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Does an at-will employee’s firing ever amount to wrongful termination?

On Behalf of | Jun 18, 2021 | Employment Litigation

When an employer fires an employee, it is not only an economic hardship at the moment, but it can also have long-term implications on their future prospects of finding employment. However, not all terminations are lawful — even for at-will workers.

If an employer fires a worker due to retaliation or discrimination, for example, that is known as wrongful termination. 

What are at-will employees?

At-will employees are workers that an employer can fire without giving them any advance notice and without having to provide them with a valid reason for doing so. 

Employees generally have a right to quit their job with little or no notice; thus, the law affords employers the same privilege. While some employers may have their workers sign an employment contract outlining how their job role is at-will, the courts will generally regard you as an at-will employee.

When is it unlawful for an at-will employer to fire you?

There are instances when firing an at-will employee is unlawful, such as if you took family leave or had a medical emergency. There are other instances that an employee’s dismissal may rise to the level of wrongful termination, including:

  • If the employee’s gender, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, political beliefs, or age was a factor in their dismissal
  • An employer lets a worker go for taking a break, filing a workers’ compensation claim or serving on jury duty
  • The firing is due to protected activity, like whistleblowing

A breach of a written or spoken contract may also fall under the umbrella of wrongful termination. A constructive dismissal, which involves an employee being faced to quit or resign because their workplace is intolerable, may also constitute a wrongful termination.

What recourse do you have if you were wrongfully terminated?

Florida law may allow you to recover compensation if you can successfully prove that your employer wrongfully terminated you. Proving that this occurred isn’t always easy. Learning more about the steps you’ll need to take to give yourself a fighting chance of a successful claim can help.