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Scott Wagner & Associates, P.A. Florida Labor & Employment Lawyer
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Florida Is A ‘Right-To-Work’ State: Here Is What That Means

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As reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), there are 27 ‘right-to-work’ states in the United States. Florida is a ‘right-to-work’ state. In fact, Florida is one of the country’s first ‘right-to-work’ states—adopting the law back in 1943. There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about exactly what this means for an employee. In this article, you will find answers to frequently asked questions about Florida’s ‘Right-to-Work’ laws.

‘Right-to-Work’ in Florida: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a ‘Right-to-Work Law? 

A controversial law, ‘right-to-work’ is a bit of a misnomer. These laws do not guarantee everyone a right to have employment. Instead, these laws pertain primarily to the use of labor unions. In a right-to-work state an individual worker cannot be compelled to join a labor union as a condition of keeping their employment.

On the one hand, some people, including business groups, support these types of laws on the grounds of freedom of association. On the other hand, some, including most interest groups in favor of employees, believe they create a “free-rider” problem that fundamentally undermines the ability of workers to collectively bargain for better conditions.

Is ‘Right-to-Work’ the Same Thing as At-Will Employment? 

No. Though you may hear them linked in some conversations, ‘right-to-work’ and at-will employment are two distinct issues. The vast majority of U.S. states operate under an at-will workplace standard. While Florida is only one of 27 ‘right-to-work states, it is one of 49 at-will employment states. The only non at-will employment state, Montana, has relatively similar rules.

Under an at-will employment standard, the employer-employee relationship is voluntary. Both parties have a general right to end the employment relationship for any reason they see fit. Unless there is an employment agreement in place that states otherwise, an at-will employee can be terminated without cause. Likewise, an at-will employee can leave their job without notice. 

Can an Employer Fire Me for Any Reason in a ‘Right-to-Work’ State? 

No. Florida’s ‘right-to-work’ law is fundamentally about labor unions. It does not mean that you can be fired for any reason. However, the at-will employment standard allows businesses and organizations access to wide discretion—terminating workers for virtually any reason they see fit, including for no reason at all.

That being said, an employer in Florida cannot fire a worker for an illegal reason. If you were fired because of racial discrimination, sex-based discrimination, in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment, in retaliation for filing a wage and hour complaint, or for another unlawful reason, you have the right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer to seek compensation.

Get Help From an Employment Law Attorney in Florida 

As an employee, your rights matter. You deserve safe and fair conditions in the workplace. Employers must be held accountable for violations of federal or state labor regulations. If you have any specific questions or concerns about Florida’s ‘right-to-work’ laws or at-will employment laws, an experienced Florida employee rights lawyer can help.

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* Cathleen Scott is licensed to practice in Florida only.

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