Canaveral Port Authority Chief Executive Officer Stan Payne narrowly survived an effort by two port commissioners to terminate his contract. The CEO was accused of trying to unlawfully bill the port for personal tax planning. Concerns were also raised about his management of the port. The port commissioners took a vote, and the outcome was 3-2 against terminating Payne.
In Florida, terminated employees may have a claim for wrongful discharge or termination if their employment contract prohibits the employer from discharging employees without cause.
In this case, the CEO had an employment contract. However, even employment contracts must comply within the scope of applicable state and federal laws. Here, because the allegation against the CEO involved a cause-based allegation (and perhaps even embezzlement), the terms of his employment contract probably offered few protections against such a charge.
Membership in unions subject to collective bargaining agreements with an employer is another way Florida professionals may obtain workplace protections against wrongful termination. In such event, the terms of the CBA govern the employment relationship, creating job protections not available to traditional at-will employees. Typically, collective bargaining agreements specify how employment disputes are to be resolved, which in many cases is by arbitration.
Yet even at-will employees, who can be terminated with or without case, may have a legal claim when their dismissal was for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation, or because of other improper motives. Either way, being terminated from your job can damage your reputation and self-esteem, have an effect on future employment opportunities, and cause a loss of income. At a time like that, you need an attorney to stand up for you and fight for your rights and interests.
Source: Florida Today, “Port CEO survives termination vote,” Dave Berman, July 3, 2012