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How Federal and State Laws Protect Against Workplace Retaliation in Florida

Worker

Even though Florida maintains at-will employment laws, state and federal policies protect employees from retaliation under certain circumstances. If employers discharge or take other adverse employment actions against employees for engaging in statutorily protected activities, then the employee may have a legal cause of action.

In order to understand the boundaries of workplace retaliation, the following sections will review applicable U.S. federal and Florida state laws. The first section will address federal laws that prohibit workplace retaliation.

Both Federal and Florida Laws Protect Against Retaliation  Related to Discrimination and Harassment

Federal law and Florida law prohibits employers from taking retaliatory action against an employee for opposing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, or who participates in any manner in any governmental investigation or proceeding related to discrimination or harassment at the workplace.  A retaliatory action is one that would deter a reasonable employee from complaining about discrimination.  This  includes obvious retaliation such as discharging and  demoting an employee, but it may also include other less obvious adverse actions, such as excluding an employee from a weekly training lunch that contribute significantly to the employee’s professional advancement.

Florida State Retaliation Laws for Public Employees

Codified as Florida Statute 112.3187, the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act establishes workplace protections for public employees. Specifically, public employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees for reporting violations of local, state or federal law. The same applies for reporting gross misconduct, abuse or negligence.

Under the Florida Whistle-blower’s Act, public employees have 180 days from the date of alleged retaliation to file a claim. In order to file a claim, public employees must reach out to the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Florida also protects employees of private companies for whistle-blowing.

Florida State Retaliation Laws for Private Employees

Codified as Florida Statute 448.102, the Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Act establishes workplace protections for private employees. Specifically, private employers are not allowed to retaliate against employees under three circumstances.  First, disclosing or threatening to disclose to a governmental agency, under oath and in writing an activitiy, policy or practice that is a violation of law, rule or regulation.  Second, providing information to, testifying before any governmental  agency conducting an investigation into an alleged violation of law, rule or regulation.  Finally, objecting to or refusing to participate in activity, policy or practice that is a violation of law, rule or regulation.

Under the Florida Private Sector Whistleblower Act, private employees have 24 months from the date of alleged retaliation to file a claim. In order to file a claim, private employees must file a civil lawsuit in the appropriate state court.

Contact Us Today for Help

If you were the victim of employer retaliation, it can be extremely helpful to speak with a skilled Florida employment attorney. The attorneys at Penichet Law in Miami, Florida, can assist you throughout each step of your case. If you need legal help, contact us today for a consultation.

Resource:

leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0100-0199/0112/Sections/0112.3187.html