If you think you were given termination without cause, it’s important to understand your rights.
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.
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.
Termination Without Cause – Is it Legal?
In many cases, unprovoked termination actually is legal, since Florida is an “at will” employment state. 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.
About Wrongful Termination
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.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces laws that protect employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, nationality, sex, religion, age (over 40), or disability (including pregnancy). If you were fired for reasons related to any of these factors, your termination without cause may be illegal.
Examples of a typical unlawful scenario would include:
- 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 fired for “excessive absences” after taking necessary time off for medical treatment
- An employee who is let go because he or she spurned a coworker’s sexual advancement.
Retaliation as a Cause
If an employee complains about discrimination or harassment and then is fired for making the complaint, this is illegal retaliation under the law. Many people are also illegally fired in retaliation for making a formal or informal claim about unjust or unsafe working conditions.
As defined by the EEOC and U.S. Department of Labor laws, dismissal as a form of retaliation is likely to be considered wrongful termination. Examples of retaliation-based termination include employees dismissed after …
- A complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination
- The filing of a workers’ compensation claim (or appeal of a claim denied)
- A complaint or report to OSHA about workplace safety concerns
- Complaints about illegal wage and hour practices.
Seek Legal Help
Were you given termination without cause? If any of the described circumstances apply, you may have an employment law case. The attorneys at Feldman Williams offer free case assessments and can tell you if you may, in fact, be the victim of wrongful termination.