As an employee in the United States you have certain rights and protections afforded to you by state and/or federal laws.
Like most people, you may believe that you know what those rights and protections are as well as believe that you have a fairly good understanding of the workplace laws that apply to you.
You may be surprised, however, to learn that some of what you believe to be fact is actually myth.
The best way to separate myths about workplace rights from facts is to consult with an experienced employment law attorney, particularly if you have a specific situation that needs to be clarified.
In the meantime, however, it may help to clear up two areas where there are common myths and misconceptions.
Myths about Termination
The concept of “employment at will” is at the root of one of the biggest, and most potentially damaging, employment myths. Like most people, you may be under the impression that your employer has to have an articulable reason for firing you. You may even think that your employer is required to give you a warning or put you on probation before you can be fired. In the State of Florida, however, those beliefs are nothing more than myths unless you have an employment contract with your employer that sets out the reasons for which you can be fired. Like most states, the State of Florida is an “employment at will” state, meaning that your employer may fire you at any time, and for any reason, unless the reason is based on your membership in a legally protected class such as race, religion, nationality, sex, marital status, or disability. Moreover, your employer is not required to provide you with a warning nor discuss the matter with you before firing you unless the company has an employee manual that calls for certain procedures to be followed before firing an employee. In most cases, your employer could walk in tomorrow and fire you because you have on a blue shirt, because it is raining, or just because he/she woke up on the wrong side of the bed and you would have no legal recourse.
Myths about Lawsuits
The other area where employment myths and misconceptions are frequently found revolves around when and why an employee can sue an employer. For example, you may be under the impression that you can sue your boss for a “hostile work environment” if your boss bullies you or is basically a jerk. The law, however, doesn’t protect you from a bullying boss unless your boss is treating you that way because of a protected trait or characteristic you have, such as your race, gender, or disability. You may also think you have grounds for a lawsuit because your boss, or even another employee, makes a discriminatory remark to you. The law does protect you from a harassment; however, a single discriminatory remark does not equate to harassment. For the law to consider it harassment, the conduct must reach the point where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive.
If you have questions about your workplace rights, or you believe your rights have been violated, contact the experienced Florida employment law attorneys at Celler Legal, P.A. by calling 954-716-8601 to schedule your appointment.