We previously posted about a decision from the Northern District of Florida-Lafayette v. Winstead County-holding that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation. Our own Elizabeth White's article on courts' growing recognition of this new theory was also featured in this Spring's business edition of Best Lawyers Magazine. Since we wrote those two pieces, there have been some major shake-ups in this area of employment law.
A recent case argued before the United States Supreme Court, Packingham v. North Carolina, may shake up how the government can regulate the internet activity. The petition involves a First Amendment challenge to a North Carolina law that imposes criminal penalties to registered sex offenders who visit "social media sites," such as Facebook or Youtube, where users can communicate or exchange information with minors. The case arises from a sex-offender who was prosecuted for posting the phrase "God is Good!" on Facebook to celebrate the dismissal of a traffic ticket.
In a decision rendered last week, Norman v. State, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a Second Amendment challenge to Florida's "Open-Carry" law. The statute in question, section 790.053, prohibits individuals from visibly carrying firearms in public. Under the statutory scheme, a gun-owner must first obtain a license to carry a firearm in public. Even after they obtain a license, they still must conceal the firearm-for instance, in an article of clothing-when they are carrying. Failure to do so is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60-days' imprisonment and a $500 fine. The Open Carry law also contains sixteen exceptions, including one for bringing firearms on fishing, camping, or hunting expeditions.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles maintains a database containing personal information and photographs of all Florida driver's license-holders, called D.A.V.I.D. Police officers throughout the state have access to this database to assist them in carrying out their law-enforcement duties. If police officers abuse their access rights, the drivers whose privacy rights
Qualified immunity is one of the largest obstacles facing civil rights attorneys. The doctrine of qualified immunity gives police officers or other state actors immunity from suit in certain situations. To overcome the defense the plaintiff first needs to prove that (1) the defendant violated the plaintiff's constitutional rights; and (2) that the constitutional violation
In August of this year, the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission succeeded on a Title VII claim on behalf of an employee who was discriminated against due to sexual orientation. We wrote about that opinion in a previous blog post. Last month, they achieved a similar victory in Pennsylvania, marking the latest in a recent trend of federal courts across the nation recognizing that LGBT employees are subject to all of Title VII's protections.
People often associate the Fourth Amendment with its prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures in the criminal context. However, Fourth Amendment protections apply anytime that an officer of the government detains someone. One of the most common applications of the Fourth Amendment outside the criminal context is "mental-health seizures". The law allows officers to seize a person to ascertain their mental state however the fourth amendment requires that the officer have probable cause that the person is dangerous either to himself or to others before doing so. Just like unlawful arrests, the victims of unlawful mental health seizures can bring a cause of action against the seizing officer for violations of their Fourth Amendment rights.
While the 2016 election is most notable for selecting the nation's next president, Florida voters are also deciding on some important amendments to the state's constitution. Not the least of which is Amendment 2, which is poised to legalize medical marijuana in Florida. Twenty-five states currently have laws that allow medical marijuana in some form. If Florida joins these states, the Amendment will create a new framework for prescribing, distributing, and possessing medical marijuana.