HOLDING EMPLOYERS ACCOUNTABLE SINCE 1985
If you have an employment issue, we can help. For more than 30 years, Fortune Law Offices has represented clients from every walk of life. While Scott’s clients consist mostly of financial professionals, medical doctors, C-Suite professionals, and Human Resources professionals, he has also represented upper- and mid-level managers, supervisors, and hourly workers — in every industry and profession. Whether your issue involves a termination, a forced resignation, a layoff, a downsizing, a reduction in force, a reorganization, an actual or de facto demotion, an employment contract, a non-compete, a severance package, or any other matter involving your employment, we can help.
LET US REVIEW YOUR CASE
SCOTT THOMAS FORTUNE
Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law
Scott Fortune is Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law and is also a Certified Civil Mediator. Since 1985, Scott has represented more than 1,000 employees as plaintiffs in employment discrimination cases in addition to dozens of plaintiffs in personal injury cases. While most of his clients are high- and mid‑level managers, he has also represented men and women from virtually every occupation in public and private industry.
AREAS OF PRACTICE
Scott has obtained jury verdicts in favor of his clients on scores of occasions in state and federal courts since 1985. He has settled hundreds of other cases without the necessity or risk of trial. In 1986, Scott obtained the first reported multi-million dollar jury verdict ($3.3 million) in the United States on behalf of a single employment discrimination victim in Vance v. Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co., which went to trial here in Jacksonville, in federal court. More recently, during the past few years, Scott and his staff have made recoveries totaling several million dollars on behalf of his clients.
Scott has a reputation for being tenacious and creative while advocating for his clients. He is rated “AV” by his peers, which is the highest rating an attorney can receive concerning ethics and legal ability. He is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, in several federal courts, and all courts in the State of Florida. For nearly twenty years, Scott taught trial skills to other lawyers from around the country, as a faculty member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. He is also certified as a mediator by the Florida Supreme Court. Scott is also a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association, The Florida Bar, and the Jacksonville Bar Association. He is currently co-chair of the Jacksonville Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Committee.
Scott usually represents no more than 10-15 individuals at a time to ensure that he can be personally involved in every case. Naturally, there is no guarantee that Scott or his firm can make any specific recovery in any particular case. Each case must be evaluated based on its own unique facts and circumstances.
In 2017, Scott helped his client recover half a million dollars after his client’s employer failed to pay the full amount of incentive compensation it had agreed earlier in the year to pay him. After Scott’s client had made a multi-million dollar sale, the multi-national employer reneged on its agreement to pay a commission equal to a flat percentage of the total sale amount, arbitrarily “capping” the payout at several hundred thousand dollars. The employer’s position was that the written agreement governing incentive pay was not a “binding contract.” Scott was able to help his client recover an additional $500,000 without having to file suit.
Scott has obtained recoveries of several hundred thousand dollars each on behalf of employees who were terminated after reporting dangerous or illegal conditions at their places of employment. In 2015 Scott obtained nearly $400,000 on behalf of a mechanic who was fired after reporting dangerous workplace conditions to OSHA.
In the employment law field, Scott has worked with officer-level managers since 1985, and has represented employees who have been discriminated against due to their age, gender, race, disability, national origin or religion. Based on his experience and after passing a comprehensive written examination administered by the Florida Bar, Scott is Board Certified by the Florida Supreme court in the specialty of Labor and Employment Law. He prevailed in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of a client whose jury verdict had been overturned on appeal. Scott has decades of experience representing men and women who have been terminated or punished in some way because of a chronic health condition; sudden or expensive medical bills; because they suffered a valid workers’ compensation injury; or because they objected to or refused to go along with any illegal activity by their employers.
Scott and his team recently represented a woman who had been fired from her clerical position with a national trucking firm after her husband, who was an insured on her employer-provided health insurance policy, had incurred nearly one million dollars in medical bills. Scott was able to secure a neutral reference and five year’s pay for his client.
Scott obtained a settlement of approximately $400,000 on behalf of a wrongfully terminated warehouse worker making approximately $12 per hour. Scott’s client was “downsized” in a reduction in force less than a month after his wife was diagnosed with cancer. Scott alleged that the employer had fired his client in order to avoid paying for his wife’s medical treatment, which was expected to be very expensive.
Scott and his client won an age discrimination case in federal court on behalf of a 62-year-old crane operator who was laid-off due to an alleged lack of work, and was replaced a few months later by a much younger operator. In addition to his client’s age, the employer was motivated to fire him due to the fact that his client’s wife had expensive medical conditions which had been paid for by the client’s employer. Mr. Fortune’s client recovered nearly $900,000.00 at trial, including attorneys’ fees and costs.
In 2017 and 2018, Scott and his firm have represented, or are representing several employees with disability claims under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA), and the Florida Civil Rights Act. In 2018, Scott is representing the former President and CEO of a large financial firm who was wrongly terminated after nearly 20 years of employment, within weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
Scott has represented men and women who have been denied promotions due to their gender, their race or their disability, and based on other protected categories. He tried a case in federal court in Jacksonville on behalf of a black grocery store “Assistant” Manager who had been performing the duties of a Store Manager, but without the title, prestige or pay of a Store Manager. The jury awarded a six-figure amount for mental anguish and back pay, and the store was required to promote Scott’s client to the Store Manager position. In 2018, Scott represented a client of Asian Indian origin who was denied equal pay and an equal management title, despite the fact that he was performing the work of his “white” peers in a highly commendatory manner. Scott’s client was terminated during a so-called “reduction in force” shortly after asking to be treated equally with respect to his title and compensation.
