Wrongful Termination Lawyers in Fort Lauderdale
Experienced Employment Law Attorneys in South Florida
Suddenly losing your job can be traumatic. In addition to loss of income comes loss of long-term business relationships, your reputation, and future earnings. Florida is an at-will employment state, meaning that if you do not have an employment contract for a definite term, your employer can terminate you for any or no reason, so long as it is not an illegal reason such as discrimination or retaliation. Even if you do not have an employment contract or protected status, however, you may have other remedies under Florida common law.
At The Amlong Firm, our employment law attorneys are well-versed in the important steps to take to remedy a wrongful termination case. Our firm has a long record of positive settlements and verdicts in favor of our clients when federal and state laws have been disregarded.
Remedies for Wrongful Termination under Florida Common Law
Terminating your employment for an unjust or illegal reason constitutes wrongful termination. Losing your job because of a “protected” status, such as that for race, national origin, religion, etc. is illegal. Being terminated when you have a valid employment contract in play, which is a breach of contract, is also a wrongful termination. Because it is an at-will state, no explicit law exists for wrongful termination in Florida.
However, you may be eligible for remedies under the following:
- Tortious interference: This occurs when a third party wrongly persuades someone with whom you have an advantageous business relationship to end that relationship. For example, if your boss at work says awful things about you because you do not return his romantic affections or for another ulterior motive, he ceases to be a legitimate party to the employment relationship. He then becomes a third party and can be sued for interfering with your employment relationship.
- Defamation: Under certain circumstances, Florida recognizes both intracompany defamation (saying ugly things about you to someone at the company where you work) and intercompany defamation (saying ugly things about you to another company). Also, if a supervisor uses his position to put an untruthfully poor evaluation into your file, then you may have a claim against not only the supervisor but also the company.
- Misrepresentation: This is often involved in jobs that end badly. It's misrepresentation when an employer lures you away from a high-paying IT job with promises of stock options, intending all along to fire you as soon as you get the new computer network up and running. It is also misrepresentation when a sales manager induces you to come to work by representing that every salesperson makes a six-figure income despite the commission-only pay plan, knowing that it's not true.
What is Considered to be Wrongful Termination in Florida?
Wrongful termination in the state of Florida is considered to be terminating an employee's contract for an illegal reason.
Proving that you were not simply fired "at will" but rather because of wrongful termination due to discrimination or retaliation can be complex. An employer may tell the court the termination was legal. However, they may have emailed someone in the company about their true motives that are discriminatory in nature.
Obtaining such direct evidence can be difficult. More often, these cases revolve around circumstantial evidence, including:
- Pregnant women who are terminated close to their due dates
- Elderly employees who were terminated close to receiving or being eligible for pension/retirement benefits
- Being fired for "poor performance" while exhibiting consistent above-average performance at the company
- Employees over 40 years old fired or laid off because the employer is getting rid of the job itself, only to find they were replaced by younger employees in a very similar "new position" that just opened up
- An unexpected termination after an employee reports an incident of discrimination or tries to assert their rights in the workplace
- Sudden and abrupt termination after an employee reports the employer's involvement in illegal activities or workplace safety hazards
- Workers fired after filing a workers' compensation claim
Evidence in a Wrongful Termination Case
A combination of these can be enough circumstantial evidence for a wrongful termination case. Sometimes, a paper trail of these issues may exist.
Your evidence can include:
- Your performance reviews
- Internal emails
- Coworker statements
- Your statement of the timeline of events
Florida law permits employers to protect against unfair competition but not against all competition. Covenants not to compete, which must be in writing, are limited to situations in which the employer needs to protect legitimate business interests such as long-time relationships with specific customers, unique methods of meeting customers' needs, or expertise that an employee has gained solely from specialized training for which the employer has paid. An employer who cannot plead and prove such legitimate business interests, however, cannot prohibit an employee from going to work for a competitor.
Employment Contracts in Wrongful Termination Claims
Our lawyers often advise clients who have been terminated with or without an employment contract. We also assist employers and employees with disputes involving the interpretation and enforceability of employment contract provisions, including noncompete agreements. In addition, we represent employers and employees in drafting and negotiating underlying employment contracts.
Work with The Amlong Firm for Wrongful Termination
Your first step after what you believe was a wrongful termination or an employee contract dispute or breach should be to contact a trusted attorney. Our firm provides outstanding experience, knowledge, and demonstrated competence that can work to help you hold your employer accountable for any type of wrongful termination.