Wrongful termination claims are something that any business dreads, and for good reason. They are time consuming, expensive, and no one wants to be accused of violating a federal or state law. If you’re a business owner in Florida, it’s important to reduce your risk of receiving a wrongful termination claim. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to have a West Palm Beach labor and employment lawyer review your policies and procedures to make sure there is nothing that contradicts statutory requirements.
In addition, it’s important that when you plan to let someone go, you are following all the legal requirements. While it’s not a 100% guarantee someone won’t still file a claim, at least you’ll have a strong defense prepared.
Florida is an At-Will Employment State
Florida is employment at all jurisdiction, which means employers are allowed to terminate someone without cause and, in most cases, are not required to give advance notice of the termination. If you are terminating a significant number of employees due to a large layoff, you are required to give written notice.
While you technically can terminate an employee for no reason, you can’t do it for retaliatory or discriminatory reasons. And, you are required to comply with notice requirements and final paycheck laws.
Tips for Complying with Employment Laws
● If you are laying off a large number of people, give them at least 60 days of written notice. The federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act says you’re required to give written notice if you plan to lay off 50 or more workers or a third of your full-time employees.
● Pay your terminated employees timely. The laws require that you pay them by the next regularly scheduled pay date. Although you aren’t required to pay them immediately upon dismissal, the sooner you can the better.
● You are not allowed to terminate someone who made an earlier complaint that would fall under covered whistleblower laws. An example would be reporting any breach of federal or state employment law. This gives the former employee the right to file a claim alleging they were fired for retaliatory reasons.
● Make sure you are compliant with equal opportunities in employment laws. These state that you can’t fire an employee for discriminatory reasons, which can include religion, race, gender, national origin, etc.
● You should give your employees the option to continue their group health coverage. According to COBRA, companies with 20 or more employees who are provided the optional health coverage group are required to allow terminated employees the option to continue paying for their health coverage for at least 18 months. Note that federal law doesn’t require that you must buy group coverage just to comply with COBRA nor are you required to cover an employee who was fired for serious misconduct.
Contact a Florida Employment Law Attorney
If you are facing a wrongful termination claim or need assistance making sure all your policies and procedures are compliant with federal and state laws, contact the skilled attorneys at Pincus & Currier LLP today to schedule an initial consultation. Let us help with all your Florida employment and labor law needs.