In 2017, Scott represented a group of female financial professionals who were paid substantially less than their male counterparts for performing similar work, but with different job titles. Scott and his clients reached a settlement which provided his clients with a substantial lump sum to compensate them for the gender-based differences in their pay during the past several years, plus attorneys’ fees, and his clients also received substantial pay increases to put them on parity with their male counterparts. Scott recently represented a female HR Manger with a national accounting firm who was treated less favorably than her male counterparts, as well as being paid less than them. Scott’s client was excluded from many management meetings and received smaller salary and bonuses than her male peers. Scott’s client was able to have her pay and bonuses increased, with back pay to make up for her past salary and bonuses, and she has since been promoted.
The law prohibiting this type of harassment can include demeaning treatment which is not of a “sexual” nature. For example, the law could protect a woman who is treated disrespectfully by a boss who shows favoritism toward male employees; or a gay man who is ridiculed because of his sexual orientation. Scott has represented many men and women who have been harassed due to their gender or sexual orientation, as well as those who have been sexually harassed and those who have been made to endure continuous, sexually inappropriate advances.
Scott has represented hundreds of executives, mid-level managers, physicians, banking executives, sales persons, and others who have been terminated and offered a proposed severance agreement in exchange for signing a Release of Claims. Often, Scott has assisted his clients in obtaining more favorable severance terms, including greater lump sum payments, extended periodic payments, greater deferred compensation, extended benefits, and the like. Recently, Scott helped a terminated CEO recover more than $900,000 after he had been abruptly terminated without any severance. The employer initially had attempted to coerce Scott’s client into accepting only a tiny fraction of the severance amount provided in his written employment agreement, and then declined to pay him anything when Scott’s client refused to buckle under.
During the past three decades, Scott has negotiated scores of severance packages on behalf of executives and others, and has helped many men and women obtain favorable employment contracts. He also has helped numerous employees negotiate challenges involving non-compete agreements.
Scott has assisted hundreds of executives, mid-level managers, sales persons and others who plan to enter into contracts with their employers. Persons about to sign contracts often benefit from experienced legal guidance to minimize the risk of undesirable consequences, and to help ensure that the terms of their contract are fair and balanced, and to help ensure that the employee’s interests are adequately protected. In 2017, Scott assisted a high-level financial executive who had been terminated unexpectedly in the middle of his contract term. Scott’s client was earning approximately $400,000 annually and had also invested several hundred thousand dollars in the company before he was fired. Without filing suit, Scott was able to ensure that his client received nearly $400,000 in severance pay and that his equity in the company was recognized and reimbursed. The employer also paid the bulk of Scott’s attorneys’ fees.
Scott has assisted employers in drafting employee handbooks, and he has assisted employees to help them understand and comply with the terms of their employee handbooks.
Scott frequently assists executives, mid-level managers, physicians, banking professionals, sales persons and others who have been terminated, or who have otherwise ended their employment and need to deal with a non-compete agreement. Often the non-compete agreements are at least partially invalid, or can be modified by negotiation. The goal, of course, is to allow the client to work as freely as possible without being unduly restricted by the non-compete agreement. In 2017, Scott assisted a high-level sales executive who had been earning in excess of $300,000 annually, who was terminated for alleged performance issues. Scott’s client had signed a two-year non-compete agreement with her employer which would have severely limited her re-employment options. Scott was able to negotiate a release from the non-compete agreement without having to file suit.
This is as very active area of the law. Unfortunately, employers often retaliate against employees who have used FMLA leave, or they interfere with an employee’s plans to use FMLA leave. Scott has represented dozens of clients who have recovered hundreds of thousands of dollars at trial or during mediation because their employers violated the FMLA when disciplining or terminating them. Employers also often fail to promote, or otherwise punish employees who have used, or who need, FMLA coverage. In 2018, Scott is pursuing several cases involving employees who were fired while out on FMLA leave, or who were fired shortly after returning from FMLA leave. In each case, the employer claimed that the termination was due to factors other than the employees’ leave. These cases often overlap with the ADAAA. For example, in 2018 Scott is representing a medical professional who was fired after suffering a severe concussion while away from work. Scott’s client was not allowed to take FMLA leave to recover from the effects of his concussion, nor was any effort made to accommodate his client’s temporary medical restrictions, as required by the ADAAA.
In April 2018, Scott and his co-counsel successfully appealed from an adverse trial ruling. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit reinstated Scott’s client’s FMLA case after the trial court erroneously threw it out.
Early in his legal career, Scott represented insured parties who were being sued for causing personal injury to others. This led to Scott representing personal injury clients when he began his own law practice in 1985. Since then, Scott has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients injured in automobile collisions, motorcycle wrecks, and other mishaps.
As a Certified Civil Mediator, Scott has assisted parties in resolving their legal claims involving business disagreements, employment matters, personal injury claims, construction claims, contract disputes, and other areas of the law. His ongoing work as a mediator makes him a better litigator and attorney, allowing him to serve as both a lawyer and a counselor to his clients. Scott’s work with plaintiffs and defendants makes him a better plaintiff’s advocate and a more effective litigator on behalf of his clients. Since 2016, Scott has mediated scores of cases in matters involving employment law, personal injury, insurance issues, business law, bankruptcy law, and other issues. He has helped local attorneys and their clients, as well as attorneys from around the Southeastern United States, to resolve their claims at mediation.