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I have been asked by my employer to quit my job - due to a picture of me with another employee.

Jacksonville, FL |

There was a picture taken on my birthday when I was out with people of me and another employee, my GM said I was dating him, and that it is not allowed and said I have 3 options. I quit, he quits or I stop dating him. I told him I wouldn't quit there is nothing in the employee handbook that I signed stating I can not hang out with others from work, he said it doesn't have to be written. We are not in the same dept I do not supervise him, he doesn't supervise me. I asked if I would be laid off, he said "no, we don't lay people off...I will make you quit". The company is a distributor for Anheuser Busch. I do not believe they have the rigth to make me quit over hearsay and a picture. They want me to quit so that I can not collect unemployment. Please help.

Attorney Answers 1


I wouldn't suggest quitting unless they offer you some severance or other compensation as an incentive. Otherwise, you have about zero upside and they might even argue against your unemployment if you do. Are they pressuring the male to quit, or just you? This may be a sex discrimination issue. If they fire you and not him, then you might have a discrimination claim. Of course, if they are giving you the option to stop dating him, then you can save yourself trouble if you simply stop dating him.

Florida is an at-will state, which means an employer may fire, demote, hire, promote and discipline employees for pretty much any reason, or no reason at all. The only way to change that is to urge your state legislators to pass more protections for employees.

That doesn’t mean there are no protections for employees. You should ask yourself the following questions to see if you might be covered under some employment law:

Did my supervisors make any comments indicating bias? If your supervisor made sexist jokes, said they thought women should be married and not working, or made other comments that would indicate a bias, you may have direct evidence of discrimination.

Was I treated differently than others in the same situation? If you don’t have direct evidence of discrimination, you may be able demonstrate you were treated differently than those of a different race, sex, religion, national origin, age, or other protected status under the same circumstances. Try to think of people who are of a different race/age/sex, etc. and were treated differently from you. Find out if there are people who have also been the victims of similar discrimination. Has anyone else dated in the workplace? What happened to them?

Why was I really fired? Most employees have a pretty good idea why they were fired. If you made a worker’s compensation claim and were fired a week later, that’s a good indication you were fired in retaliation for making the claim. If you reported your supervisor for Medicare fraud, and then the supervisor fires you, you may have a whistleblower claim.

Am I in some protected category? If you were fired after you took some protected action, you may be able to sue for retaliation. Think about whether you recently made a worker’s compensation claim, performed jury duty, served in the military, took family/medical leave, served as a witness in a lawsuit, provided testimony or evidence to EEOC, refused to participate in illegal activity, or reported illegal activity. That might explain why they are singling you out on this issue.

If you believe something illegal has happened, contact an attorney to discuss the possibility that you may have a case.

What if I don’t think something illegal happened? Even if nothing illegal happened, many employers will discuss a severance agreement with an employment attorney hired to negotiate with them. As an attorney who has been practicing since 1986 in employment law, I find that sometimes an amicable transition is the best way for both employer and employee to move on in a positive direction. If you are offered a severance package, it is best to have an attorney review it prior to signing. Many employment attorneys will work to negotiate a better package for you.

The best course of action when terminated, particularly where you believe there was no just cause, is to contact an attorney who handles employment law to discuss your options.

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