What is Employment At Will?
Florida is an employment at-will state. This means that if you do not have an employment agreement that specifies the terms, conditions and duration of employment, your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason as long as that reason is not illegal. Similarly, you can resign from your employment at any time for any reason.
What are illegal reasons for terminating employment?
If an employer falls within the jurisdiction of federal, state or local discrimination laws, employers cannot terminate employment based on an individual’s race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, disability or genetic information or your complaints of harassment based on a protected characteristic. Additionally, employers cannot terminate employment based on an employee’s attempt to file a workers’ compensation claim, complaints about payment of minimum wage or overtime or complaints about illegal activity.
What Employers fall within the Discrimination and Harassment Laws?
Federal law protects employees of private employers that employ fifteen or more based on the individual’s race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), religion, disability or genetic information or your complaints of harassment based on a protected characteristic. Federal law protects against age (40 or over) discrimination or harassment for those private employers employing at least 20 employees. State of Florida law protects against race, color, national origin, sex, age, religion and disability discrimination and harassment for those employers employing at least 15 employees. Additionally, some municipalities, including the City of Tampa, protect individuals of employers that employ five or more employees. Federal law also protects employees from race discrimination or harassment regardless of the size of the employer.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer?
As soon as you experience an issue at work, whether it is harassment, reduction of hours, disparate treatment or termination from employment, you should contact an attorney to better understand your rights. There statutes of limitation that prohibit you from bringing your case to court if you do not protect your rights.
How long can you estimate my case will last?
The answer to this question depends on the type of case that is brought. If you have a discrimination or harassment case, in most cases a charge must first be filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Florida Commission on Human Relations and/or a local agency. The investigation of the charge can last at the minimum of 180 days but could last as long as year or more. Once a case is filed in civil court, absent early resolution, the case could last a year or more.