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What You Can and Cannot Be Fired For In the State of Florida

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By Arielle K. Brandt | Cohen Grossman, Attorneys at Law

In the state of Florida you can be fired at-will, unless you have a contract that sets out specific protections.

You CAN be fired for:

  • violating any clauses of your employment contract;
  • abusing computer or company privileges;
  • consistent lateness or absences;
  • job performance or execution style;
  • personality conflicts;
  • poor language;
  • lack of qualification;
  • lying;
  • drug use;
  • or no reason at all.

The list of reasons as to why your employer can terminate you goes on and on. On top of that, your employer has the right not to give you a reason as to why they are terminating you.

It is typically more productive to discuss the reasons you cannot be fired by your employer.

An employer CANNOT fire you for:

  • reporting illegal practices such as discrimination, improper wage practices, etc.
  • your race, origin, faith, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, or age (if you’re over 40);
  • choosing to join a union or electing not to join a union;
  • pregnancy (additionally they cannot terminate you simply because the company doesn’t want to pay you for maternity leave);
  • your refusal to take a polygraph test OR based only on the fact that you failed the polygraph test (this does not mean that they cannot fire you because they have other evidence to back up the polygraph test).

If you have experienced any of these violations contact Cohen Grossman, Attorneys at Law at (407) 478.4878.

My Employer Required Me to Take a Polygraph Test and Fired Me, What Can I Do?

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By Arielle K. Brandt | Cohen Grossman, Attorneys at Law

The guidelines and protocols on polygraphs and employees are sheltered under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA). Employers who require a job applicant to take a polygraph test, or discriminate against a candidate for declining to take a polygraph test, can be reprimanded. A job candidate who is required to take a polygraph test may file a complaint and obtain damages. Know your rights!

There are two exceptions to the rule described above:

  1. The EPPA does not apply to the government.
  2. Applications for a job at a security firm, security guard, armored car guard or driver, pharmaceutical company, or at a pharmacy and the job includes dispensing or distributing drugs, may require you to take a polygraph test. This second exception has specific requirements set out by the EPPA; any variation from those requirements can be considered a violation of the EPPA.

The EPPA allows employers to request that their employees take polygraph tests. There are a few specific circumstances where this may come up. The most common is financial loss from theft or embezzlement of business assets. The EPPA requires employers to follow a specific standard if they wish to polygraph employers in such a situation.

The rule requires an employer to give you notice in writing, that:

  1. it has suffered an economic loss in detail;
  2. you had access to the property and detail the type of access you had; and
  3. it indicate what reasonable suspicion it has that you were involved and describe any and all evidence. Additionally, employers are required to comply with specific requirements under the EPPA before requiring any employee to participate in a polygraph.

The employer must do all of the following items in writing:

  1. give notice to the employee of the date, the time, the place of the polygraph test;
  2. give notice that the employee has the right to consult with a lawyer at each phase of the test;
  3. provide the employee with notice as to the nature and characteristics of the machine or instrument to be used in the examination;
  4. inform the employee in a notice of his or her rights;
  5. provide a list of prohibited questions and topics;
  6. inform the employee that he or she is free to terminate the examination; and
  7. inform the employee that he or she may file a complaint with the Department of Labor for any violation of his or her employee rights under the EPPA;
  8. the notice must be signed by the employee and by a person authorized by the employer to bind him or her.

Employees have a right to file a complaint for damages for Wage and Hour violations with the Department of Labor or the Courts. Additionally, the Secretary of Labor can then take action to stop your employer from violating your rights under the EPPA. Finally, the Secretary of Labor can also assess civil monetary penalties of up to $10,000 per violation.

If you believe your rights under the EPPA have been violated, contact Cohen Grossman, Attorneys at Law at (407) 478.4878 immediately.

Is Florida a "Right to Work" or "At-Will" State?

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By Arielle K. Brandt, Esquire | Cohen Grossman, Attorneys at Law

The answer is both. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT one in the same. The two ideas share common ground, but they have different definitions and impacts for employees and employers alike. 

AT-WILL

“At-will” means that you or your employer can end your employment tie for any reason, whether it is a negative or positive motivation.

It also means that the parties can end the relationship for no reason at all, so long as there is not a contract authorizing a different agreement. The upside of “at will” employment is that it gives you the freedom to choose where you work no matter how long the employer-employee relationship has existed. A major drawback is job security. Without a contract, your employer can simply fire you because they dislike your hairstyle that specific day.

RIGHT TO WORK

“Right to work” gives you the right to join, or refuse to join, a labor union.

The Florida Constitution does not allow an employer to refuse to hire, or terminate you because you do not want to pay union dues or because you want (or do not want) to participate in a union. You have a right to work in the state of Florida and it cannot be affected by your union membership decision.

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