Florida, like most of the United States, is an “employment at-will” state. That means your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason or no reason as long as you are not terminated for an unlawful reason. Conversely, you, the employee, can quit at any time for any reason or no reason. Many employees hear that and lose any hope of making out a claim for wrongful termination. They assume there’s nothing that can be done.
While it is technically true that employers do have the right to terminate employment at any time, there are exceptions as to who or why they can terminate an employee.
Is your termination or other adverse employment action a basis for a wrongful termination claim?
Situations Which Support a Wrongful Termination Claim
Discriminatory actions.These are terminations, demotions, or refusals to hire based on race, gender, age, pregnancy, national origin or ethnicity, marital status, color or assumed ethnicity, or disability (or some other specific status protected by law).
Whistleblowing or reporting retaliation.These are negative employment actions due to the employee or job candidate reporting discrimination or engaging in other protected action.
Refusing to participate.Sometimes employers terminate employees based on their refusal to participate in sexual advances, harassment, illegal activities, discrimination, and other illegal activities.
Family & Medical Leave.It is illegal to terminate someone who is on leave which is protected by the Family & Medical Leave (which may include maternity leave) based on the fact that they took leave under the Family & Medical Leave Act.
Overtime wages.Sometimes employers terminate employees because they owe them overtime wages or because employees have challenged the employer’s failure to pay minimum wages, a requirement that employees work off the clock or improper classification as an exempt employee or an independent contractor. Filing workers’ compensation. Your employer cannot terminate you for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
Statute of Limitations on Wrongful Termination in Florida
If you’ve experienced wrongful termination, you likely need some time to process your firing – but don’t take too much time. The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) enforces state laws prohibiting discrimination while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal anti-discrimination laws.
Wrongful termination spans many different kinds of law from employment discrimination to wrongful classification. For each of these types of wrongful termination, there are different statutes of limitations or time limits within which you must file your claim. You should consult an employment attorney who specializes in wrongful termination to find out the specific statutes that apply to your situation.
But one thing is for sure, none of the wrongful termination scenarios have completely open windows of time to file, so deciding how you want to proceed and taking the required action to preserve your claim must be done in a timely matter. Don’t let the calendar decide for you.
How to File a Claim for Wrongful Termination
Since there are so many different situations for wrongful termination, your termination could be initiated in a number of different ways. Most wrongful termination situations will begin with filing a complaint with the EEOC or the FCHR. The EEOC has branch offices in Miami and Tampa and you can file in person, by mail, or by telephone. Learn more here.
Some claims are brought by filing a lawsuit without having to file a charge or otherwise engage in an administrative process. You may have more than one claim- and one of those claims may need to go through the administrative process while you can initiate the other in a separate action. So many variations and so many strategic decisions to make!
While you can file a charge of discrimination on your own (or even file a lawsuit on your own), it’s best to speak with a wrongful termination attorney. You can be assured your employer has attorneys working for it so don’t risk your rights or miss an important opportunity by not fully understanding the nuances of the law.
Wrongful termination is an expansive subject that encompasses a lot of different areas of law. At Wenzel Fenton Cabassa, PA, we’ve compiled an ebook of everything you need to know when facing possible wrongful termination. Access it today for free.”