By: Charles B. Jimerson, Esq. and Robert O’Linn
Today’s labor market can be generally characterized by high job turnover. Nationwide, in November 2010, over four million employment positions were filled and nearly an equal number of employment relationships were severed. Understanding the relationship between employers and their current and prospective employees is very important in a national labor market with a job turnover rate of approximately two percent of the labor force per month. The predominant and default employment arrangement in the United States is “Employment-at-Will. In Florida, an employment agreement that does not provide for a specified duration of employment, in the absence of surrounding facts that could be construed as a durational restriction, is recognized as an agreement to employment at will. See Savannah, F. & W. RY. CO. v. Willet, 31 So. 246, 314 (Fla. 1901). Employment-at-will allows for the termination of employment at any time by either the employer or employee. See e.g. Demarco v. Publix Super Markets, Inc., 360 So. 2d 134, 136 (“The established law is that where the term of employment is discretionary with either party or indefinite, then either party for any reason may terminate it at any time and no action may be maintained for breach of the employment contract.”)
In a labor market with high job turnover, employers and employees are constantly creating new employment relationships and severing previous employment relationships. When an employee makes a transition from an existing employer to a new employer, they usually give notice to their existing employer and effectively sever the employment relation with their existing employer. The at-will doctrine allows employees the flexibility to do this. The drawback to this flexibility comes when the employee relies on an offer for new employment and then the offer is rescinded by the prospective employer. This situation has received varied treatment across jurisdictions.
This post describes how this situation is treated in Florida courts.