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When to Take Action for Wrongful Termination in Florida

Florida is an at-will state when it comes to employment, which means that an employer may fire you for any reason that is not against the law.  In other words it is  not necessary that the company prove any wrongdoing, failure to perform, or other justification for termination of your employment.  However, there are exceptions in certain situations where an employer terminates you for unlawful reasons, either under the federal Civil Rights Act or Florida’s Civil Rights Act. Some of the reasons you cannot be fired focus on whether you are a member of a protected group of persons, or  related to conduct you’ve been a part of in connection with your job. Here are a few of the indicators that you may need to take action for wrongful termination in Florida.

Termination Due to Discrimination

An employer cannot fire you because of your race, color, national origin, age, gender, sexual preference, marital status, color, religion, or disability under federal or Florida law. These laws apply to all employers that have 15 or more employees, though some counties have enacted stricter regulations that apply to entities with as few as five employees. If you were treated differently as compared to other workers of a different ethnicity, sex, religion, gender or other protected status, you may have a wrongful termination claim.

Firings After Reporting Discrimination

The law also protects you if you are terminated after lawfully reporting discrimination that you or someone else has  experienced in the workplace. Firing you because you participated in the protected activity of reporting discrimination is considered a retaliatory termination and it’s also prohibited by law.  You should never feel pressured or fear losing your job simply because you want to report unlawful misconduct at work related to your gender, religion, color, race,  age, or other protected categories.

Fired Due to Pregnancy

Discrimination at work based on a female’s pregnancy, is another form of gender discrimination. Employers are prohibited from terminating women when they become pregnant and from firing women who have recently given birth. The law protects individuals from the stereotypes employers have traditionally held regarding women with children or about to have a child, such as increased absences.

Termination Due to Workers’ Comp Claims

When you are injured on the job, you may recover for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages by filing a claim with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation.  All employers with at least five employees in the state are required to carry workers’ comp insurance to cover these losses for injured workers. If you’re fired because you made a claim after a qualifying injury, there may be a wrongful termination action.

While your employer does have considerable leeway in making a decision to fire you, there are circumstances where a termination is wrongful.  You may be entitled to compensation if your employer engages in discriminatory employment practices or other misconduct in retaliation for certain conduct.  However, it’s important to discuss your situation with an experienced employment lawyer to determine your options. Your employer likely has legal counsel, so you should even the playing field by retaining an attorney to protect your interests. For more information on wrongful termination or retaliatory actions by employers, please contact the Miami office of Penichet Law. We’re happy to answer your questions or tell you more about your rights under Florida and federal law.