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The Florida Senate

2020 Florida Statutes

Waiver of rights; fees; privileged communications.
F.S. 443.041
443.041 Waiver of rights; fees; privileged communications.
(1) WAIVER OF RIGHTS VOID.Any agreement by an individual to waive, release, or commute her or his rights to benefits or any other rights under this chapter is void. Any agreement by an individual in the employ of any person or concern to pay all or any portion of any employer’s contributions, reimbursements, interest, penalties, fines, or fees required under this chapter from the employer, is void. An employer may not directly or indirectly make or require or accept any deduction from wages to finance the employer’s contributions, reimbursements, interest, penalties, fines, or fees required from her or him, or require or accept any waiver of any right under this chapter by any individual in her or his employ. An employer, or an officer or agent of an employer, who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(2) FEES.
(a) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, an individual claiming benefits may not be charged fees of any kind in any proceeding under this chapter by the commission or the Department of Economic Opportunity, or their representatives, or by any court or any officer of the court. An individual claiming benefits in any proceeding before the commission or the department, or representatives of either, or a court may be represented by counsel or an authorized representative, but the counsel or representative may not charge or receive for those services more than an amount approved by the commission, the department, or the court.
(b) An attorney at law representing a claimant for benefits in any district court of appeal of this state or in the Supreme Court of Florida is entitled to counsel fees payable by the department as set by the court if the petition for review or appeal is initiated by the claimant and results in a decision awarding more benefits than provided in the decision from which appeal was taken. The amount of the fee may not exceed 50 percent of the total amount of regular benefits permitted under s. 443.111(5)(b) during the benefit year.
(c) The department shall pay attorneys’ fees awarded under this section from the Employment Security Administration Trust Fund as part of the costs of administration of this chapter and may pay these fees directly to the attorney for the claimant in a lump sum. The department or the commission may not pay any other fees or costs in connection with an appeal.
(d) Any person, firm, or corporation who or which seeks or receives any remuneration or gratuity for any services rendered on behalf of a claimant, except as allowed by this section and in an amount approved by the department, the commission, or a court, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3) PRIVILEGED COMMUNICATIONS.All letters, reports, communications, or any other matters, either oral or written, between an employer and an employee or between the Department of Economic Opportunity or its tax collection service provider and any of their agents, representatives, or employees which are written, sent, delivered, or made in connection with this chapter, are privileged and may not be the subject matter or basis for any suit for slander or libel in any court of the state.
History.s. 16, ch. 18402, 1937; s. 11, ch. 19637, 1939; CGL 1940 Supp. 4151(503), 8135(42)-(44); s. 15, ch. 20685, 1941; s. 10, ch. 26879, 1951; s. 4, ch. 57-268; ss. 17, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 371, ch. 71-136; s. 28, ch. 79-7; s. 186, ch. 79-400; ss. 1, 8, 9, ch. 80-95; s. 11, ch. 91-269; s. 2, ch. 94-347; s. 140, ch. 97-103; s. 101, ch. 2000-153; s. 19, ch. 2003-36; s. 353, ch. 2011-142; s. 8, ch. 2011-235.
Note.Former s. 443.16.