Governmental Disputes

Governmental dispute

Land use, regulated business operation, and proper government contracting procedure are examples of where governmental disputes can arise.

Government is critically important to a well ordered society. Its primary purpose is the safety of the citizenry. It does this through things like police and fire departments. Government building departments develop and enforce building codes that make sure construction is performed in a way that makes structures safe. Government collects money for public purposes that absolutely cannot be achieved by private enterprises. Don’t think so? Did you drive somewhere today on a paved road? Those are the types of government action we value. Governments stand against anarchy and violence.

Of course, with government power comes an ability to abuse the power. Imagine getting hit with a one hundred dollar a day fine for an alleged code violation you do not agree is a code violation. That is a coercive power that can be abused. All too often, people fold in the face of the overzealous inspector because asserting one’s rights seems like a high expense and high risk option. So, you bow low before the misguided inspector, do as told, and hope he moves on to the next victim. Or, you know you meet all the criteria to obtain a zoning variance or special use permit but the governing board simply doesn’t like the project you want to build.

Disagreement regarding land use regulations such as zoning law interpretation and approval in order to construct real property improvements or to make a particular use of your property is not unusual. Federal, State, county, and city regulations on use of your property must be interpreted and complied with. Finding the proper line for compliance with the law and not more is sometimes hard to do.

VolkLaw can help you understand the law you are dealing with and whether it is being legally enforced. Yes, government breaks the law at times. Usually, accidentally. Occasionally, it does so willfully and maliciously. Generally, government and its agents enjoy sovereign immunity. So, they and their agents generally cannot be sued. The key word is “generally.” We understand the exceptions and how to communicate with government employees to try to get things done or make them understand our clients are not doing anything wrong. Most people are reasonable and if communicated with effectively they will do the right thing. If they go too far, they can impinge on your civil rights including your right to due process and equal protection under the law.

Regulation of businesses is an ever growing concern. Public health, safety, and welfare are the driving force behind these regulations. Of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

In Brevard County, Florida, you will generally need a county occupational license, although sometimes this is required only if you are in an unincorporated part of the county. If you will be operating in an incorporated portion like The City of Melbourne you will need a city license as well. Licensing fees are not high, but it is important to comply with whatever regulations exist, since a non-licensed business can be shut down by local authorities at any time.

Check on State of Florida Department of Professional and Business Regulation business license requirements for your particular type of business and industry. Their Division of Regulation is the enforcement authority for 36 professions and related businesses regulated by the Department. It monitors those professions and related businesses to ensure that the laws, rules, and standards set by the Legislature are followed. They oversee Accounting Businesses, Alarm Systems, Asbestos Consultants, Asbestos Contractors, Athlete Agents, Auctioneers, Auctioneer Businesses, Barber Shops, Barbers, Building Code Administrators and Inspectors, Child Labor, Crematories, Certified Public Accountants, Construction Contractors, Construction Contracting Businesses, Community Association Managers, Cosmetologists, Cosmetology Salons, Contractors, Direct Disposers, Direct Disposer Establishments, Electrical Contractors, Embalmers, Employee Leasing, Farm Labor, Funeral Directors, Funeral Industry Facilities, Geologists, Geologist Businesses, Landscape Architects, Landscape Architect Businesses, Pilots (Harbor), Surveyors and Mappers, Surveyor and Mapper Businesses, Talent Agencies, Veterinarians, and Veterinarian Establishments.

The State of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs deals with registration and regulation of numerous businesses. Their Mission Statement describes their job as ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food and other consumer products; protecting consumers from unfair and deceptive business practices and providing consumer information; assisting Florida's farmers and agricultural industries with the production and promotion of agricultural products; and conserving and protecting the state's agricultural and natural resources. A review of their website on July 28, 2005 revealed the following list of business activities under their watch: Aerial Spraying, Aerobics, Agricultural Products, Aldicarb (Temik) Permits, Amusement Rides, Animal Brands, Antifreeze, Aquaculture Facilities and Leases, Aquatic Plants, Auto Repairs, Bakers, Beekeeping, Boll Weevils, Bottled Gas, Bottled Water, Brucellosis Certification, Brake Fluid, Botany, Business Opportunities, Butterflies, Carcass Haulers, Charities, Citrus Budwood, Citrus Sellers, Clams, Concealed Weapons, Convenience Stores, Crop Dusters, Dairy, Dancing, Desserts, Earth Worms, Entomology, Exporting, Fair Rides and Permits, Feed, Fertilizer, Firearms, Fish Farms, Flowers, Food Manufacturers and Processers, Food Stores, Franchising, Fruit Flies, Fruit Shippers, Fuel, Fund Raising, Game Promotion, Garbage Feeding, Gas Appliances, Gas Stations, Grocery Stores, Health Clubs and Studios, Horse Breeders and Horse, Ice, Ice Cream, Insects, Landscaping, Livestock Dealers, LP Gas Marketing, Marks & Brands, Meat, Milk, Milkfat, Tester's Programs, Motor Vehicle Repairs, Motorcycles, Movers, Mussels, Nematodes, Noxious Weeds, Nurseries, Oil, Organic Farming, Oysters, Pathogens, Pawnshops, Pest Control and Pesticide, Pets, Phone Calls, Pigs, Plant Seeds, Plants, Private Investigator and Investigative Agencies, Propane, Ranching/Horse Raising, Recovery/Repossessors, Recovery Agencies, Shellfish, Seafood, Security Officers, Security Agencies, Spiders, Seed, Super Markets, Telemarketing, Temik (Aldicarb) Permits, Tours and Travel, Trees, Tropical Fish, Veterinarians, Vended Water, Water, and Weeds.

