Photo of Scott Atwood

From complex labor and employment counseling and litigation to general business matters, Scott has been representing the interests of entrepreneurs, public entities, and businesses of all sizes throughout the United States, including Florida and Georgia, for nearly 25 years.

More specifically, Scott has extensive experience in all aspects of employment law, including Title VII, ADA, ADEA, and Section 1983 discrimination, harassment, and retaliation matters, FMLA leaves issues, and FLSA and state law wage situations. He also assists his clients in whistleblower claims and non-compete, non-solicitation, trade secret, and contract disputes. With regard to general corporate matters, he prepares employment agreements, operating and shareholder agreements, restrictive covenant (non-compete, non-solicitation, confidentiality) agreements, and business contracts.

Scott also brings his expertise as a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator to facilitate a resolution as an alternative to lengthy and expensive litigation. As a member of the Executive Council of the Florida Bar's Labor and Employment Section, Scott is extremely active in helping formulate and implement legal policy on both the state and local level. He is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in Florida and Georgia, including U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Middle Districts of Florida.

Scott has been recognized as a Florida Super Lawyer in labor and employment law. Previously, he was recognized by Atlanta Super Lawyers as a Rising Star in labor and employment law. While attending law school, Scott was elected Editor-in-Chief of the Florida Journal of International Law and was awarded the President's Award for outstanding service to the University. He now serves on the College of Law's Alumni Council.

Scott has two children, Caroline and Laura. They both attended Fort Myers High School’s IB program, and Caroline is now attending Scott’s alma mater, Dartmouth. Scott is married to Kristalyn Loson Atwood, who is also an attorney. When not working, Scott enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, and watching New England sports.

Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual HarassmentEmployers who use arbitration agreements for employment disputes just had the scope of those agreements narrowed. On March 3, 2022, President Biden signed into law the Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act.

As the name of the Act implies, the new law prohibits employers from requiring that sexual harassment and sexual assault claims be arbitrated as part of a mandatory arbitration agreement of employment claims. The new law also overrides any terms of employment agreements that prohibit class actions for sexual harassment or sexual assault claims.

Finally, the law will have an immediate impact because it applies retroactively. This means that it invalidates any current arbitration agreement that an employee has signed to the extent that the claim is for sexual harassment or sexual assault. The only exception is for cases that are already pending or completed in arbitration.

Continue Reading New Law Prohibits Mandatory Arbitration of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Claims

COVID LawIn response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that stopped OSHA from enforcing its mandatory COVID vaccination Rule for large employers, OSHA announced on January 25, 2022, that it is withdrawing the Rule. OSHA introduced the Rule as an emergency temporary rule in October 2021. The Rule applied to all employers nationwide with 100 or more employees, with only extremely limited exceptions. It was set to go into effect in December 2021, but a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction prohibiting OSHA from implementing the Emergency Rule.

After procedural moves resulted in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals being assigned the case, a three-judge panel in late December 2021 lifted the injunction. That opened the door for OSHA to begin implementation of the Rule in early January 2022, with enforcement to begin in February 2022.

Instead, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the matter on an expedited basis, taking oral arguments on January 7, 2022. The following week, the Court reinstated the injunction and blocked OSHA from implementing the Rule while the matter was being decided on its merits in the courts. Taking its cue from the Supreme Court’s written decision reinstating the injunction, OSHA apparently concluded that its argument was unlikely to prevail before the lower courts. Hence the withdrawal of the Rule, effective Wednesday, January 26.

What’s next


Continue Reading OSHA COVID Rule for Large Employers Withdrawn

COVID LawAfter a protracted battle in the Courts, on January 13, 2022, the U.S Supreme Court effectively ended the Biden Administration’s efforts to mandate widespread COVID vaccinations for large employers. That day, the Court issued a stay of an OSHA emergency temporary regulation that required all employers nationwide that had 100 or more employees, regardless of industry, to implement a mandatory vaccination policy for their employees and verify that the employees were vaccinated.

The practical effect is that there will be no federal mandatory vaccination requirements for employers except for employers in the healthcare industry who receive Medicare/Medicaid funds.

What does this mean for health care providers?

healthcareFor those health care providers who receive Medicare/Medicaid funds, a 5-4 majority of the Supreme Court upheld (by refusing to issue a stay) a separate regulation that requires mandatory vaccinations for employees in that industry by February 28, 2022. Conservative Justices Roberts and Cavanaugh sided with the liberal Justices. They found that the rule was more focused since it was limited to the more traditionally regulated health care industry and thus was not the same expansive use of agency authority. Moreover, the limitation of the rule to providers that received federal funds was deemed relevant because the courts have been more relaxed in enforcing rules that basically are a condition of receipt of the government money.

Finally, there is some question whether some states (such as Florida) who generally enforce these regulations will enforce the rule. Politics, however, deem it unlikely that the Biden administration would give up enforcement if certain states don’t enforce the rule. In such cases, Florida health care providers should be cautious when making a decision to ignore the new rule.

The OSHA “Stay” Explained


Continue Reading What does the Supreme Court’s Order rejecting the OSHA Rule mean for employers?

Waitress in a maskIn keeping with his candidate promises, President Biden’s new appointees issued new COVID-19 regulations. Under the prior administration, the EEOC concluded an employer could require an employee to be vaccinated as a condition of employment. While subject to certain limitations, such as accommodations for medical conditions and religious objections, this was a significant win for employers as they tried to return to normalcy.

