Wondering if you have a claim for wrongful termination? While Florida does not recognize an independent claim for wrongful termination, federal and state laws makes it unlawful to terminate employees based on the following:
- Discrimination/Harassment – If you believe you were terminated because of a protected characteristic recognized by federal, state or local law, this constitutes wrongful termination. Protected characteristics include:
- National Origin
- Marital Status
- Disability or a Record of Disability or a Perceived Disability
- Retaliation – If your termination happens after you blew the whistle about illegal conduct by your employer or complained about your employer’s unlawful employment practices, such as discrimination, you may have a claim for wrongful termination. There are several different laws that prohibit retaliation. Here are the most common:
- Florida Whistleblower Acts – A private employer with 10 or more employees is prohibited from firing employees because the employee disclosed and/or refused to participate in unlawful practices of the employer. Similarly, a public employer is prohibited from terminating its employees because an employee discloses to the appropriate official suspected violations of laws, rules or regulations or complained about gross mismanagement, malfeasance and misfeasance. Public employees are also protected if they participated in an investigation into violations of laws, rules or regulations or gross mismanagement.
- Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – You can have a claim for wrongful termination if you are terminated because you have complained about non-payment of overtime or minimum wages and/or that you have been improperly classified under this law.
- Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – When you take or request to take FMLA leave for your own serious health condition or to care for an immediate family member with a serious health condition, the FMLA makes it unlawful for a covered employer to terminate you because you exercised those rights.
- Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) – If you have reported corporate fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud or other fraud on a publicly-traded company’s shareholders, and your employer terminates you, this can give rise to a claim for retaliation under SOX.
- Anti-discrimination statutes – If you are terminated after complaining about discrimination based on a legally protected characteristic or after filing a charge of discrimination against an employer with the appropriate federal or state agency, this could be unlawful retaliation.
- Workers’ Compensation – It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee because they filed a valid workers’ compensation claim.
- Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) – Your employer cannot terminate you for reporting unsafe working conditions without violating OSHA.
- National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) – When two or more employees engage in concerted protected activities, such as complaining about working conditions or discussing wages, for the mutual aid and benefit of the workers, it is an unfair labor practice for an employer to terminate the employee(s) because they engaged in these activities.
- Breach of Contract – If you have an employment contract with your employer and your employer violates or breaches the contract, you may also have a wrongful termination.
Check out our related blogs on what to do if you are about to be or if you get terminated.
If you think you have been wrongfully terminated, it is important to contact an experienced employment attorney. Do not delay because many of these claims have very strict time deadlines for pursuing a claim against your employer.