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Florida At-Will Employment Rights When You Lose Your Job

If you are residing in Florida, I bet you must have heard about the At-Will employment rights that you have as a citizen when you lose your job as well as the benefits.

If you have, then relax and read through because in this article, we will enlighten you on everything that you need to know.

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Florida At-Will Employment

Florida is considered an “at-will employment” state, which means that its employers have the right to terminate as an employee  at any time and for any reason, and they don’t have to give advance notice. 

Similarly, Florida’s employees may quit a job at any time and for almost any reason, and they also don’t have to give notice of their impending departure. 

There are, however, some exceptions that exist to the at-will employment concept.

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Is Florida An “AT-WILL” State? 

Florida is an “at-will state. Also, its important to also understand what “at-will” means to know if it impacts your employment. 

In an “at-will” state, both you and your employer are presumed to be working of your own volition, “at will,” with no long-term contractual obligation to each other. 

So, If you decide you’d rather work at another job, you can leave your employer at any time and they cannot take action against you. 

You can be terminated without cause because, for instance, your employer wants to hire someone with more experience and typically you would have no legal recourse against them.

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So, if you signed a contract upon being hired, pull it out and review the document. There may be clauses regarding specific conditions under which you can be fired. If you are fired for a reason not identified in that contract, you may have a legal case against your employer. Termination for discriminatory reasons is illegal. 

You are protected by anti-discrimination laws if you were fired because of your race, gender, disability, or pregnancy, for example. There are other instances of workplace discrimination that can impact the wrongful termination of employees which we will outline below.

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Wrongful Termination in Florida

The term refers to the firing of an employee for an unjust or unlawful reason. 

For example, if your employer tries to terminate an employee who is under an employment contract can be sued for breach of contract, which is one type of wrongful termination. 

So, as an employer, you need to fully understand both areas to avoid being sued for wrongful termination in a court of law.

Below are the considered exceptions to this doctrine of wrongful termination in Florida.

Firstly, Florida employers cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons or for reasons that infringe on a protected right. For example, they cannot terminate an employee based on religious preference, color, country or origin, disability or race. 

Secondly, Florida’s employers cannot terminate employees when employment contracts with definitive terms which comprises the beginning as well as the ending day of the contract.

Thirdly, Florida employers are not allowed to fire employees for retaliatory purposes, meaning they cannot terminate employees who file complaints against them or take part in other related acts. 

Any Florida employer found in violation of any of these rules runs the risk of being sued for wrongful termination in a Florida court of law.

Also, if you believe that you might have been illegally fired from your job and you  want to know whether you have grounds to sue them under Florida’s right-to-work laws, you need an attorney who can review the details of your case. 

Read Also: What is a Work Permit in Florida And How To Get It

Below are other types of Wrongful Termination

A. Breach Of Contract

In many states, employers who break oral or written contracts, including any statements about employment made in any employee handbooks, can be sued for wrongful termination. 

However, Florida is one of only a small number of states that do not recognize an implied-contract exception. Therefore, only written employment contracts with definitive employment dates will be considered valid under Florida law.

B. Discrimination

In the state of Florida, employers aren’t allowed to terminate employee relationships based on protected rights or for discriminatory reasons. 

For example, they may not fire workers on the basis of race, color, country of origin, sex, religious affiliation, age or marital status. They also can’t fire workers who have HIV, AIDS or a sickle-cell trait. 

Any employer who terminates an employee for reasons that could be considered discriminatory may be sued for wrongful termination in a Florida court.

C. Retaliation

The laws that guide the State and federal helps to prevent Florida employers from firing employees for reasons considered retaliatory in nature. 

Take for example, employers in the state of Florida cannot terminate employees who file complaints about not receiving overtime pay or about unsafe, unfair or unsanitary conditions in the workplace. 

Furthermore, they are not allowed to terminate employees who refuse to engage in illegal activities or commit crimes on the employer’s behalf.

D. Public Policy

Among other states, Florida is one of only a handful of states excluding Georgia, Louisiana and Rhode Island that do not recognize this type of exception to the doctrine of at-will employment.

Though, the majority of U.S. states observe public policy except for the concept of at-will employment which means that employers in those states are not allowed to fire their workers for reasons the general public would consider unjust or unlawful. 

An Example of such wrongful termination is an employee being fired or terminated on the basis that they failed to perjure themselves on behalf of their employer.

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When Is It Right To File For A Lawsuit Against Your Employer For Wrongful Termination Of Employment

Below, we will outline some cases in which you will be able to file a lawsuit against your employer for the wrongful termination. They Include:

A. If the employer is breaking state or federal law. For example, firing you violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

B. The employer violates the public interest. For example, if you have been fired for refusing to perform an illegal act or being a whistleblower.

C. If you were fired when it is against an implied contract. For example, if your employer’s established practice is not to terminate people without cause.

D. The employer breaks a covenant of good faith. If your employer fires you after a couple of months before your collection of pension.

E. You take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act, or for jury duty, or for active military duty and the employer fires you.

F. The employer fired you in retaliation for an action. Let’s say for example, you reported sexual harassment in the workplace to local law enforcement.

G. You acted as a whistleblower and were fired. You can contact the federal authorities with information about your employer’s intentional violation of federal law.

Does The Right To Work Mean The Same Thing As At-Will?

Florida is also a “right to work” state. It definitely has nothing to do with an employer’s hiring or firing you.

It only simply means that unionization is not compulsory, and your employer is not permitted to force you to participate in a union or to pay union dues. 

They cannot also refuse to hire you or fire you for joining a labor organization or collective bargaining to improve your wages or benefits because you have the right to work irrespective of your choice.

If your employer does so, it will be seen as a violation of the National Labor Relations Act. 

FAQs

1. What Are The Rules For Termination In Florida?

Florida is an at-will state, which means an employer may fire, demote, hire, promote, and discipline employees for pretty much any reason, or no reason at all. 
The only way to change that is to urge your state legislators to pass more protections for employees.

2. What Are The Exceptions To At-Will Employment In Florida?

In the state of Florida, employers may not terminate employee relationships based on protected rights or for discriminatory reasons. 
For example, they may not fire workers on the basis of race, color, country of origin, sex, religious affiliation, age or marital status.

3. How Long Does An Employer Have To Pay You After Termination In Florida?

In Florida, a terminating employee must be paid their final paycheck no later than the next regularly scheduled pay date. 
So, if your company pays bi-weekly, an employee leaving employment through either termination or voluntary quit must be paid on the next pay date. That means that holding a paycheck is not permissible.

4. What Are The 4 Disadvantages Of At-Will employment?

The disadvantage of hiring at-will employees includes:
A. Employees who suddenly quit.
B. Difficulty attracting top talent.
C. Employee reluctance to “tell all.” 
At-will employees may hesitate to express their opinions or negotiate for benefits for fear of being terminated without warning.

 Conclusion

Now, you know more about the Florida At-Will employment rights.

We hope that his article was helpful. Don’t forget to share with your friends who need this information.

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