Terminations & Layoffs

Property Right

Can employers arbitrarily terminate a person’s employment in Florida? Florida is an “at will” state, meaning employers generally can terminate an employee for any lawful reason, just as employees may quit for any reason. Certain public employees, however, enjoy a property interest/right to their employment and may be terminated only for cause.

Both the United States and the Florida Constitutions provide that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In the employment context, this guarantee of due process functions to protect certain public employees from being deprived of a protected property interest in their employment. Bd. of Regents of State Colleges v. Roth, 408 U.S. 564 (1972). Indeed, in Roth, the United States Supreme Court held that, where public employees have a property right or property interest in their continued employment, the employer may not terminate the employee without certain due process protections.

Continue Reading Property Rights in Continued Employment for Public Employees: The Basics

In reading Jon Hyman’s most recent "What I Read This Week" (which, by the way, is an *awesome* resource if you haven’t seen it before), I came across this article on the "Three Best Practices for Terminating Insubordinates."  In the article, Stephen Meyer offers a three-step plan for terminating insubordinates:  document; apply progressive discipline; and enforce consistently. 

This is EXACTLY what I tell my clients (in fact, I know a couple of you reading right now have heard this quite recently!).  Though it may seem pretty basic, the importance of following these steps cannot be overstated.  Document, document, document.  Many times I’ve seen clients terminate an employee they claim has been a problem employee for X number of days, weeks, or months, yet the employer cannot produce a single incident report, written warning, or even a note to the employee’s personnel file to support this claim.  Those situations can be downright cringe-worthy for the lawyer who is faced with defending against a claim stemming from the termination.

While I certainly understand that dealing with problem employees and issuing disciplinary action is not exactly a fun part of any supervisor/HR professional’s job, it really is so important to head off problems when they first begin by following these steps.  When you do this consistently, the employer will be in a much better position to terminate the insubordinate employee, and at the same time you will help minimize the employer’s risk of being sued. 

Plus, you’ll make your lawyer proud!

The Employment Law Practice Group is pleased to provide the February 2010 edition of the Employment Law Update, which features the following articles:

  • Did you know that Florida ranks second only to California in the number of wage and hour suits brought against employers?  Robert Shearman provides employers with a timely update and advice in "Taking Care of Business and Working Overtime: FLSA Lawsuits on the Rise."
  • Whether an employee is terminated because of a depressed economy or poor performance, severance agreements are important for employers and employees alike. John Agnew explains in "Why a ‘Golden Parachute’ Can Be As Good For The Employers As It Is for the Employee, Especially in Difficult Economic Times."
  • In the article "Amendment to FMLA Expands Military Family Leave," Joanne Lashey explains how FMLA policies should be reviewed and revised to comply with changes to exigency leave, contingency operations and caregiver leave requirements.