Florida residents who lose their jobs often feel angry and upset. Many may wonder whether they have a legal claim against the employer who caused this emotional and financial upheaval.
Understanding the basics of Florida wrongful termination laws can help you figure out whether you can get legal recourse. Consulting an employment law attorney can provide further insight specific to your situation.
Florida is an at-will employment state. Generally, this means employers can let people go at any time and for any reason unless there is a law specifically prohibiting them from doing so. The law does not protect employees from very unreasonable or unfair behavior by the employer.
For a terminated employee to have a claim, the termination must stem from discrimination based on a protected category. Federal and Florida laws specifically list categories of people against whom employers may not discriminate.
Discrimination based on belonging to certain categories
The law affords protection against termination based on belonging to certain groups that tend to suffer from a high level of discrimination. Employers may not fire someone based on gender, race, family status, nationality, religion or disability. While Florida state law does not address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, local ordinances in some counties may provide protection based on these categories.
Retaliation against employees who act to uphold the law
The other major category of unlawful termination consists of firing employees in retaliation for reporting or refusing to participate in unlawful conduct. This can cover a wide range and includes employees who report safety violations, financial wrongdoing and unlawful discrimination.
Trying to avoid meeting obligations to employees
Likewise, employers may not fire someone for insisting on his or her legal rights. Employees should not face termination for taking legally protected medical leave, filing a workers' compensation claim, demanding minimum wage or insisting on receiving legally mandated overtime pay.
Federal and state employment discrimination claims each have their own fairly involved procedural process, including various statutes of limitations that curtail the time you have to file your claim. Speaking with an attorney promptly can help you avoid missing important deadlines.