Wrongful Termination Charges Against A Small Business
Running a business can be an exciting venture, but it can also be a challenge at times. One of the most difficult things a business owner will have to do is terminate an employee. Whether the employee is performing unsatisfactorily or the business is suffering and you have to do a mass layoff, letting go of employees is never easy.
Florida and almost all other states (except Montana) are at-will states, meaning that you can terminate an employee at any time, for any reason. Well, there are some exceptions. For example, you cannot fire an employee for discriminatory or otherwise illegal reasons, such as retaliation.
Discrimination laws are at the federal level, although some states or even metropolitan areas have anti-discrimination laws in place. Under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), it is illegal to fire an employee due to:
- National origin
- Gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation
- Pregnancy status
- Age (if the person is over the age of 40)
- Genetic information
If an employee is fired for any of these reasons, it can be considered wrongful termination. Other situations in which wrongful termination may be at play include:
- Breach of contract. If an employee has a contract and the employer breaches it by firing the employee, then it could be wrongful termination.
- Disparate treatment. This is when members of the same race, ethnic group, or gender have been denied the same employment opportunities that have been available to other employees.
- Constructive discharge. This is when the employer has created a hostile work environment, forcing the employee to quit or resign.
- This when an employer seeks revenge on an employee for exercising a right or engaging in a legally protected activity. An example would be firing an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
These violations can sometimes occur due to process mismanagement or lack of understanding of relevant laws. However, intent does not matter and ignorance is not a defense.
An employee can file a claim and receive compensation for their losses. The average claim amount for a terminated employee is $37,200, although award amounts range from $5,000 to $80,000. Note that most employers settle rather than go to court so that the case is not made publicly known, which can cause damage to the company’s reputation.
As an employer, you can avoid wrongful termination. It starts with your policies and procedures. Review these documents to see if they are consistent with your actual practices as well as compliant with the laws.
Contact a Business Litigation Lawyer Today
Owning a business comes with a lot of responsibility as well as a lot of risk. Sometimes you have to make hard decisions, like terminating an employee, but these matters have to be dealt with appropriately and done legally.
A Bradenton business litigation lawyer from Cahall Law Firm can help you with your business matters. Schedule a free consultation today by calling (941) 281-2019 or filling out the online form.