In Florida, we have “at-will” employment. The relationship between the employer and employee can be terminated or altered at any time at the employer’s discretion. They don’t need to cite a reason to fire, demote, or decrease the amount of your pay.
Despite that, federal and state laws prohibit your employers from doing any of those things mentioned above if they violate your rights. For example, at-will employment doesn’t allow an employer to terminate you because of your sexual orientation, gender, race, or religious preference.
Then how are you supposed to protect yourself? In other words, can an employer violate your rights as an employee and then hide behind the at-will employment arrangement you have?
No, they cannot. But it will take effort from you and your attorney to prove otherwise.
What To Protect Yourself From
As an employee, you have rights. And you can exercise those rights without fear of retaliation. This extends to filing for worker’s compensation, utilizing the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA), refusing to partake in illegal activity, standing up to discrimination, or filing a complaint with human resources.
How To Protect Yourself
The lines can blur quickly. An abrupt termination could just as easily be a shift in policy as it could be retaliation for you exercising your rights. What it comes down to is documenting the actions that led up to you being terminated or demoted.
Your attorney will likely want to see the chain of events that led to the employer’s reaction. If you have worked there for five years without incident and then are let go due to the company restructuring, it may be challenging to prove that the employer’s actions aren’t within the scope of an at-will employment relationship.
On the other hand, if the action comes on the steps of you filing a complaint with human resources, your attorney may be in a position to create an argument for retaliation. That is why it is so important to document each action. In the previous example, something was submitted to human resources. Then the next step is to document the aftermath. How were you treated after you filed a complaint? Were you excluded from meetings? Was your pay reduced? These are the things you can bring to an attorney. Allow him to build an argument and protect your rights.
Feldman Legal Group
If you are an employee who has been mistreated because you have legally exercised your rights, contact the Feldman Legal Group to talk to one of our attorneys. An at-will employment relationship does not mean you have no rights or must face retaliation. If those get violated, turn to a lawyer who will represent and fight for them on your behalf.