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Category: Unlawful Termination

When Can You Sue For Wrongful Termination In Florida?

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Wrongful Termination Florida SueEmployees who feel they have been subjected to a wrongful termination in Florida can sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (federal law) or under the Florida Civil Rights Act (state law).  Florida is an at-will employment state.  This means you can be terminated for any reason, so long as, it’s not an unlawful reason.  An example of an unlawful reason would be you are fired because of your race, national origin, age, sex, religions, or disability.  These are the protected classes under federal and state anti-discrimination laws.

An employee can sue for wrongful termination in Florida if the reason they are being terminated is because of their membership in a protected class.  For example, if a decision to terminate a woman was motivated by her being a woman (i.e. sex), and not some other legitimate, non-discriminatory reason, then she may sue for wrongful termination in Florida.  However, if she was fired only because of poor performance, then she likely cannot sue for wrongful termination in Florida.

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Filing:  Charge of Discrimination

If an employee believes they have been wrongfully terminated they must file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) within 300 days of the termination.  I recommend employees who want to sue for wrongful termination co-file that charge of discrimination with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (“FCHR”).  This gives employees the opportunity to bring a wrongful termination case under the Florida Civil Rights Act (“FCRA”) which is a better law to sue under for wrongful termination for employees.

Avoiding Termination

The best way to avoid a wrongful termination is to report the behavior to the Human Resources (“HR”) department.  This should be done in writing and as soon as possible. By reporting the unlawful behavior to HR you are exercising your statutorily protected rights.  Then, if you are terminated shortly after reporting the behavior to HR, you have a prima facia case of “retaliation.”  In other words, it is unlawful to fire someone for reporting discrimination in the workplace.  This isn’t to say that you cannot still be fired for a legitimate reason, even if you made a report of discrimination.  For example, if the employer states the employee was fired for performance and not because he or she made a complaint to HR, then the burden of proof shifts back to the employee to prove that the reason offered by the employer is false.

Unlawful Retaliation

Retaliation cases are much easier to prove.  All that is required is a good faith belief that discrimination is taking place.  There are cases where the plaintiff loses the discrimination part of the case, but wins on retaliation. This is especially true when an employee is fired just after making a written complaint to HR or filing a charge of discrimination.

For example, suppose employee feels his boss is treating him badly and it’s because he is Black.  The employee files a written complaint with HR claiming that he boss is discriminating against him and the reason is because of the color of his skin.  Two (2) weeks later the employee is fired.  Provided the employee can prove that he wasn’t fired for some other legitimate, non-retaliatory reason, he has a winning retaliation case.

For More Information

If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated because of your race, national origin, age, sex, religion, or disability, you can sue in Florida.  For more information visit our Davie employment law firm website at longofirm.com.

The Longo Firm
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel:  (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916

Micah J. Longo
mlongo@longofirm.com

Can Employer Fire Me Without Giving A Reason In Florida?

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Reason.Fired.Florida.Florida employers can fire employees without giving a reason. Florida is an “at-will” employment state. This means an employee can be fired for any reason, so long as it’s not an “unlawful reason.” An example of an unlawful reason would be firing because of race, national origin, age, sex, religion, or disability.

Florida Laws On Firing Employees

There is no law in Florida that requires an employer to provide a reason for why they’re firing an employee. Only in an unlawful termination lawsuit is an employer required to provide a “legitimate, non-discriminatory” reason for the termination.  If an employee proves the basic elements of a wrongful termination claim, the burden then shifts to the employer to offer a “legitimate, non-discriminatory” reason for their actions. For example, an employer could cite poor performance or violation of company policy as the reason for the employee’s termination.

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After an employer offers a “legitimate, non-discriminatory” reason for termination, the burden shifts back to the employee to show that the employer’s reason was not true. So, if an employer claims the employee was fired for poor performance, yet the employee has always had excellent performance reviews, this could satisfy the employee’s burden of proving the employer’s reason is not worthy of belief or “pretextual.”

Ask Why You’re Being Fired

If an employee thinks they’ve been fired unlawfully it never hurts to ask why.  Sometimes, an employer will open-up and give you hints into the real reason you were fired.  Direct evidence of unlawful termination is extremely rare these days.  Most unlawful termination cases are built on circumstantial evidence.  Admissions of fact by the decision-maker at the termination meeting could make the difference between winning and losing an unlawful termination case in Florida.

Signing Termination Paperwork

First, before signing anything you should always read what you’re signing.  This is good advice in everything you do.

Second, if the paper work cites to the reason why you’re fired and you disagree with that reason, write somewhere on the margin that you disagree with their reason.  You don’t want that document to be used against you later on as an admission.  For example, if the paperwork says you’re being fired for violating a company policy and you sign acknowledging the paperwork, it could be viewed as you’re agreeing with the employer’s position.  This doesn’t happen often, but you want to make sure the record is clear.

Most paperwork that you sign after a termination is to provide you with information on moving forward.  You’ll like receive information on extending health insurance benefits (COBRA) and rolling over 401k accounts, etc. However, you want to make sure you’re not signing your rights away.  I had a case once where the employee was fired and she was told she had to sign the document.  The employee didn’t read the document and she actually signed a severance release.  Thankfully, we were able to revoke the severance release and file a wrongful termination lawsuit, but had the employee waited she may have lost her right to sue.  So, it’s always a good idea to run any termination paperwork by a qualified employment lawyer first!

For More Information

For more information about unlawful terminations in Florida visit our website at LongoFirm.com. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel!

The Longo Firm
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916

Micah J. Longo
Fla. Bar No. 97333
mlongo@longofirm.com

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