If you’ve been fired, laid off or terminated from your job, you may wonder if the action was illegal. In many cases, wrongful termination and discrimination or harassment goes hand-in-hand.
Like many other states, Florida is an at-will employment state. That means that Florida employees can be fired for any reason without warning, unless there is a written employment contract to the contrary. However, employers in the state must also follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state labor laws. Among other things, these laws protect employees from any form of discrimination, retaliation or harassment.
When an employee is fired from a job, it’s important for the employee to determine the exact cause of the termination. In many cases, it could be because of unfair treatment. When that happens, the employer has broken federal and state laws set in place to protect workers.
There are several ways employers break laws that are aimed at protecting workers:
- Discrimination — The FLSA mandates that it is illegal to discriminate against any employee based on gender, race, marital status, disability, religion, national origin or age. These are considered protected classes. In addition, it is illegal to fire, demote or terminate someone because of pregnancy. Although sexual orientation is not explicitly considered a protected class in Florida, many cities and counties statewide do provide some employment protection.
- Constructive Dismissal — If an employer makes working conditions so unbearable and the employee is forced to resign, it may be considered constructive dismissal or constructive termination. This is a form of discrimination and harassment.
- Retaliation for Whistle Blowing — If an employee blows the whistle on illegal or dangerous activities in the workplace, it is illegal for the employer to retaliate. Retaliation can mean a demotion, harassment or termination, among other things.
- Violation of Family or Medical Leave — The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows workers to take unpaid leave to care for themselves or sick family members. In most cases, this law guarantees the employee’s job security. If the employer disregards FMLA, there can be serious federal and state sanctions.
Other types of wrongful termination include the following:
- Violation of the state voting-leave laws.
- Violation of the rights granted by the United States Constitution.
- Dismissal from military service.
- Wage garnishment for a single debt.
Seek Help Now
While Florida does not recognize wrongful or illegal termination, there certainly are many ways an employer can violate an employee’s rights. With this, the employee has the right to file a federal and state complaint and file a lawsuit.
If you think you were wrongfully or illegally terminated from your job, contact us today for legal advice. In many cases, you have the right to bring a legal claim against your employer for remedies that could include getting your job back, lost wages and punitive damages. Even if you haven’t been terminated yet but fear you will be, our skilled labor attorneys can help you determine your next step.
Hurt at Work? We Can Help!
Call an attorney at the Law Offices of Franks, Koenig & Neuwelt for a free and confidential consultation today.