With a few exceptions, employment in Florida is considered at-will. This means that a person can be fired for just about any reason; good cause is not necessary. However, as simple as this might seem, there are many gray areas and complications that can arise that make at-will employment a complex area of law.
For instance, employees are protected against wrongful termination. Even at-will employees cannot be fired for illegal reasons like retaliation. Let's take a look at a recent case in another state to get a better idea of what this might look like for Florida workers.
A firefighter filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully terminated after he filed a report stating his department had not been following certain procedures during a specific incident. This failure to do so jeopardized his life and the life of at least one person who got stuck in a burning building.
Rather than supporting the firefighter, his supervisors evidently warned him that the violations were being covered up and they needed him to support a false account of the incident. The firefighter did not; instead, he notified the Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the department's failure to follow procedure.
After filing his report, the man was then subjected to negative treatment by the department. He was prohibited from re-taking a test and ultimately fired.
Employees are protected from being mistreated or fired for exercising their right to report unsafe or unlawful conduct, which is considered retaliation. In this case, a jury agreed that the man's firing was retaliatory and therefore wrongful. He was awarded $2.3 million.
If you believe you are or were in a situation similar to the one discussed in this post, it can be crucial that you understand you may have grounds for a wrongful termination claim. Consulting an attorney will help you assess your options and make decisions about what you want to do.
Source: Bay City News, "Jury awards Vallejo firefighter $2.3 million for wrongful termination, retaliation," March 22, 2016