Your employer cannot fire you for certain reasons, even if you work at-will. It is legal for employers to fire employees because they do not like them, are making room for more qualified workers, or are cutting overhead. And it is legal for employees to quit because they found better jobs. However, your employment status is protected by federal and state laws that make discrimination, retaliation, violation of public policy, and harassment unlawful.
If you have an employment contract and are fired contrary to its terms, you may have an actionable cause for compensation from your employer. A contract could be implied if terminations are explained in an employee handbook. If you suspect your employer fired you unlawfully, a seasoned employment attorney can review the circumstances and determine if you have grounds for a Tampa wrongful termination case.
Employees cannot be fired for discriminatory reasons under federal law based on their:
Florida adds marital status to the list, according to Florida Statutes 760.07, part of the Florida Civil Rights Act.
Not all Florida employers must adhere to anti-discrimination laws. Generally, companies are exempt if they employ fewer than 15 employees—except for age discrimination, citizenship status, and equal pay. The company must employ 20 or more workers to prevail in an age discrimination complaint. Employers with four or more employees are subject to citizenship status discrimination. However, all employers must pay women and men equally.
Florida’s anti-discrimination laws apply to all companies with at least 15 employees.
Retaliation for Discrimination
Employers are not permitted to fire employees who complain they or others are discriminated against or harassed. Wrongfully terminating an employee for complaining internally or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is retaliation and can also be the base for a lawsuit against the employer. If you believe your termination was based on discrimination, a qualified Tampa attorney like Mitchell Feldman could evaluate your case, file a regulatory agency complaint, or sue your employer with grounds for a wrongful termination case.
Other Retaliation and Whistleblowing
When an employee complains to a regulatory agency that an employer is engaging in a fraudulent, illegal, or dangerous activity, they are protected from termination through state and federal whistleblower laws. If they are terminated as retaliation, they have the grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. For example, if an employer is not paying overtime or is dumping toxic chemicals into Tampa Bay, employees have the right to file complaints and keep their jobs.
Public Policy Violations
Employees may be able to sue employers who fire them for reporting public policy violations, that is, acts that society would deem fair. You may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit in Tampa if you are fired for:
- Refusing to help an employer break the law
- Exercising a legal right such as serving on a jury
- Taking family leave to give birth
- Giving damning but truthful testimony in court about an employer
Many claims can be related. You probably have a wage and hour claim if you were fired and cheated out of commissions or bonuses you already earned. However, this behavior also violates public policy and the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Our experienced attorneys are aggressive fighters who will not stop until we rectify the wrongs done to you by an employer who wrongfully terminated you.
Discuss Grounds for an Unlawful Termination Case With a Tampa Attorney
Do not think if you are fired you have no recourse because Florida is an at-will state. There are plenty of grounds to file regulatory complaints and lawsuits, whether you are at-will or working under contract. At Feldman Legal Group, we know them all, and if we determine you have grounds to file a complaint or lawsuit, we will fight for the justice you deserve.
All circumstances surrounding employment termination are unique. We can advise you quickly after we talk with you. Whether your employer discriminated, retaliated, harassed, or violated public policy or an employment contract, we can identify grounds for a Tampa wrongful termination case and fight for your rights.