The state of Florida is host to millions of people with diverse political ideologies. At times, the ideologies of one individual may conflict with those of another individual. This is a completely normal occurrence and can lead to a fruitful discussion between the two. However what happens when the relationship between these two individuals is one of employee and employer? What happens when the employer decides to fire the employee based on this difference of opinion? Keep reading to find out if there is recourse against political discrimination.
Federal Employment Law
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Read our article on workplace discrimination), the ADEA (Read our article on age discrimination), and the ADA (Read our article on the ADA) outline the protected classes protected under Federal law. Political beliefs and philosophies are not a protected class thus political discrimination against them is not protected on a federal level. While there may be no federal law protecting you from expressing your political opinion, state laws will vary on what protections they offer. (i.e Affidavit of Corroborating Witness)
Florida Employment Law
Florida is an at-will employment state, allowing your employer to fire you for any reason as long as the firing is not discriminatory against a protected class. This means that while you are protected against being fired for your ethnicity or gender, you are not protected against being fired for your political opinions. However, there are exceptions to this lack of protection against political discrimination.
Against Political Discrimination
The state of Florida, while being an emploment-at-will state, still offers some protection against employers punishing their employees for the expression of their political beliefs. Florida Statutes 104.081 disallows employers from firing employees for exercising their choice to vote or not. If an employee stated their intention of voting for a certain candidate and received a threat of discharge from their employer ,they can take recourse against this threat. Filing a complaint against the employer, citing Florida Statutes 104.081, allows the employee to file a whistleblower claim if they are discharged. This allows the employee to seek recourse if they are fired because they exercised their right to vote.
Exceptions to Lack of Protection Against Political Discrimination
Florida Statutes 104.081, while protecting your right to vote, does not truly offer broad protections against political discrimination. The reality is the state of Florida is that in most cases your employer is within their rights to fire you if they don’t like your political affiliation or activism. However, if you can prove that the discrimination you face is not just political but based on a protected class then you might have a genuine grievance you can bring against your employer. Imagine two employees under the same employer attend a protest, one black, and one white. The next day the black employee is fired while the white employee is just given a reprimand. This is racial discrimination and is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. By understanding your rights as an employee, you may find cause for a legitimate complaint of discrimination.
It may wise to recognize that political discrimination can often go hand in hand with discrimination against a protected class. Discrimination can be subtle and hard to recognize. Its effects are not just tangible but detrimental to your workplace experience. Here at PereGonza The Attorneys, our experienced employment law attorneys can help you with questions of workplace discrimination. If what you find yourself facing is illegal discrimination, we may be able to help you find proper recourse. Fill out our personal intake form for more information.