Please note this blog post is written for employers, although we understand it may be of interest to employees as well. At this time, our firm only represents business owners and employers. If you need assistance with a legal matter as an employee, please consult a firm that represents employees.

Florida Firing Laws

Florida Firing Laws Employers Need to know

Employees and employers alike may wonder: Can you be fired for no reason in Florida?

The answer is yes. Florida laws on firing employees classify the state as an “at-will” state, which means that in most cases, Florida firing laws permit an employer to fire an employee at any time with or without cause.

In Florida, as in many states, employment is presumed to be at-will unless a specific agreement states otherwise. Absent a contract or collective bargaining agreement, the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice.

This remains true as long as the dismissal is not illegal or discriminatory and doesn’t contradict any effective employment agreements. The employer also doesn’t need to give advance notice of termination, nor does the employee.

Nevertheless, there are a few situations where firing an employee can get an employer into hot water, so it’s important to understand the limitations. Additionally, it’s important to understand legal obligations you may have to an employee after firing them.

A knowledgeable employment law attorney can help you develop policies and procedures to ensure that you comply with Florida laws on firing employees. Read on to learn more about what these laws require, how employers can avoid violating them, and how the employment law team at BrewerLong can help if you run into any issues.

How to Fire an Employee Legally in Florida

Because Florida is an at-will state, you can generally fire employees without cause or notice.

As with any rule, however, there are exceptions. You cannot fire an employee under Florida employment law if termination is for an illegal reason or goes against the terms of an employment contract.

Don’t Terminate an Employee for Illegal Reasons

Although you can usually terminate an employee for any reason or no reason, some reasons are illegal.

If you fire an attorney for one of these illegal reasons, you may face a wrongful termination suit from the terminated employee.


Federal and Florida state law prohibits employers from firing employees based on:

  • Race,
  • Color,
  • Religion,
  • Sex,
  • Gender identity,
  • Pregnancy,
  • Sexual orientation,
  • National origin,
  • Age,
  • Disability, or
  • Genetic information.

In addition to these categories, Florida law prohibits employment discrimination based on marital status or AIDS/HIV.


Federal law prohibits employers from terminating employees in retaliation for a number of protected activities such as:

  • Filing a complaint or complaining to an employer about discrimination or harassment;
  • Participating in a discrimination or harassment investigation;
  • Requesting accommodations for a religious practice or disability;
  • Complaining about unfair labor practices;
  • Taking leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA);
  • Participating in a union; or
  • Reporting hazardous working conditions.

Florida has enacted additional laws that protect employees from retaliatory termination for things like:

  • Reporting an employer’s legal violations;
  • Participating in an investigation into alleged violations;
  • Claiming workers’ compensation; or
  • Reporting government waste or gross mismanagement (in the case of public employees).

This does not mean that employees in these circumstances cannot be terminated for valid reasons. But employers should tread carefully in such situations because a disgruntled employee may allege that the purportedly valid reason is just a pretext for retaliation.

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Comply with the Terms of Employment Contracts

Employees and employers can choose to alter their at-will relationship with an employment contract. This may contain provisions that require good cause for termination, a certain amount of notice, or other restrictions.

If you fire an employee in violation of the terms of an employment agreement, you could be sued for breach of contract.

Provide Proper Notice for Large-Scale Layoffs

One other law you should be aware of is the federal Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. This federal law requires you to give 60 days’ notice if you intend to lay off either 50 or more employees at one location or more than 1/3 of your full-time workforce.

Discuss Your Case with BrewerLong Schedule your consultation today.

Florida Employment Law After Termination

Florida laws on firing employees also require you to do a few things after you have let an employee go.

Pay Remaining Wages

Florida does not require you to pay a terminated employee’s outstanding wages immediately.

However, you do need to be sure to pay them what they are owed by the next regular payday after they are fired.

Provide Healthcare Coverage

If you have 20 or more employees and offer optional group healthcare coverage, you have to allow the employee to maintain their coverage for up to 18 months following termination. This rule is governed by the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA.

Even though you have to allow the employee to continue coverage, you don’t have to pay for it. Unless you elect to subsidize COBRA as part of a severance package, the employee will have to pay both the employee and employer’s share of the insurance if they want to stay on the group plan.

Pay Unemployment Benefits

Unless the employee was fired for malicious conduct, they will be able to apply for unemployment benefits after they are terminated.

Unemployment benefits will not pose an immediate cost to an employer, because they are paid for through reemployment taxes paid by the employer. However, your Florida reemployment tax rate is affected, over time, by the amount of benefits paid out for your former employees.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some frequently asked questions for employers regarding firing workers in Florida.

