Companies in Florida can fire their employees based on any grounds they choose. A company can terminate an employee without any cause and still comply with the state’s at-will employment laws. However, there are specific instances in which firing an employee is considered illegal and may leave that company open to a wrongful termination lawsuit.

When you believe you may have been fired illegally, you need to understand the common causes of wrongful termination in Tampa and these key exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine. You should also speak with a qualified attorney at Feldman Legal Group who can delve deeper into the chain of events that led to your termination and explain your best legal options.

Common Causes & Examples of Wrongful Termination

The at-employment laws in the state of Florida mean that Tampa employers have considerable latitude to fire or lay off an employee without being liable for wrongful termination. However, state and federal laws prevent employers from terminating employment—regardless of at-will requirements—based on certain conditions. In other words, if an employer fires an employee for any of these prohibited reasons, the employer may be liable for damages in a wrongful termination lawsuit. These prohibited reasons include:

  • Reporting illegal activities
  • Reporting labor violations
  • Taking family or medical leave
  • Reporting hazardous or dangerous working conditions
  • Retaliation for the employee filing a workers’ compensation claim

Employers may not terminate an individual’s employment for a discriminatory reason (i.e., race, religion, disability, national origin, age, pregnancy, marital status) or terminate an individual’s employment after they reported discriminatory practices or refused to engage in discriminatory practices. Any such actions would constitute wrongful termination.

In addition to firing someone for an illegal reason, other frequent causes of wrongful termination in Tampa are breach of contract and violation of collective bargaining agreements. At-will laws do not generally apply to individuals employed under an employment contract or collective bargaining agreements because the standard for termination of employment is good cause. The definition of what constitutes good cause can be very vague depending on the contract in question, so even if an employee is fired or loses their job under these circumstances, they should still speak with a lawyer to assess potential legal options.

Pursuing Damages in a Wrongful Termination Case

If a Tampa employee is subjected to any of the common causes of wrongful termination listed above, they may have grounds to file a civil lawsuit seeking monetary damages. The value of these damages depends on numerous factors specific to the facts and circumstances of an alleged wrongful firing, such as:

  • The reasons for the termination
  • The scope of the evidence available
  • The individual’s income before they were terminated
  • Whether or not the basis of the termination was discriminatory
  • The duration of the individual’s unemployment following the termination
  • The extent to which the termination has affected the individual’s professional reputation

A compensation award can reflect the value of the individual’s economic and non-economic losses resulting from the wrongful termination. Monetary damages could include measurable losses like past and future lost wages, while non-economic damages could include the pain, suffering, and emotional anguish resulting from the wrongful firing. In more unusual cases, punitive damages may be included in a final award of damages. Restitution and reinstatement may also be legal remedies in a successful wrongful termination case.

Important Filing Deadlines and Potential Legal Roadblocks

Understand that time limits apply to start a wrongful termination case in Tampa. The exact deadlines will depend on the underlying basis of the claim and the entity or entities involved. These claims can involve multiple entities, including the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR). For example, many wrongful termination cases involving the EEOC have a 180-day filing deadline following the termination date. However, in cases where the reason for termination was a civil rights violation, the deadline can be extended to 300 days.

Depending on the reason for the termination, the EEOC may also need to issue a notice of right to sue before the employee can file a lawsuit against the employer in federal court, after which there is another limited window to take legal action. These filing requirements and windows can be exceedingly complicated. Working with a proactive attorney like Mitchell Feldman from the earliest stages of a case is crucial to ensure compliance with all procedures and that the full scope of financial recovery options is fully exhausted.

Contact a Tampa Attorney for More Information on Common Causes of Wrongful Termination and How to File Suit

Mitchell Feldman has a long history of advocating for individuals who have been wrongfully terminated and need help asserting their legal rights. We understand that an unlawful firing can leave you facing significant financial worries, not to mention the emotional and psychological toll the experience can inflict.

Our team of skilled litigators regularly defends individuals who have lost their jobs due to common causes of wrongful termination in Tampa and otherwise unlawful actions by their employer. Both state and federal protections exist to protect you from illegal firing, and you may have a cause of action to pursue compensation if your employer violated these legal guardrails.

Do not hesitate to contact Feldman Legal Group today. We would be happy to discuss your case in a confidential, one-on-one legal consultation.