Florida is an employment-at-will state, meaning that if you do not have an employment contract for a definite term, your employer can terminate you for any or no reason, so long as it is not an illegal reason such as discrimination or retaliation. Whether you have a written contract with an employer, or you are an employee at will, Florida law protects you from being fired, facing a modification of the agreement, or paid a different amount than agreed.
Florida law also permits employers to protect against unfair competition, but not against all competition. Covenants or agreements not to compete, which must be in writing, are limited to situations in which the employer needs to protect legitimate business interests such as long-time relationships with specific customers, unique methods of meeting customers’ needs or expertise that an employee has gained solely from specialized training for which the employer has paid. An employer who cannot plead and prove such legitimate business interests, however, cannot prohibit an employee from going to work for a competitor. Noncompete agreements are vital tools used to protect employers’ trade secrets, intellectual property, and customer data, but there is a difference between effective agreement and an unenforceable intrusion into individual rights.
Sharp Law Firm often advises clients who have been terminated with or without an employment contract. We also assist employers and employees with disputes involving the interpretation and enforceability of employment contract provisions, including non-compete agreements. In addition, we represent employers and employees in drafting and negotiating underlying employment contracts. Even if you do not have an employment contract or protected status, however, you may have other remedies under Florida common law.