If you lost your job in a way that seems capricious, arbitrary or unfair, you may be wondering if you have a wrongful termination case. In reality, unless you work for a municipality, you are in a union, or you have an employment contract, your employment is more than likely "at will." This means your employer can fire you at any time and for any reason-or for no reason.
There are exceptions, however. Your employer cannot fire you for an illegal reason, such as discrimination based on your race, age, religion, pregnancy or other protected status.
Many "wrongful termination" cases are retaliation cases. The employee complained of unlawful behavior by the employer. In retaliation, the employer fired the employee. The following are examples of wrongful termination:
- Your employer fired you for raising a sexual harassment complaint
- Your employer fired you for taking Family or Medical Leave
- Your employer unfairly targeted employees for termination based on their protected status, such age if over 40, race, religion, or national origin
- Your employer fired you for being pregnant
- Your employer fired you for filing a workers' compensation claim or exercising another right of the workplace
One of the biggest misunderstandings people have about employment law is to think employers have to be fair. If your employment is at-will, your employer can fire you for reasons that are unfair, irrational, or even cruel. None of these things in themselves can form the basis for a wrongful termination claim. The termination is wrongful only if it meets one of the exceptions under federal or Florida law.
If you think you may have a wrongful termination claim, you should contact a qualified employment attorney who will be able to assess the merits of your claim and help you advance a viable claim.