Can You Be Fired For Discussing Forming A Union In Florida?
While fewer U.S. workers are members of labor unions than decades ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 14.3 million wage and hour workers nationwide belong to a labor union (2022). You may be considering organizing your workplace in Florida. This raises an important question: Can you be fired for talking about starting a union? The short answer is generally “no”—an employer cannot take unlawful retaliatory action against a worker because they engaged in a protected activity. In this article, you will find an overview of the key things that employees in Florida should know about their right to organize.
Background: Florida is a Right-to-Work State (Know What it Means)
To start, it is important to note that Florida is a right to work state. Under Florida Statutes § 447.03, “employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor unions or labor organizations or to refrain from such activity.” A right to work state refers to a state where employees are not required to join a union or pay union dues as a condition of their employment. In other words, it is a state where workers have the freedom to choose whether or not to join a union.
Federal Law Matters: The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Protects Right to Organize
While state law matters for union rights, federal law also plays a very important role in these types of cases. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides broad federal protections to workers to discuss forming a union/organizing their workplace. As explained by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), “employers may not discharge, lay off, or discipline employees, or refuse to hire job applicants, because they are pro-union.” That is not to say that the NLRA guarantees a worker a right to form a union—far from it. The federal law, which applies to most private sector employees, protects the right to be pro-union and engaged in organizational activities.
Being Terminated for Discussing a Labor Union Could Be Grounds for a Retaliation Claim
A retaliation claim is a type of legal complaint that is filed when an individual believes they have been punished or treated unfairly by their employer in response to a protected activity they engaged in. In Florida, being terminated for discussing a labor union could be considered grounds for a retaliation claim if certain key elements are present, including:
- The employee must have engaged in a protected activity, potentially including discussing the formation of a union or participating in union activities;
- The employer must have taken an adverse employment action against the employee, such as termination; and
- there must be a causal link between the protected activity and the adverse employment action, meaning that the worker’s discharge must have been motivated by their legally protected union-related activity.
Get Help From a Florida Wrongful Termination Attorney Today
Worker rights matter. No employee should face unlawful retaliation for labor organizing activities. If you or your loved one was terminated or otherwise punished for discussing a union, contact a top Florida employee rights attorney for a confidential, comprehensive review of your case.