Make sure the work you intend to do is permitted where you intend to do it by your municipal zoning regulations and/or subdivision restrictions especially if you intend to work out of your home on either a part-time or a full-time basis. In addition, if you lease your home, you should check the lease for Aresidential purposes only provisions.

Employment law is immensely regulated. Consider the following list of concerns. Their detail is too great and too often changed to supply the detail here.

You should be aware of government employment requirements. VolkLaw can help you understand your business's obligations. The following are examples of laws regulating employment.

I. Federal:

  1. The Fair Labor Standards Act
  2. Davis Bacon and Related Acts
  3. Walsh Healey Public Contracts Act
  4. Service Contract Act
  5. Contract Work Hours and Safety Standards Act
  6. Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act
  7. Wage Garnishment Law
  8. Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  9. Family and Medical Leave Act
  10. Immigration and Nationality Act
  11. Age Discrimination in Employment Act
  12. Americans with Disabilities Act
  13. National Labor Relations Act and Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act
  14. Occupational Safety and Health Act (“OSHA”). OSHA is the act that established the mechanism for establishing and enforcing safety regulations in the workplace. It applies to all employers who are engaged in an industry affecting commerce, regardless of the number of employees.
  15. Worker Adjustment Retraining and Notification Act
  16. Immigration Reform and Control Act
  17. Federal Employee Benefits Regulations
  • (a) Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 ("ERISA").
  • (b) Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (20) State Labor and Employment Considerations

II. State of Florida

  1. Florida Civil Rights Act
  2. Florida Minimum Wage Act
  3. Whistleblower Laws
  4. Florida Worker’s Compensation Anti-Retaliation Provision
  5. Florida Noncompete Statute
  6. Preservation and Protection of Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Motor Vehicles Act

You are normal if you are thinking, 'yuck: how am I supposed to know all that stuff and comply with it?'

In cases involving government contracts, if the government makes a decision that you do not agree with or that you think is incorrect, there are alternatives available. Contractors can protest awards. Generally speaking, you have the right to “protest” the award of a contract to another bidder or a defective bid; you have the right to “dispute” a disagreement or an issue with the contracting officer that may arise after you have already won and been awarded the contract. There are also other possible options as well. Again, knowing your rights as a bidder and contractor routinely means interpreting the law and the request for proposal and subsequent contract.

It should be obvious that time is of the essence when a governmental protest or dispute is at hand. For instance, if a protest is not filed in time, you will not succeed regardless of the reason for protest.

Government contractors have the right to dispute material issues or disagreements relating to a contract. This can include claims like a written demand or declaration by one of the contracting parties either seeking the payment of money, the interpretation or adjustment of contract terms such as the period of performance, or any other relief relating to or arising under the contract. An invoice, voucher, or other routine request for equitable adjustment or payment that is not in dispute when submitted is not considered a claim. However, a submission can be converted to a claim if it is not acted upon in a reasonable amount of time, or by written notice to the contracting officer if it is disputed either as to amount or liability.

There are many different issues that contractors dispute, including, but not limited to changing delivery dates, defective specifications, failure on the government’s part to supply the contractor with what is necessary to fulfill the contract, or any other occurrence that might prevent the contractor from being able to perform the contract or complete it. Out of court conflict resolution options can be utilized before more extreme measures are taken.

TIME IS CRUCIAL. If you have problems or concerns in this area of the law, VolkLaw can help.

The matters discussed here are general in nature and are not to be relied upon as legal advice. Every specific legal matter requires specific legal attention. The law is constantly changing and matters discussed today may not be the same tomorrow. Legal matters are also subject to different interpretations by attorneys, judges, jurors and scholars. No attorney-client relationship is intended or created as a result of matters discussed here. You should consult counsel of your choice if you have any dealings in these areas of the law. Volk Law Offices, P.A. and its attorneys make no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the matters addressed.