Florida Injury and Employment Attorneys

Tampa Wrongful Termination Lawyer

In a legal context, wrongful termination means firing an employee for an illegal reason. Although Florida is an at-will employment state, it is still illegal to terminate an employee for certain protected reasons, including reporting harassment and discrimination.

If you have been terminated after reporting harassment and discrimination, contact Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC as soon as possible. Our Tampa Bay wrongful termination attorneys are passionate advocates for victims.

tampa wrongful termination defense

Why Choose Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC?

We have more than 100 years of experience and a history of success representing clients in all matters of employment law. Our Tampa employment lawyer is compassionate and understanding – all our legal decisions are informed by your specific circumstances, and we make certain you are aware of your legal options before undergoing any formal proceedings. We take a hands-on approach, devising comprehensive strategies tailored specifically to your needs and aggressively litigating for maximum compensation.

How a Tampa Wrongful Termination Attorney Can Help

Wrongful termination cases can be complex, and evidence of discrimination and retaliation is often circumstantial. Our attorneys will consider the facts and seek information that tends to prove that your termination was unlawful. We will evaluate any available employer documentation, look for differential treatment, and any evidence that you were unlawfully terminated for reporting harassment and discrimination.

Florida Laws: Protections for Reporting Harassment and Discrimination

It is illegal under both state and federal laws to fire an employee for reporting harassment and discrimination. Protection under state law is provided in the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992. Claims of retaliation may be filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Florida is an At-Will State

Florida is an at-will state, which means that an employer can hire, fire, promote, demote or discipline employees for almost any reason they see fit, but it doesn’t mean you are without any sort of protection in the workplace. There are plenty of laws to make sure that you are not facing horrible working conditions and are still receiving fair pay for your work.

Can You Be Fired in Florida for No Reason?

Employers often wield power over employees who need a paycheck to protect themselves and their families. If your employer has fired you without cause, speak with one of the wrongful termination attorneys at Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC. We believe employers should treat their workers with integrity and fairness. Surprisingly, termination without cause is not illegal in Florida, but you are still eligible for protection under other state and national laws.

Proving Wrongful Termination in Tampa

Employers are prohibited under state and federal law from firing, demoting, or harassing employees from exercising their employment rights. Employees are protected from retaliation by employers from actions that include making a state or federal claim of discrimination.

To prove wrongful termination for reporting harassment and discrimination, the employee must show that:

  • He or she was engaged in a protected activity (reporting harassment and discrimination).
  • He or she was punished with termination or another adverse employment action.
  • The termination resulted from the employee’s participation in the protected activity (reporting harassment and discrimination).

Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence

In many cases, demonstrating the connection between the employee’s reporting of harassment and discrimination and his or her being fired is the most difficult part of proving wrongful termination. Under the law, this connection can be established by either direct or circumstantial evidence.

  • Direct evidence involves verbal or written statements that the employee was fired for engaging in a protected activity (reporting harassment and discrimination in this case).
  • Circumstantial evidence involves an inference that the termination or punishment was a result of the employee’s participation in a protected activity.

Employers defend claims of retaliation for reporting harassment and discrimination by presenting valid reasons for terminating the employee. The more valid reasons there are for termination, the more difficult it is to prove retaliation and wrongful termination.

Federal and State Laws that Prohibit Discriminatory or Retaliatory Firing

Listed below are some of the many legal protections that contain provisions to protect you against wrongful termination:

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits all types of employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids termination or other discrimination based on pregnancy.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA) protects individuals age 40 years and older from wrongful termination and other types of discrimination based on their age.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), Title I and Title V prohibits wrongful termination and other forms of employment discrimination against qualified workers with disabilities;
  •  The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, sections 501 and 505, prohibit discrimination against qualified federal government workers with disabilities.
  • Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), prohibits termination and other types of employment discrimination based on genetic information about an employee.
  • The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a federal law that protects federal government employees who report misconduct at the agency where they work.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) whistleblower statutes protect workers from retaliation or termination for reporting safety concerns, injuries, or certain other activities.
  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 protects corporate whistleblowers working for publicly traded companies.
  • The Dodd-Frank Act protects corporate whistleblowers who report their employer’s possible violation of securities laws
  • The Uniformed Services Employment and Re-employment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) protects the Civilian employment rights of past and current military members as well as people tho apply for military service.

Other Types of Wrongful Termination

Aside from discrimination and retaliation, there are other situations in which termination of an employee may not be legal.

Express or implied contract: If an employee can show that an express or implied contract existed with the company, which would prevent the employer from firing the employee without cause, the termination may be deemed a wrongful one: for example if the employer made promises of job security or other representations at or subsequent to hiring, or if such promises were set forth in the company manual.

Class-Action Lawsuits

If your company has a policy that discriminates against multiple employees who belong to a class of workers who are protected by law, let us know.  We can make a class-action claim on behalf of all of those who were victims of the employer’s misconduct, especially in the case of a large company where discriminatory actions are systemic and affect many people. There is strength in numbers, and class action suits are often more efficient and better able to generate publicity and public support than individual actions.

What Do I Do If My Employer Fires Me for No Reason?

Though you do have protections because Florida is an at-will state, you must consider your next steps carefully. If your employer terminates you without cause:

  • Do not sign a severance package. Once the paperwork has your signature on it, the termination is official. If you do not understand why the company is terminating you, it is helpful to enlist the assistance of a lawyer. A lawyer on your side can help you to understand what you are signing for and why. It can also keep you from making a giant mistake.
  • Check your written contract. Do you have a written agreement with your employer? Sometimes the paperwork you sign when hired contains a lot of useful information about your position and about your company. Always keep a copy of it on file so you can refer to it as necessary. In the case of termination, you’ll have a copy to show your lawyer if needed.
  • Sometimes implied promises made to employees about things like the duration of your employment are false. An employee manual that spells out a certain schedule of promotions not followed is a great piece of evidence in court for implied promises. Sometimes implied promises are just a verbal promise and can be hard to prove, but the court usually looks at factors such as:
    • length of employment at the company
    • any assurances of continued employment
    • a history of positive reviews
    • a history of promotions
    • previous violations your employer may have had with other employees
    • and the paperwork you signed when hired
  • Collect all documents relating to your job. Print out pay-stubs for a financial paper trail. Collect tax documents showing your yearly salary. Gather up any awards or certifications you have received. Collecting everything in a folder is helpful for organizational purposes.
  • Hire an attorney. Your employer has a legal team on their side, and you need someone looking out for your best interests in such situations. You will need help when it comes to gathering evidence, and an attorney can point you in the right direction.

If you believe your employer wrongfully fired you, explain what happened to an attorney. At-will states may make it easier to treat employees unfairly, but a lawyer who knows the laws inside and out can help to sort out exactly what is happening. He or she can help you to get to the bottom of a very uncomfortable situation, making everything go much more smoothly. Leave the heavy lifting to your legal team and enjoy the peace of mind knowing that your case is in the hands of the professionals.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

At Florin Gray Bouzas Owens, LLC we believe that people who want to work, need to work, and are qualified to work deserve to work. Contact us to arrange a free appointment with a skilled, experienced, and compassionate attorney, who will be committed to your well-being and focused on your needs.

You’ve lost your job, but don’t lose hope. We have helped thousands of clients in the past, and we are here to help you. We accept cases on a contingency fee basis, which means no upfront costs, no out-of-pocket expenses for the duration of the legal process, and no legal fees to us until we win your case and you are paid the damages owed to you. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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