Florida Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Helping Florida Residents Since 1972

It can sometimes be difficult to prove wrongful termination in Florida, as it is an at-will state. At-will employment means any employer can fire, demote, hire, promote, and discipline employees for any reason. However, there are some exceptions to the at-will employment laws. For example, the following actions are illegal for an employer to take:

  • Retaliating against a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim
  • Retaliating against an employee for whistleblowing
  • Discriminating against an employee on the basis of age, race, sex, pregnancy, national origin, color, religion, or disability
  • Retaliating against a worker for taking leave for bereavement, illness, disability, or serious medical condition of a family member
  • Creating a hostile work environment
  • Tolerating sexual harassment in the workplace

These restrictions apply in addition to protections offered by the Fair Labors Standards Act (FLSA), which obligate employers to pay at least minimum wage and a rate of time-and-a-half for any overtime worked.

To speak with one of our experienced employment law attorneys, contact us today! We can answer pressing questions regarding your case.

Workers’ Compensation Retaliation Claim Filing

If you were injured on the job, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim if you are an employee of your company. Independent contractors have to pay their own insurance costs unless your employer improperly classified you as such in order to avoid paying for your benefits. According to Florida Statute 440.205, employees are protected from being “intimidated, coerced, threatened, or discharged in retaliation for filing or attempting to file a workers’ compensation claim.” As an employee, you are entitled to have your medical expenses and missed wages paid for if you are injured on the job. Likewise, you are also allowed to return to your job when you are released to return to work by your physician.

If you bring a claim against your employer, you can recover lost wages, a loss of earning capacity, payment of future medical care, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life in addition to the workers’ comp claim. You must be able to show the retaliation was caused by filing or attempting to file the claim.

Hostile Work Environments & Toleration of Sexual Harassment

A hostile work environment is a place of employment in which the actions of your boss or coworker make your job impossible to do. If the behavior of your boss or coworker altered the terms, conditions, or reasonable expectations of a comfortable work environment for you, you might have a claim. Some examples of behaviors that contribute to a hostile work environment include:

  • Displaying racially insensitive or discriminatory behavior
  • Unnecessary touching
  • Discussing sexual activities
  • Commenting on physical attributes
  • Using crude language
  • Using demeaning or inappropriate terms
  • Indecent gestures
  • Sabotaging an employee’s work
  • Sexual suggestiveness

A hostile work environment typically includes some type of discriminatory behavior, including sexual harassment or toleration of sexual harassment. For example, if you complained to your supervisor about the sexually harassing behavior of another employee and your supervisor did nothing about it, this would be considered creating a hostile work environment for you.

While the Department of Labor has a Harassing Conduct Policy designed to provide a process for addressing incidents of unwelcome conduct long before they become severe enough to be considered hostile, if all other resources have failed you can sue your employer for allowing or perpetuating hostility that would prevent any reasonable person from doing his or her job.

Discrimination

In some cases, employers will treat their employees differently based on bias and discrimination. For example, if your supervisor continues to promote people of one race over another actively, this would be considered discrimination based on race. Employees are protected under the Florida Civil Human Rights Act, which makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate based on race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, or marital status.

Discrimination claims can be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The state and federal agencies have a work-sharing agreement, which means both agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. If you file a claim with one, you don’t necessarily need to file it with the other as long as you indicate you want to cross-file the claim with the other agency.

Wage & Hour Disputes

If your employer owes you wages for regular hours or overtime pay, he or she can’t terminate you for objecting to not being paid. For every hour you work for your employer, he or she owes you at least minimum wage. The FLSA protects you from being cheated of your wages or punished for seeking compensation. In Florida, employees are allowed to sue for compensation owed for up to 2 years prior to filing the case. If the court determines your employer willfully disregarded FLSA regulations, you might be able to recover up to 3 years of back pay.

Unpaid Overtime

Likewise, the FLSA protects employees from supervisors who refuse to pay workers for any hours worked over 40. As an employee, you are entitled to not only minimum wage but also time-and-a-half the amount of your typical payment for overtime. While Florida doesn’t have specific laws regarding overtime, federal protection is sufficient to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. If you win your suit, you are entitled to back pay for 2 to 3 years before the date you filed in addition to your company’s reimbursement for your legal costs. You cannot be terminated for challenging the business’s failure to pay overtime or because your employer doesn’t want to pay your wages.

Whistleblowing

Under Florida law, if your employer has 10 or more employees, you may be a protected whistleblower. Employees who report on or refuse to participate in discrimination, harassment, or illegal activity are considered whistleblowers. While the state is an at-will employment state, you can’t be fired or harassed for being a whistleblower. Other activities considered whistleblowing include:

  • Participating in an investigation or legal action against an employer
  • Contacting a whistleblowing hotline
  • Filing a written complaint with an appropriate agency on their own or as part of an ongoing investigation

The Florida Whistleblower’s Act protects public employees, while private employees are protected under the Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Act. If you have a retaliation claim, make sure you file it before the statute of limitations has passed. Private employees must file within 2 years of discovering that the personnel action was taken. Public employees only have 180 days to file.

Contact Us Today

Employment law can be incredibly complicated, especially since some aspects are covered by state and federal statutes while others are only covered by one or the other. Our firm has been helping Florida residents with claims since 1972. We are also highly rated and well regarded by many people whom we have helped. Martindale-Hubbell®, one of the oldest and most prestigious attorney rating services, has listed us as a top-rated law firm. Let our experienced Florida employment law attorneys help you effectively and efficiently.

Contact us at (855)-532-8365 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.