Florida, like many states, is an “at-will” employment state, which means that employers can legally terminate employees without cause. However, the termination or discharge must not violate the law. The law protects certain “classes” or groups of employees from discrimination.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it is “illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex,” including pregnancy. The law also prohibits discriminating against employees who have complained of discrimination, disabled persons, and employees 40 years of age and older. Not all employers and employees are subject to the same laws, e.g. government employers/employees.
Please consult a Ft. Lauderdale wrongful termination lawyer to discuss whether you are a member of a legally protected class.
The Claim Process And The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
If you believe your employer terminated you based on an unlawful discriminatory purpose and are considering a lawsuit, the law requires you to take preliminary steps prior to bringing suit. The wrongfully discharged employee must first file a “Charge of Discrimination” with the EEOC. You must obtain a “Right to Sue” letter from the EEOC before filing a lawsuit. Depending on the type of discrimination, the deadlines to file with the EEOC vary. Your Ft. Lauderdale wrongful termination attorney can advise you regarding each procedure in this time-sensitive process.
Wrongful Discharge Lawsuit
To prevail in a wrongful termination suit, the employee/plaintiff must be within a protected class as discussed above. Depending on the protected class you fall into, federal and state laws may provide you with legal recourse. Whether your employer violated federal and/or state laws determines the compensation to which you are entitled. Some violations will trigger statutory penalties, others entitle the terminated employee to lost wages and other monetary damages, reinstatement, and in some instances the employee may receive punitive damages.
Including the proper claims or “causes of action,” filing the lawsuit in the proper jurisdiction (federal or state court), filing within the statutory deadline or “statute of limitations,” and presenting relevant evidence are paramount to a successful case. These are sophisticated legal strategies within your Ft. Lauderdale wrongful termination lawyer’s expertise.
Addressing all the legal theories and procedures involved in a wrongful discharge case is beyond the scope of this article. Please contact a Ft. Lauderdale wrongful termination lawyer to advise you regarding a potential wrongful termination lawsuit.