"To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men."
It’s well-known that Florida is an “at-will” employer state. That means your boss can terminate your employment at any time, with no notice, and for any reason.
If you’re working directly below a ceiling tile that is old and moldy, you could be sitting under a health code violation. What’s more, it could be negatively impacting the air quality of the office, increasing your risk of illness. Because Florida employers can fire their employees-at-will, you might think that reporting this potential health risk would be a sure-fire road to the unemployment line.
But that’s not the case. Despite Florida’s “at-will” status, employees are protected against retaliatory actions when reporting a legal matter.
If you were recently fired for filing workers’ compensation benefits or for reporting illegal activity, you have grounds to file a lawsuit against your former employer.
There is no public policy exception to Florida’s at-will employment doctrine. Exceptions can only come from statutes which are approved by the legislature.
There are two main statutes which protect Florida employees from workplace retaliation. One is in reference to public employees while the other protects the private sector.
Florida State Statute 112.3187 is also known as the Florida Whistleblower Act. It states that an employer may not fire or discriminate against a public employee in retaliation for disclosing information regarding federal, state, or local law violations. It also protects employees who report acts of gross mismanagement, fraud, abuse, and neglect committed by an independent contractor or agency.
Florida State Statute 448.102 protects employees in the private sector from retaliation. Under this statute, private employers cannot take any action against an employee who has disclosed an activity, practice, or policy of the employer that is in violation of the law. It should be noted that this protection is only applied if the employee has brought the matter to the attention of a supervisor in writing, or if the employer has been given a reasonable chance to come into compliance with the law.
Retaliation is not limited to termination. Retaliatory measures can include demotion, refusing promotion, an alteration of benefits, change of job assignment, or harassment. Consistent harassment or any impeding of an employee’s ability to do their job in response to a whistleblower action, can lead to severe legal ramifications.
Some actions that are protected under Florida’s employer retaliation laws are:
The law continues to protect employees even in instances where their claim against an employer is dismissed. So even if your employer comes out of an investigation unscathed, they are still legally barred from taking action against you.
The first step in reporting workplace retaliation is to file a formal complaint with the government or file a lawsuit. The latter should not be undertaken without the direct supervision and guidance of a skilled and experienced team of Florida employer retaliation lawyers, like those found at the Miami Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A.
Employees may be entitled to rehiring, back wages, reimbursement of legal fees, and compensation for damages in the event that retaliation has been proven.
If you believe that your employer has illegally retaliated against you, leading to a demotion, punishment, or wrongful termination, contact the Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. for a free consultation.