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The Difference Between ‘At-Will’ and ‘Right-to-Work’ in Florida

If you live and work in the State of Florida, you’ve likely heard that Florida is an at-will state in terms of employment. You may have also heard that Florida is a “right-to-work” state. Both of these are true.

Does that mean at-will and right-to-work mean the same thing? Absolutely not. These are different employment philosophies that are the standard throughout the Sunshine State.

At-will state and Right-to-work in FloridaSo, what does it mean to be an at-will state? How does it differ from a right-to-work state? How can a working knowledge of these concepts help you determine if you’ve been fired from your place of employment illegally? And can a Miami employment attorney help you in your search for justice?

What is an “At-Will” State?

What does it mean when we say that Florida is an at-will state? It means that both employee and employer are presumed to be working together by choice with no written contractual obligation binding them.

The employee can quit at any time for any reason, and conversely the employer may terminate them at any time and for any reason, as long as it does not violate the law.

So, if you want to march into your place of business tomorrow and announce that you quit in dramatic fashion, no one is stopping you. But if your boss decides tomorrow that your work is sub-par and they want to replace you with no warning or written notice, there’s no legal recourse to stop them.

With the exception of Montana, every state in the U.S. is considered at-will. That doesn’t mean contract positions don’t exist. It just means that unless otherwise stated, all employment is considered to be at the will of the employee and employer alike.

Usually, an employer will present all new employees with an employment handbook upon their hiring. This document typically contains that specific employer’s hiring and firing policies.

What is a “Right-to-Work” State?

You might think that right-to-work has something to do with an employer’s ability to hire and fire you, but that is not so.

Right-to-work in Florida means that unionization is not required, and no one, including your employer, can force you to join a union or pay union dues. Employers cannot refuse to hire someone based on their union status. Right-to-work also prevents employers from firing employees for joining a union or engaging in collective bargaining efforts.

When is a Termination Illegal?

Despite Florida’s at-will status, there are certain termination actions that are illegal. If you’ve been fired for any of the following reasons, you can file a lawsuit against your former employer.

  • You were terminated for refusing to engage in illegal activities
  • You were terminated for reporting a legal violation in your workplace.
  • Firing you violates state or federal law, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
  • Firing you violates an implied contract.
  • You are fired for taking leave for jury duty, active military duty, or time under the Family Medical Leave Act.
  • You were terminated for taking action in the workplace, like reporting corruption or sexual harassment.

Do You Have a Case Against Your Former Employer?

If you’ve been fired from your job for any of the above reasons, you are entitled to sue for damages. Don’t let your former employer get away with violating the law at your expense. Call the experienced Miami employment attorneys at The Law Office of Keith M. Stern, P.A. at 866-319-3286 and schedule a consultation today.

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