Are There Any Laws in Florida that Restrict Firing Employees?

Yes. Florida employers must comply with both federal and state anti-discrimination laws. Under federal law, you cannot terminate an employee based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, or disability.

In addition, Florida has its employee termination laws and regulations prohibiting employment discrimination. The Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or marital status.

Florida employers must be cautious when terminating employees to ensure their actions are not discriminatory based on these protected characteristics. Violating these laws can result in legal action and potential liability for the employer.

Can I Fire an Employee for Poor Performance or Misconduct?

Yes. You can generally fire an employee for poor performance or misconduct in Florida. The state follows the at-will employment doctrine, which means that absent a contract or collective bargaining agreement specifying otherwise, either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause, and with or without notice.

However, it is essential to ensure that the termination is not based on discriminatory reasons or in retaliation for the employee exercising their legal rights. Documenting poor performance or misconduct can help support your decision and protect against potential legal challenges.

Do I Need to Provide Notice or Severance Pay When Terminating an Employee in Florida?

Employers are generally not required by state law to provide notice or severance pay when terminating an employee unless such provisions are specifically outlined in an employment contract or agreement.

However, employers firing or laying off many workers at one time should review any applicable federal laws, such as the WARN Act. Should it apply, the law requires employers to notify employees in certain situations, such as plant closures or mass layoffs, as mentioned above.

It’s advisable to consult with an employment law attorney, like one from BrewerLong, to ensure compliance with all relevant laws. 

What Steps Should I Take to Legally Terminate an Employee in Florida?

To legally terminate an employee in Florida, start by documenting the reasons for termination, ensuring they are valid and not discriminatory. Review your company’s policies or employee handbook for specific procedures. Provide the employee with a clear explanation of the reasons for termination.

If there are any legal concerns or questions, consult an employment law attorney to ensure compliance with federal and state laws. Additionally, consider offering the employee any entitled benefits, such as accrued vacation or severance pay, as outlined in your company’s policies or employment agreement.

Do I Need to Provide a Termination Letter or Document to the Employee?

While not required by law in Florida, providing a termination letter or document to the employee is advisable to help protect the employer in case of legal action. This document should include the reasons for termination, effective date, any final wages or benefits owed, and information about continuing health insurance coverage, if applicable.

A termination letter can help clarify the reasons for the employee’s departure and protect the employer against potential legal claims. It also serves as a formal termination record, which can be helpful in disputes or unemployment claims.

​​Can an Employee Sue Me for Wrongful Termination in Florida?

Yes. Employees can sue for wrongful termination if they believe they were fired for discriminatory reasons or in violation of their employment contract. Florida, like many states, follows the at-will employment doctrine, which allows employers to terminate employees for any reason that is not illegal or discriminatory.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Suppose an employee can show that they were terminated based on their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, or genetic information. In that case, they may have a valid wrongful termination claim. If the termination violates an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, the employee may also have grounds for a lawsuit.

It’s essential for employers to carefully document the reasons for termination and ensure that they comply with all applicable laws to avoid wrongful termination claims.

BrewerLong Can Help You Comply with Florida Firing Laws

Firing an employee is a straightforward business in most cases. But if you face issues of possible discrimination, retaliation, or breach of contract, Florida laws on firing employees can become complex.

The particular situation involving an employer’s relationship with an employee before termination and the reason for termination is critically important to the employer’s exposure to a claim of wrongful termination. Talking with an attorney before terminating an employee is always best.

Employment Law Attorney Kristi Benson

BrewerLong is an employment law firm for employers. We take a proactive approach to help you avoid employment suits. We can help you develop procedures, draft policies, and even train your human resources team to help your business stay compliant with Florida employment laws. We can also defend you against wrongful termination, discrimination, breach of contract, or any other employment-related claim.

Call us or contact us online today to learn how we can help protect your business.

This blog post is provided on an “as is” and “as available” basis as of the date of publication. We disclaim any duty to update or correct any information contained in this blog post, including errors, even if we are notified about them. To the fullest extent permitted by law, we disclaim all representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, with respect to the information contained in this blog post, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title, non-infringement, accuracy, completeness, and timeliness. We will not be liable for damages of any kind arising from or in connection with your use of or reliance on this blog post, including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, and punitive damages. You agree to use this blog post at your own risk. Regarding your particular circumstances, we recommend that you consult your own legal counsel–hopefully BrewerLong.

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