what costitutes wrongful termination

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what costitutes wrongful termination

i was permanently laid-off for one reason, and a week later recieved a termination notice for another reason

Asked on June 10, 2009 under Insurance Law, Florida

Answers:

L.M., Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Most of the states in the U. S. are employment "at-will" states and there is no formal contract between employer and employee. Florida is an at-will employment state. At-will also means that a company can fire its employees at-will at any time for any reason or no reason at all. Employees are also free to leave a company at-will for any reason or no reason at all. Many people think that because they live in an "at-will" state, that they have no legal rights if they are terminated from a job. That's not true.

Wrongful discharge lawyers look at four areas of the law to see if their clients have a case including federal and state statutes, public policy, good faith and fair dealing and implied contracts. Applicable federal and state statutes include anti-discrimination laws such as firing a person because of race, national origin, age, sex, religion, sexual preference, positive HIV/AIDS tests, disability, height, weight, arrest record, marital status, genetic carrier status and military service, which are all grounds for a wrongful termination case.

If the discharge of an employee violates a public policy, such as termination for jury duty, filing a worker's compensation claim or refusal to break the law at the request of the employer, then this is also grounds for a wrongful termination case. Another common law extension of public policy is whistle blower retaliation, which is prohibited in nearly all jurisdictions. Employees are protected for reporting an employer for misconduct to a state or federal regulatory agency, such as for fraud or for causing environmental hazards. Statute of limitations to file under the whistle blower laws may be very short, lasting only a number of weeks in some jurisdictions, so it is important to check with a wrongful termination lawyer and file the proper paperwork as quickly as possible after being discharged.

Eleven of the U. S. states recognize the "good faith and fair dealing" exception to employment termination. This means that in every employment relationship, the employer needs to act in a fair manner and that discharging an employee without "just cause" or due to maliciousness or bad faith is prohibited.

Many companies in at-will states will say they are at-will employers but this may be only part of the time. These employers may also imply to any or all employees (usually in employee manuals or handbooks) that there are other rules at work such as reassuring employees that they will only be fired for just cause or that there is a disciplinary process prior to termination that will be followed in discharging employees. These kinds of reassurances may indicate and implied or explicit contract in the eyes of the courts. In addition, most companies may not fire employees because their stock options are going to be vested, because either the implied contract or fair dealing.

I would suggest you speak to an employment lawyer in Florida to determine whether or not you have a case for wrongful termination since I don't know the details of your employment.  Try www.attorneypages.com or your local bar association.


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