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What is Wrongful Termination?

You’ve lost your job. It doesn’t seem fair but what are your rights in an at-will state like Florida?

“At will” means an employer can terminate employment for any reason — or none at all — except for cases involving contracts (written or implied), a protected class, protected activity, or approved leave. The details can be tricky without a legal background, so if there’s any doubt as to whether you were covered under these protections read below and then consult an attorney:

Discrimination

If your company is larger than 15 employees you cannot be fired because of a discriminatory reason including those based on:

  • Pregnancy
  • Gender (including transgender)
  • Race or national origin
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Religion

Retaliation

In addition to types of discrimination, there are also particular activities that if you have performed them recently, you cannot be fired in retaliation for doing so. They include:

  • Whistleblowing
  • Complaining about sexual harassment or a hostile work environment
  • Seeking worker’s compensation benefits
  • Complaining about discrimination
  • Pursuing unpaid overtime of unpaid wages

Unpaid Leave

Companies can also not terminate you when you are on approved leave due to:

  • Military service
  • Jury duty
  • Approved FMLA

I think I Have a Wrongful Termination Case. Now What?

If you believe you have a case for wrongful termination, it’s time to gather your proof.

Gather as Much from Your Employer as Possible

Notes on the events surrounding your termination, your personnel file, conversations as to why the dismissal took place, contact information of employees involved in the termination or with similar circumstances, work commendations, texts, emails, and letters may all become important as you prove your case.

If there are any unpaid wages due, make that request now. If you are turned down, seek the help of a wage dispute attorney immediately.

Also, as long as you were dismissed for “misconduct”, you are able to file for unemployment. Receiving such benefits does not affect your ability to sue your former employer for wrongful termination.

File with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

No matter how strong your case, you often cannot file a wrongful termination suit against your employer without first filing with the EEOC. You have 300 days from the event to file a charge. An employment attorney isn’t required for this step, but you can be assured your former employer will have one, so there’s no reason to put yourself at a disadvantage from the start. Choose an attorney skilled in EEOC mediation who offers a free consult so you can discuss your case’s chances before wading into the EEOC process.

After the EEOC reviews your case, you will most likely be issued a “Right to Sue” letter. At this point, you will have a 90 day deadline to file a lawsuit. If you haven’t already, you should promptly consult an attorney specializing in employment law.

Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, P.A. has handled thousands of wrongful termination cases for employees. Our tenacious employment lawyers can help you navigate the process. Your consultation is free so contact them today.

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