It’s one of those life-changing phrases that no one wants to hear: “You’re fired,” or “We’re letting you go.” Usually, you know why you’re being terminated, but sometimes there seems to be no legitimate cause. In that case, it’s reasonable to wonder…wait a minute, is this legal?
Many newly unemployed workers call our law firm to ask: “Can you be fired for no reason in Florida?” The answer to this question is yes – and no. It depends upon the employer, the particular circumstances, and whether or not the termination is in violation of federal or state laws.
“At Will” Employment
Almost all U.S. states, including Florida, adopt the common law “at will” employment rule, which means business owners are free to fire workers without obligation to show “just cause.” An employer can fire you if, for example, he or she wants to reduce payroll costs or believes another employee might do a better job. In most scenarios, the business owner is not obligated to give you advanced notice of your termination.
So…can you be fired for no reason in Florida? Yes. But, you cannot be fired if you have a signed employment contract protecting you from termination – and there are several other specific reasons for which your employer cannot legally let you go.
Wrongful Termination Employment Laws
Some companies try to hide behind the “at-will” rule to try to get away with firing an employee in violation of federal and state employment laws. If you believe any of the following were the actual reason behind your termination, you may have been unlawfully fired:
- Your race, color, or nationality – Racial bias must not be the underlying cause behind your dismissal.
- Your religion or religious practices – You cannot be dismissed because you pray (or don’t pray) at work.
- Your gender – An employer cannot decide the worksite would be better off with fewer male (or female) employees.
- You are pregnant – You can’t be let go for any reason related to your pregnancy (or need to nurse your baby).
- You are age 40 or over – A business owner must not target older workers for lay-offs or fire you for any cause related to your 40+ age.
- A disability or injury – If you are unable to perform your job duties because of a disabling condition, the employer must work to accommodate the issue rather than fire you. You also cannot be let go because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
- You complained about illegal discrimination, safety concerns, or wage and hour practices at work – Whistleblower laws protect you from retaliation for reporting workplace violations.
- You took time off work for a legally protected reason – You have the right to take family (FMLA) leave, military leave, or to miss work for jury duty.
It is important to note that in Florida these wrongful termination laws apply only to employers with 15 or more employees. (The risks of working for a very small business include the employer’s right to fire you anytime, no questions asked.)
Were You Fired for No Reason in Florida?
Dismissal from your job impacts your livelihood, self-esteem, and future employment prospects. If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, seek help today from the knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Feldman Williams.