Can I Be Fired or Let Go From Employment For No Reason?
A common question asked by Florida employees is whether they can be fired for any reason, or whether their employer has to have a good or valid reason for firing them. This is a broad question that often depends on the specifics of your situation, but a quick review of the relationship between an employer and employee may be helpful.
At Will Employment
Florida, like many states, is an “at will” employment state. This means that as a general rule, your boss can fire you because he or she wants to, for any silly reason, or because he or she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Of course, more often employees are fired because of personality conflicts, for economic reasons, or due to unreasonable demands made by employers.
Whatever the reason, your boss doesn’t need a “good” reason to fire you, and you generally have no recourse against an employer who acts unreasonably.
The Rest of the Story
Of course, that’s not the whole story. Federal (and some state) laws provide protections to workers who are fired in violation of federal laws.
Sexual harassment, age discrimination, disability discrimination, pregnancy discrimination, or being fired for taking workers’ compensation are all situations where an employer cannot simply fire an employee. Many federal laws have serious penalties for employers who violate these laws, and provide damages to employees.
Remember that sometimes an employer will ”pretend” to fire you for a legitimate reason, when in truth, you are being fired illegally because you are a minority or disabled or a woman or another legally protected class. For example, if you are female and the boss walks around making jokes that are demeaning to women, then says that you are fired for “poor performance,” it may be that you were in fact fired because of your gender.
Firing at will also does not apply to situations where you have an employment contract. To keep the ability to fire employees at will, many employers will not provide contracts to employees, but if you have an employment contract and are fired in violation of the contract, you may have a claim for damages.
Remember sometimes employment contracts may not say “employment contract” on them. For example, many nondisclosure agreements, noncompete agreements, or even employee handbooks/manuals may have language that provides parameters as to when you can be released or fired.
For example, an employee manual that lists expectations for employees may be interpreted to mean that if you meet those expectations, you have a contractual right to maintain employment and avoid being fired indiscriminately.
Remember that wrongful termination takes into account a melting pot of federal laws, state laws, civil rights laws, and state contractual laws. Don’t assume that you were released or laid off for good reason, or that you have no recourse.
Questions about whether you were treated fairly by your employer or whether you may have a claim for damages? Contact the Miami employment law attorneys at Velasquez & Associates P.A. today with any questions you may have.