Is Florida a Right-to-Work State?

FT Contributor  | 

Right-to-work laws are enforced at the state level so each state determines whether or not to impose this legislation. The law applies to how unionized employers handle non-union employees.

Florida is a right-to-work state and imposes this law on employers that do business in the state. In addition to this right-to-work legislation, Florida also enforces other state laws that are meant to protect workers’ rights and ensure they’re treated fairly by their employers.

What Is Right to Work?

Right-to-work laws protect workers who aren’t members of a union. The law states that unionized employers cannot fire or refuse to hire workers simply because they don’t pay union dues and aren’t union members. When an employee takes a job with a unionized employer in a right-to-work state, they have the choice to pay union dues and become a union member or not.

Even if employees don’t pay dues to a union but work for a unionized employer, they still reap the benefits of being a union member. These employees may still utilize union services even though they’re not paying dues. However, if employees who don’t regularly pay these dues require legal representation from the union to take action against or negotiate with an employer, they’re responsible for paying legal representation fees.

At-Will Employment

Florida also imposes an at-will employment law. While the right-to-work law deals with non-union employees working for unionized employers, at-will employment legislation refers to employee contracts and the right to termination. As an at-will employment state, Florida employers may terminate employees at any time, without warning, and without reason.

At-will employment also allows employees to quit their jobs at any time without reason or warning. However, there are four exceptions to this law that both employees and employers must adhere to, including the following:

  • Employee contracts: If there’s an executed contract between employer and employee, both must satisfy the contract timeline and requirements, if possible.
  • Implied contracts: An implied contract may exist verbally and if both parties understand there is a contract, it must be completed before either party may quit or be terminated.
  • Good faith and fair dealing: This exception states that an employer cannot terminate an employee for the sole reason of avoiding paying for benefits or to avoid other duties.
  • Public policy: An employer cannot terminate an employee if it would violate public policy. If quitting a job is in the best interest of the public, an employee may leave and the employer cannot seek damages.

Is Florida a Right-to-Work State?

Florida is a right-to-work state that imposes right-to-work legislation. Employers cannot refuse to hire employees or terminate employees based on their union membership status. Florida’s right-to-work laws also prohibit workers from striking on the job, whether they’re union members or not.

When Can You Be Fired in Florida?

Since Florida is a state that observes at-will employment, you may be terminated at any time by your employer. However, most employers are concerned with their reputation and legal action pertaining to wrongful termination. Therefore, many employers issue warnings to employees when their performance is lacking or when they’ve been tardy too many times.

While your employer may provide you with warnings and time to improve before you’re terminated, you may still be fired for any one of the following reasons:

  • Your employer downsizes and you’re laid off.
  • You’re caught stealing or violating an employer’s policy.
  • Your performance is poor and you’re not meeting company goals.
  • You don’t get along with co-workers or supervisors.
  • You’re consistently tardy or not working your full shift.
  • Your position is eliminated.

If you were terminated through no fault of your own, such as through layoffs, your employer may offer you severance pay or you may qualify for financial compensation through unemployment insurance.

Other Florida Labor Laws

Florida imposes additional labor laws that help protect workers’ rights and ensure they’re working in acceptable conditions.

Florida Minimum Wage Law

The Florida state minimum wage is $8.56 per hour, slightly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25. Employers are required to pay employees at least $8.56 per hour unless they qualify as an exception. For example, workers who earn tips may be paid as low as $5.56 an hour. Cities or counties in Florida have the authority to set their own minimum wage, as long as it’s at least $8.56 per hour.

Domestic Violence Leave

The Domestic Violence Leave Act allows employees who are victims of domestic violence to take off at least three days in a 12-month period. The employer may decide whether this leave should be taken with or without pay. This law only applies if the worker has been with the employer for at least three months and the employer is responsible for at least 50 employees.

Insurance After Leaving

The Florida Health Insurance Coverage Continuation Act ensures that employees who were terminated through no fault of their own are offered a continuation of their health insurance. This state law allows eligible employees to claim health insurance coverage for at least 18 months after termination.

Florida State Discrimination and Harassment Law

Florida enforces legislation that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees or job candidates based on their religion, race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or nationality. Employers cannot use these characteristics solely to determine whether to hire candidates or as the sole reason for termination.

Child Labor Laws

Florida child labor laws prohibit minors from working during school hours and from working six consecutive days in a row. Under these laws, employers must provide at least one 30-minute uninterrupted break every four hours for workers younger than 18.

Florida State Civil Rights Laws

With Florida civil rights laws in place, employers cannot discriminate against employees based on their gender, age, religion, race, or nationality. This type of discmrination cannot be tolerated in the workplace or throughout the hiring or termination processes.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

Employers in Florida cannot terminate or refuse to hire workers solely because they’re pregnant. These workers must be provided with reasonable accommodations for their medical condition, such as less physical job duties.

Unemployment Laws

Employees who were terminated through no fault of their own may be eligible to receive financial assistance through Florida’s unemployment insurance program. Unemployed workers who file unemployment claims must be willing and able to seek full-time job opportunities.

Workers’ Compensation Laws

Under Florida’s workers’ compensation laws, most employers are required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This insurance provides financial assistance to workers who are injured on the job to pay for medical expenses and the cost of living while they can’t work.

Florida imposes right-to-work laws and observes at-will employment. These labor laws, along with other legislation, ensure workers are treated fairly by prohibiting discrimination and wrongful termination.


Image Source: https://depositphotos.com/