Can an employer who is also your landlord force you to work for free or evict you?

I live in FL and my boyfriend and I were on the verge of being homeless when the owner of the hotel we were staying at offered him the room in exchange for work. Without thinking he agreed. They make him work about 9-10 hours a day, 7 days a week. He has not had a day off in almost 3 years. The only compensation he receives is a small room and 1 meal just for him, a day. If he were to take a day off to look for another job they said he has to pay $60 for the room that day. No work, no room. I am disabled and unable to work at the moment. He's a hard worker and would actually be making a decent living if he was being paid for his work, not to mention the overtime he's put in for free. It's almost like he's working as slave labor. They shouldn't be able to make him choose between working for free and sleeping on the street. Does he have a case?

1 answer  |  asked Apr 8, 2019 2:18 PM [EST]  |  applies to Florida

Answers (1)

Archibald Thomas
Based on the limited information provided, your boyfriend may be able to pursue a claim for minimum wage and overtime compensation. You should discuss this with a lawyer right away since there are various issues that must be analyzed, such as the nature of the employment relationship, the nature of the duties provided by your boyfriend and whether the employer is covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act (most hotels are covered). There is also a two year statute of limitations under federal law. However, in cases of willful violations of the act, you may be able to go back as far as three years to recover any unpaid overtime or minimum wage compensation.

Archibald Thomas
Board Certified Labor & Employment Lawyer
4651 Salisbury Road, Suite 255
Jacksonville, FL 32256
(904) 674-2222

posted by Archibald Thomas  |  Apr 8, 2019 2:29 PM [EST]

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