Although Florida is an employment at-will state in which employers can terminate employees without good cause, retaliatory terminations remain illegal and provide grounds for the employee to sue on the grounds of wrongful termination. Whether a particular retaliatory termination is actionable depends on whether the employee’s conduct which prompted the retaliation is “protected conduct.” While “protected conduct” comes in many varieties the most common one is complaining about discriminatory behavior in the workplace. For example, if you file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and your employer learns of it and retaliates against you by terminating you for no reason or for a made up reason, you may have a claim against your employer.
Even if you are not terminated, if your employer or a supervisor discovers that you have filed a charge with the EEOC or if you have complained to your supervisor or your HR department about discriminatory behavior, and your job duties suddenly change, or your working environment becomes intolerable, you may have a claim. In many cases, the employeeâ€™s treatment by the employer after he complains can provide the employee with a stronger claim than the one he initially complained about.
The same laws that prohibit workplace discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin and disability also prohibit retaliation against an employee who opposes such conduct on his/her own behalf or on behalf of others. The law forbids retaliation when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. It also forbids employers from retaliating against employees who file Workmanâ€™s Compensation claims or employees who blow-the-whistle on illegal, unethical or improper business practices.
Employees should be free to raise concerns about improper or illegal workplace practices without the fear of retaliation and the law protects those who do.