Employees in Florida Have Rights
Can you get terminated without cause in Florida? Generally, the answer is yes, but sometimes exceptions do apply.
Employment laws in Florida provide a broad range of protections to individuals working in the state — including discrimination, wage and overtime, and wrongful termination. If you believe your rights as provided by law have been violated, you should contact an experienced Florida employment attorney. This professional can review the circumstances surrounding your situation and help determine the validity of your case, as well as if and how to move forward.
Losing your job is devastating. If you are like most people, your work has a place of prime importance in your life. In addition to providing a source of income, employment can contribute to self-esteem, status, even your social life. When you are unexpectedly fired from your job, it can be a significant blow, especially if the reason is unclear or suspect. If you think you were given termination without cause, it’s important to recognize your rights. Working with an employment lawyer can help you better understand your situation as well as determine any possible legal recourse.
Understanding Wrongful Termination in Florida
What Does It Mean to be Terminated Without Cause?
Without a doubt, employers often have very valid reasons for terminating the service of some of the people who work for them. These can include, but are not limited to:
- Poor Performance
- Attendance Issues (not showing up/being late/leaving early)
- Discriminatory Behavior (sexual harassment)
- Use of Drugs or Alcohol (during work hours).
Florida is what is known as an “at-will” state. This means that you can be let go for any of the above reasons or for practically any reason. Your employer does not owe you an explanation.
Dismissal from your employment position without cause means you were fired for no apparent reason that you can see. You know you have been a dependable employee and your job performance was adequate or better. It seems you were let go simply because your boss didn’t particularly care for you.
Can My Employment Be Terminated Without Reason?
Unfortunately, the answer to the question “is termination without cause legal in Florida?” is usually yes. In many cases, you could actually say that unprovoked termination is legal.
Your employer does not have to provide just cause for dismissing you and does not have to give advanced notice that you will be terminated.
However, if you signed a contract providing specific terms of continuing employment, termination without cause may be unacceptable. And there are specific federal laws in place that protect employees from dismissal in specific circumstances. An employer who breaks these laws may be guilty of wrongful termination.
When is Termination Wrongful?
When Federal Employment Laws Are Violated
Employers in Florida must abide by a host of federal employment laws which are enforced by The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition to setting minimum wage and overtime rules, establishing workers’ compensation benefits, and others, they also provide protection for employees in the state (and across the country) regarding discrimination based on:
- Sex (which includes sexual orientation/gender identity)
- National Origin
- Disability (including pregnancy)
- Family Medical History/Genetics
Federal laws prohibit discrimination, harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. In some cases, dismissal without cause is related to one of these factors.
Every employee should have a basic understanding of employment law and be prepared to seek legal assistance if his or her rights have been violated. If you were fired for reasons related to any of these, your termination without cause may be illegal and you may be entitled to recourse.
Termination Without Cause Examples
Businesses and industries are powerful. Thus, many employment laws were created to protect employees from unfair practices. Processes are in place for reporting infractions for issues including discrimination and harassment.
If an employee complains about violations of their rights under these laws and then is fired for making the complaint, this is known as retaliation and is illegal under the law. You cannot be fired for addressing these issues either with management within the company or with the outside agencies that enforce them.
Some of the most important employment laws are in place to ensure safety. Unfortunately, many companies place profits ahead of safety and fail to abide by these laws. Thus, workers often operate in conditions that are clearly unsatisfactory and very dangerous. Many employees have been illegally fired in retaliation for making a formal or informal claim about unjust or unsafe working conditions. In some situations, this is known as whistleblowing. As defined by the EEOC and U.S. Department of Labor, dismissal as a form of retaliation is likely to be considered wrongful termination.
Examples of retaliation-based termination include employees who were dismissed after:
- Making a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim (or an appeal of a claim denied)
- Reporting a complaint regarding workplace safety concerns to management or OSHA
- Registering complaints about illegal wage and hour practices.
These behaviors and actions are protected by law. You cannot legally be fired for them.
As mentioned earlier, the federal employment laws that are defined by the EEOC are upheld in Florida. If the reason for your dismissal is because of your race, age, gender, etc., you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. Below are examples of wrongful termination based on discrimination.
- A woman who is dismissed soon after revealing her pregnancy
- An employee who is treated differently from workers of another race, experiencing racially-based harassment leading to termination
- Senior workers who are “laid off” and replaced by younger employees
- A worker being fired for “excessive absences” after taking necessary time off for medical treatment
- An employee let go because he or she spurned a coworker’s sexual advances.
Should you find yourself in this position, contact a Florida employment attorney for advice and counsel.
Breach of Contract Examples
Quite often, when an individual accepts a job at a new organization, he or she will sign an employment contract. These legal documents detail information including salary, benefits, confidentiality agreements, vacation, working hours, start date, and evaluation criteria, among other things. At times, they will also discuss the length of service. If you have a written contract that dictates dates or length of service and you are fired from your job prior to the date or time identified, you may be able to sue for wrongful termination. Be advised, because of the way Florida law is structured, your employment contract must be in writing in order for it to be upheld in this regard.
Do You Believe You Were Wrongfully Terminated Without Cause?
Seek Legal Help Today
Were you given termination without cause? If so, take a moment and review your situation. Should any of the above-described circumstances or something similar apply to your situation, you may have a case for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
In this instance, working with an experienced and reputable attorney is a wise choice. These professionals can review what happened, assess the facts, and let you know if you were, in fact, the victim of wrongful termination.
The attorneys at Feldman Legal Group have extensive legal experience in employment law in the State of Florida. If they determine your rights were abused, they can help you file suit to obtain appropriate damages, which may include, among other things, back pay and lost benefits. While Florida is an at-will state, termination in many cases may still be against the law. Contact the firm today at 877-946-8293 to schedule a consultation.