Lack of consistency among government agencies

The EEOC’s pronouncement was seen as giving employers the approval to encourage vaccination. BJ Zarvis of Pewter Mug restaurant, “I saw this information as a way to give me, my employees, and my customers some comfort knowing that they were coming to a safe place.”

But then OSHA, under the new Biden administration, announced that any employer that created a mandatory vaccination plan would be subject to OSHA reporting rules if there were any adverse effects from the vaccination. Any lost days would be reportable, which potentially subjects the employer to higher insurance rates and fines. “When I heard about OSHA’s position,” said Zarvis, “I decided it wasn’t worth it to make it mandatory.”

Luckily, OSHA’s position took considerable heat from the public, across the political spectrum, such that it finally announced it was rolling back its position and not making adverse effects from a mandatory vaccination program reportable. So employers like Zarvis can again consider the pros and cons of making vaccinations mandatory.

What is keeping employers from mandating vaccinations?


Continue Reading How are Florida employers keeping up with ever-changing vaccine requirements?

photo of HR Policies and ProceduresAs the nation begins the slow recovery from the COVID pandemic, businesses will start to return to some level of “normalcy.” But that normalcy will be in a vastly different governmental environment. During the Trump years, businesses benefited from the administration’s pro-business attitude. The Biden administration has made it clear it intends to adopt a pro-employee, pro-union stance. In its first 100 days, the administration has begun to set the pieces for its long-term goals.

What impact will the Equality Act, if passed, have on employers?

One of the more visible areas of change is coming in the civil rights arena. President Biden fired the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s general counsel in March when she refused to resign. The EEOC general counsel, who sets the tone for the number and types of cases the Commission pursues, had been relatively modest in her enforcement efforts during the Trump administration. That should be changing. One area that will likely be a red flag issue with the Biden-era EEOC is LGBTQ+ rights.

Continue Reading Employers need to pay attention to sexual orientation and gender identity protection policies

Regardless of who you supported in the recent Presidential election, one thing both candidates agreed on was that the Fair Labor Standards Act, or FLSA, is not going away. The FLSA is a Depression-era law that has seen relatively little change in nearly 90 years. It created a federal minimum wage and required that most employees be paid overtime of 1.5 times their regular hourly rate when an employee works more than 40 hours in a workweek. So why, after so many years, do employers regularly trip up on this law, sometimes costing them in the hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Common FLSA Misconceptions


Continue Reading When do employers need to pay overtime?

In one of the most significant Supreme Court cases for Florida employers in many years, the U.S. Supreme Court held by a 6-3 margin that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (commonly known as “Title VII”) protects gay and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace. In the anxiously anticipated decision, which is a consolidation of three cases, the Court held in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, that Title VII’s prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination because of an individual’s sexual orientation and gender identity. While the decision only addresses traditional claims of discrimination (plaintiffs were all fired from their jobs), employers should expect that the ruling will extend to claims of harassment as well. If you are a Florida employer, this decision likely means that you need to update, review, and discuss your employment policies with your employees.

New Protections

Until recently, the lower courts that had ruled on the issue routinely held that Title VII’s protections did not extend to discrimination against individuals who had adverse actions taken against them merely because they were gay or transgender. In fact, one of the consolidated cases came from the Eleventh Circuit, which had cited a long-standing lower court precedent in rejecting the claim of a gay male who was fired from his job in Georgia solely because his employer learned that he was gay. Florida is part of the Eleventh Circuit, and so gays were not protected under Title VII’s coverage in Florida until today.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Holds that Civil Rights Law Covers LGBT Employees

On March 24, 2020, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) issued the first guidance related to the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It answered a few questions of general interest, but a lot of questions that relate to small businesses (by that, I’m talking about businesses with under 50 employees) are still up in the air. The DOL further indicated that we should not hold our breath for any regulations before the enactment date. Instead, regulations are promised sometime in April.

New effective date

The biggest surprise was the DOL announcing that the law is now going to become effective on April 1 rather than April 2. Taking advantage of some flexible language in the Act, the DOL obviously decided that it made the most sense to make a pay-related law effective on the first day of most employers’ pay periods, rather than on the second day, which was likely to create payroll nightmares. So, April 1 it is.

Benefits are not retroactive


Continue Reading DOL’s Initial Families First Guidance Throws Some Curveballs; Effective Date Now April 1

We know business owners and HR professionals have questions and need answers quickly to rapidly changing laws concerning the coronavirus (“COVID-19”).

Grab a cup of coffee, login in and join me for a complimentary webinar on Monday morning, March 23, at 10:00 a.m., as I share information on:

  • Families First Coronavirus Response Act
  • Emergency Paid

It took a little longer than expected, but the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the “Act”) is now law. Initially expected to go before the Senate on Monday, the House bill met with much industry resistance. The House then made some “minor technical corrections” (if 75 pages of corrections is minor) on Monday before sending it to the Senate on Tuesday. On Wednesday, March 18, the Senate approved the Act 90-8 (two Senators, one of whom was Sen. Rick Scott, were missing from the vote — self-quarantined due to possible exposure) and the President signed the Act into law a few hours later.

The final Act differs quite a bit from the initial House bill. Below is a summary of the major provisions that apply to employers.

March 20, 2020 Update

On March 20, 2020, the U.S. Treasury Department, IRS, and the U.S. Department of Labor officially announced that small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of the two new refundable payroll tax credits immediately. This relief would allow these employers to be fully reimbursed, dollar-for-dollar for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.

The Act becomes effective April 2, 15 days from the date it was signed into law. There are two subsets of the Act:

  1. The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act; and
  2. The Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act.


Continue Reading President Signs Emergency Coronavirus (COVID-19) Employment Laws