.

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Small business owners cringed when Florida’s minimum wage law was passed in November 2020 by over sixty (60%) of the voters.[1] Why? Well, because with small profit margins the minimum wage increase will affect a large segment of business owners in the State of Florida. In more rural communities, the new minimum wage law may cause entrepreneurs to crunch the numbers on whether or not continuing their business is even viable. So, what exactly do we all need to know?

Beginning September 30, 2021, and continuing each following year on September 30 through 2025, the minimum wage will increase by $1.00.

The minimum wage in the State of Florida will be as follows:

January 1, 2021                                   $8.65 per hour

September 30, 2021                            $10.00 per hour

September 30, 2022                            $11.00 per hour

September 30, 2023                            $12.00 per hour

September 30, 2024                            $13.00 per hour

September 30, 2025                            $14.00 per hour

September 30, 2026                            $15.00 per hour

This new law also increases the amount earned by tipped employees. For restaurants, bars, clubs, valets, or other tip-based enterprises, the minimum wage for tipped employees are as follows:

January 1, 2021                                   $5.63 per hour

September 30, 2021                            $6.98 per hour

September 30, 2022                            $7.98 per hour

September 30, 2023                            $8.98 per hour

September 30, 2024                            $9.98 per hour

September 30, 2025                            $10.98 per hour

September 30, 2026                            $11.98 per hour

Employers are required to implement and follow the new minimum wage and will face severe consequences for failing to abide by its incremental increases. This law permits the state attorney general’s office to sue to enforce the minimum wage. Also, if an employer is determined to be intentionally violating the new minimum wage, then that employer may be fined up to $1,000.00 for each violation.

There is a safe harbor for employers. Employees who believe they are not being paid the correct amount must notify the employer and provide fifteen (15) days to the employer to evaluate whether or not their rate of pay is in adherence with Florida’s law. After fifteen (15) days expire, and the employer does not re-calculate the employee’s wages, then the employee may file a civil action against the employer for back wages plus damages and attorney’s fees. The employee is provided protection against retaliation by the employer for filing any claims for lack of payment. But, for the employer, this provides you the opportunity to receive notice of a grievance and remediate any defaults without the shock of being sued.

There are options for employers to determine what is in the best interests of their business and in compliance with the new state law. The employer may consider reclassifying the employees. You may classify an employee who is eligible to earn a salary as opposed to being paid an hourly rate. These considerations can be tricky, though, so make sure you consult with your legal advisor before you institute new classifications of employees within your business.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your options, your labor and employment advisors at Shuffield, Lowman, & Wilson, P.A. are happy to advise you through this new legislation to ensure you avoid any pitfalls.


[1] See Article 24(c), Section X, Florida Constitution (2021).

Non-competes, or non-competition agreements, are becoming more and more common. They can protect an employer from having a valuable employee that they have invested in, trained and developed from joining a direct competitor and working against them. If you have been asked by your employer to sign a non-competition agreement or if you, as the employer, are preparing one for your employee to sign, ShuffieldLowman can assist. Watch as ShuffieldLowman labor & employment law attorney, Keith Hesse, provides some tips for enforcing or defeating a non-compete.