In the State of Florida, employees are generally employed on an “at will” basis, which means an employer has the right to terminate your employment at any time, for any reason, as long as the reason is not an illegal reason. As most of us are aware, illegal reasons often involve decisions based on race, national origin, sex, religion, age, and disability. However, there are also laws that protect an employee from retaliatory action by an employer in connected with certain protected activities. In addition to what is commonly referred to as “whistle blower” activities, there may also be protections for an employee who complains about unlawful discriminatory conduct, or who helps a co-employee complain about unlawful discriminatory conduct.
One of the most common forms of retaliation we see is in the area of workers’ compensation retaliation. Florida statutes make it unlawful for an employer to coerce, threaten, or discharge an employee due to a claim, or an attempt to claim, benefits under the Florida workers’ compensation statute. Under the statute (Fl. Stat. Section 440.205) an employee can recover lost wages, benefits, as well as emotional pain and suffering as a result of the retaliatory conduct. This type of claim may be brought in addition to an actual workers’ compensation claim, and it may also apply if an employer takes retaliatory action even without terminating the employees employment.