Court Upholds Wrongful Termination Finding of Two Employees
Florida law recognizes “at-will” employment, which means that an employer can terminate an employee without a good reason at any time unless there was an employment contract signed. However, employers cannot terminate an employee for reasons that violate public policy or due to unlawful discrimination or retaliation. The Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit recently upheld a lower court’s decision that two former employees of Allied Medical Transport, Inc. in Broward County were wrongfully terminated based on unlawful retaliation.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) prohibits any employer from discriminating or retaliating against an employee for participating in union activities or showing support for a union. Retaliation can include demoting, decreasing pay, firing, assigning less favorable job duties, or any other adverse employment action. Two drivers for Allied began engaging in union activities and were both terminated shortly thereafter.
Allied claimed the drivers were both terminated for failing to remit certain fares to Allied as required. However, the employees claimed that this reason was pretextual and that the true reason for their termination was due to their union activities. The court agreed after finding the following:
- Allied’s owner expressed clear opposition to the union;
- Allied knew that these two employees supported the union;
- The termination occurred within a short time of the commencement of their union activities;
- Allied did not try to verify the explanations the employees gave for the discrepancy with their fares; and
- Allied did not terminate two other drivers for similar allegations regarding fares.
While Allied provided another potentially valid reason for the termination, the court found that circumstantial evidence pointed to the fact that these two drivers would not have lost their jobs had they not been involved in the union activities. For this reason, the firing constituted unlawful retaliation and wrongful termination.
This case demonstrates how it is possible to fight against pretextual reasons given by an employer in wrongful termination, discrimination, and retaliation claims. Proving that a reason was pretextual can be challenging since the evidence is generally circumstantial, however, an experienced employment law attorney will understands how to best demonstrate that an employer violated your rights, even in an at-will employment state.
Contact An Experienced Florida Wage and Labor Lawyer For Help
If you believe that you lost your job because your employer wrongfully engaged in unlawful discrimination or retaliation, you should not delay in contacting an experienced employment law attorney who understands both federal and Florida labor laws. These cases can be complex and evidence of retaliation can be circumstantial, however, with the assistance of a qualified employment lawyer, you can prevail and obtain the remedies you deserve including reinstatement, back pay, and more in some cases. At the law office of Robert S. Norell, P.A., we stand up for the rights of employees in and around Plantation, FL and help them recover from wrongful employers. If you would like more information about how we can help you, please call our office today at 305-405-9243.