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Wrongful Termination

Wrongful Termination Checklist: Were you Fired Illegally?

Under Florida law, in the private sector, an employee’s status is deemed to be “at will.” This means an employee serves “at the will” of their employer, and the employer may determine terms and conditions employment. Further, they can change those terms and conditions at any time, with or without notice, and for any reason.

An employer’s reason for termination, if provided at all, could be wrong in every sense of the word. Still, it’s the general rule in Florida and most of the United States. However, there are several “exceptions” to the general “at-will” law. There are local, state, and federal laws that prohibit an employer from taking adverse action. These include termination against an employee based on specific protected characteristics or protected conduct. For example, an employer cannot take adverse effects based on race, nationality, sex, age, religion, genetic condition, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.


Here is a list of 10 examples of wrongful termination:

1) A hostile Work Environment that Ignores Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is wrong, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it illegal. If you have a valid claim, you may be able to get your job back and receive back pay from the date of termination to the settlement or verdict date. You may receive additional compensatory damages as well.

2) Age Discrimination

Under both federal and Florida law, there are specific actions employers cannot take based on an employee’s age. The primary legislation is the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Passed in 1967, the ADEA affords protection to workers 40 years or older and applies to employers with 20 or more workers. The Florida Civil Rights Act does not specify an upper or lower age limit. It covers companies with 15 or more employees.

3) Race Discrimination

Title VII makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against you by refusing to hire you or discharging you due to your race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It is also unlawful for your employer to alter your compensation in any way due to these factors.

4) FMLA Violations

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, you are protected to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks (either as a block or intermittently) within one year. FMLA also ensures that you will have a job after returning from your absence. If your original job is not available, you will be provided with an equivalent position.

5) Unpaid Overtime

Overtime pay is regulated by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA requires that covered employees be paid a minimum wage, plus overtime at a rate of 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate of pay for every hour worked over forty hours in a workweek.

6) Whistleblower retaliation

If an employer does something illegal or unsafe, including discrimination or neglecting to follow safety guidelines, an employee should report it. However, sometimes, employers retaliate against employees who make these types of claims. They may even fire the employee who filed the complaint. The Florida Whistleblower Act protects employees.

7) Workers’ Compensation Claim Retaliation

Many federal and state laws are in place to protect the rights of American workers, and some employees find themselves in situations requiring legal action against an employer. If you suffered an injury due to a negligent employer or need to report a compliance violation or workplace misconduct, it’s essential to know how to navigate these processes.

8) Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination in the workplace is a special field of legal practice handled by the Tampa work discrimination lawyers at Florin Gray. The unfavorable treatment of pregnant employees and job applicants takes place with alarming frequency across the United States despite its federal and state prohibition. If you’ve experienced workplace discrimination for being pregnant, contact our law office today to schedule a free consultation.

9) Religious Discrimination

Being treated differently in the workplace can be an unfortunate affair. However, it can be even more demoralizing if your workplace peers discriminate based on your faith.

10) Disability Discrimination

Disability discrimination describes a situation in which an employer treats a qualified, disabled individual who is an employee unfavorably because of his or her disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes such discrimination against the law. The ADA also requires employees to accommodate employees with disabilities reasonably. If you have a disability, and experience unfavorable treatment, lack reasonable accommodation, or experience harassment or other hardship at work, call the employment law team at Florin Gray.

There’s More…

Further, employers may not take adverse action against employees for engaging in protected conduct. This includes complaining about discrimination, serving on a jury, participating in a discrimination investigation, or serving as a witness in a discrimination or retaliation claim of another employee, or complaining about minimum wage and overtime violations.

Most employment laws that prohibit adverse action, including termination based on protected characteristics or protected conduct, provide for the recovery of damages, such as lost wages, lost benefits, compensation for non-economic injuries (like mental anguish, embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional pain and suffering), punitive (punishment) damages, attorney’s fees and costs.

There are several exceptions to the general “at-will” employment rule, so you may be able to claim wrongful termination under one or more local, state, or federal laws.

Employers should consult with a qualified employment lawyer before taking adverse action against an employee, but often they do not.

If you believe you have experienced sexual harassment, discrimination, or retaliation and been terminated or punished at work, you should contact a qualified employment attorney. At Florin Gray, we specialize in employee rights. We can assess the merits of your claim and provide guidance and representation in advancing a viable claim.

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