We all fall ill eventually. Many private employers include vacation weeks and sick days in their benefit packages to stay competitive. However, in Florida, sick days are not a protected right, and employers are not legally bound to offer them unless you qualify under federal law. If you work in the public sector as a teacher, for instance, you do have sick leave rights in Florida because the state has adopted them uniformly for government workers.

So, both private and public sector employees may have recourse if they are fired for being sick, just under different rules. The best place to begin is to read your employee handbook to understand how much sick time your employer offers and how to claim it. If you are unsure of your rights, a knowledgeable employment lawyer can discuss how what happened to you might be wrongful termination for sick leave in Tampa. Schedule your consultation with an experienced wrongful termination attorney at our firm now.

Florida Is Business Friendly, Favoring Employers

Although Florida state law does protect some employee rights, unless workers are discriminated against for being a protected class, they work according to the whim of their employers, an arrangement called ‘at will’. Employers can fire them for some or no reason, including if they are sick and take time off that is not approved.

Executives, managers, and key employees bound by employment agreements are generally salaried with a benefits package that supersedes at-will employment and almost always bestows a certain number of sick days. Still, employers in Tampa often find ways to divest themselves of those they believe are too ill to carry their weight. The key to fighting back is knowing your rights under federal law.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

In Florida, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) creates limited rights for employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave in a 12-month period. The added benefit for employees is that employers cannot fire or demote them if they qualify for the leave. Employers must hold employees’ positions open in anticipation of their return. Approved reasons employees can take advantage of the FMLA include:

  • The employee is suffering from a serious health condition
  • The employee needs time to care for an ill family member
  • The employee is a new parent and deserving of time caring for a newborn
  • The employee can take up to 26 weeks of unpaid leave to care for an injured or ill service member

Private employers with fewer than 50 employees are not subject to the FMLA rules. Still, most employers must comply by holding an employee’s position open, which means the same role in the company, with the same duties, pay, and benefits. Talk to a seasoned Tampa lawyer at Feldman Legal Group about a suspected wrongful termination for sick leave.

The Americans with Disabilities Act

Employees may also be eligible for protection under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Employers must try to accommodate employees if they request it after being disabled from an illness or injury. Employees may or may not be compensated for time spent keeping medical appointments. Still, if an employee requests a consideration, such as working from home while recovering from a disabling condition, it may be covered under the ADA.

Let Our Tampa Attorneys Assess Your Wrongful Termination for Sick Leave

Florida has no statewide policy concerning sick leave, except for what has been negotiated for government employees like public school teachers. Private employers are not legally bound to offer sick leave—and if you take time off without following your company’s handbook—your employer can dismiss you. We can help you navigate this practice, and if it is unfair under federal law, we will right the wrong.

As an employee, you may be able to rely on federal protection for taking a leave because of your illness, condition, incurred disability, or the need to care for another. Do not just shrug and accept your employer’s decision to fire you because you became ill or infirm. Our dedicated attorneys can advise you about wrongful termination for sick leave in Tampa.