Deerfield Beach - While the former employees say they wore orange on paydays so they would stand out as a group when they went out after work, management viewed their attire as a protest against the firm and fired them.
On Friday, an executive of Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A. called the 14 employees into a conference room. The staffers all had one thing in common; they were all wearing orange shirts or tops.
The executive told the group the firm believed they were all wearing orange as a form of protest against their employer. If that was the case, they would all be fired. One of the employees explained there was no protest. The 14 all wore orange on paydays because they would get together after work on Fridays and socialize. They all wore the same colour so they would be seen as a group when they went to partake in "Happy Hour."
The executive then left the conference room, presumably to consult with others. Upon return, the 14 employees were immediately terminated.
Some of the dismissed employees spoke with the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Lou Erik Ambert, 31, a former paralegal with the firm, said,
There is no office policy against wearing orange shirts. We had no warning. We got no severance, no package, no nothing.
Meloney McLeod, 39, said,
I'm a single mom with four kids and I'm out of a job because I wore orange today.
And Janice Doble, 50, who supervised 12 mail room employees, said,
I have four kids who work there. I don't want them to retaliate and fire my kids.
But retaliate they can. Employment law in Florida is based upon the doctrine of "at will employment." Under that doctrine an employee can be terminated without the employer having to give cause and without notice at any time. Similarly, an employee can quit without giving a reason or notice.
As the Palm Beach law firm of Akers & Boswell, P.A. so eloquently put it,
...an employer in Florida may hire and fire any employee at any time for any reason. It doesn't matter if there is no reason, a bad reason, a good reason, or just the result of a whimsical decision.
According to its website, Elizabeth R. Wellborn founded the Deerfield Beach firm in 2003. A real estate firm, Wellborn represents primarily mortgage lenders and private investors. The firm says it is able to provide comprehensive banking and mortgage services throughout Florida because of "our well trained multilingual staff of attorneys, paralegals, legal assistants and business professionals."
When contacted by the Sun Sentinel in the wake of the firings, a spokeswoman for the law firm said, "No comment."