When you go to work in the morning, you probably do not expect to lose your job; however, this is something that does happen to people from time to time. It’s one of those life-changing phrases that no one wants to hear. You might be told, “You’re fired,” or you might hear, “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? Can an employer fire you for no reason?
Many newly unemployed workers call our law firm to ask: “Can you be fired for no reason in FL?” The answer to this question is yes – and no. It depends upon the employer, the particular circumstances of your case, and whether or not the termination violates federal or state laws.
What do you need to know about the employment laws in Florida, and what should you do if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated?
“At Will” Employment
So, is Florida an at will state? 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 if he or she believes another employee might do a better job. In most scenarios, the business owner is not obligated to give you advance 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.
If you did not sign an employment contract specifying what you can (and cannot) be fired for, then an employer might be able to let you go at any time without giving you a reason. On the other hand, if you have signed a contract that protects you against this type of termination, you may have been wrongfully terminated.
Wrongful Termination 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. Just because an “at-will” state gives the employer a tremendous amount of leeway to let you go doesn’t mean you can be fired for any reason, particularly if you have signed a contract.
A few of the most common examples of wrongful termination include:
- Your race, color, or nationality – Racial bias must not be the underlying cause behind your dismissal. An employer cannot fire you based on race.
- Your religion or religious practices – You cannot be dismissed because you pray (or don’t pray) at work. An employer cannot fire you based on religion.
- Your gender — An employer cannot decide whether the worksite would be better off with fewer male (or female) employees. Your employer cannot fire you based on your gender.
- You are pregnant – You can’t be let go for any reason related to your pregnancy (or need to nurse your baby).
- You are 40 years of age or older – A business owner must not target older workers for layoffs or fire you for any cause related to your 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. If you work for a very small business, you might not have the same level of protection.
What Should You Do if You Were Fired?
If you have been fired, make sure you get documentation from the employer clearly specifying why you have been fired. You should have a right to understand why you are being let go.
Then, make sure you do not retaliate against the employer in any way. If you want to claim wrongful termination, you cannot give the employer a reason to fire you, even if he or she has already done so.
Once you have this type of documentation, do not say anything else to the employer. You should bring that documentation for us for a case consultation. We would be happy to review your situation to see if you are entitled to any protection under the laws in Florida.
Were You Fired for No Reason in Florida?
Dismissal from your job impacts your livelihood, self-esteem, and future employment prospects. It can be frustrating if you have been fired or laid off, but it can be even more frustrating if you feel like you have been terminated wrongfully.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, seek help today from the knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Feldman Legal Group. Our top priority is to make sure your rights have been adequately protected, so give us a call today at (813) 639-9366.