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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 116291
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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My wife has been employed by HCA hosptitals in west palm beach

Resolved Question:

My wife has been employed by HCA hosptitals in west palm beach florida for 31 years as a registered nurse. Last week HCA terminated the positions of 45 nurses. She is worried about her employment continuation. (she was not terminated. but remains concerned.) I want to know what her maximun compensation would be, including severance, insurance, vacation and any other compensation she is entitled to. I want to know what minimum requirements HCA is responsible for. I want to know if a severance lawyer is required or if, since she in not an executive, she has to take what is offered. I have heard that severance packages (legally reqired in Florida?) can include up to two weeks salary for every year worked. Please proide detailed information in the event she is terminated without just cause. Any additional compensatory info would be greatfully apprecitated. Thanks john
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
Absent a written contract to the contrary severance packages are NOT required by law, in fact Florida's laws for employment are some of the least favorable in the US for employees. Absent a written contract for employment, the employee is an at will employee and can be terminated for any reason at all as long as it is not based solely on age/race/sex/disability. There is no FL or Federal law mandating severance, and FL does not mandate payment of unused vacation pay at termination unless the employer has a policy in place to do so.

Severance is something employees can try to negotiate with the employer, but it is not something the employer is mandated to provide unless they have a written agreement to do so. Generally, when severance is offered the average for a regular non-management employee is 1-2 weeks per year of employment and benefit payments for that same number of weeks. In exchange, the employer will insist that the employee waive all rights to sue for any reason. But again, this is something that is at the discretion of the employer and is not mandated by the laws in FL or the US.

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Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I was not satified with this answer. I expected more specific info about HCA's policies upon termination. I'm trying to be proactive for future possibilities. (Such as whether they provide one or two weeks per years worked. I found your answers the same as which I read on the internet for pedestrian possibities.) I want to know specifics about this corp and their policies concerning unjustified termination and the resultant actions one could take. (Such as age descrimination, paid vacation, or any other action that could result in compensation.) You have provided me with nothing more than other (free) internet info that I have already availed myself of. My wife is 61 years old and I suspect that age descrimination is a possibility irrespective of years of service. If you find it inconvenient or against your ethics to expand with specifics for her company please let me know and I will discontinue continued pursuit. I have used your service serveral times, but I truly understand certain constraints that you operate under legally. john
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
I provided you the information on the laws. We do not have their employee manuals, if you want those you need to get the employee manual from the employer. I am telling you that severance is not mandated by law, I am not privy to their employee handbook to read as your wife who is an employee is. Also, vacation time that is not used, this would have to be specified as being paid on termination in the handbook. Again, I do not have a handbook to read, it would have to be specified in there in order for her to be entitled to it under the law. All I can advise you on is what the laws themselves provide which I have done. Every company has different policies, even if you were to go into an attorney's office if you needed interpretation on HCA's policies you would have to bring them the handbook to review and I believe you are being overly unfair in your criticism because we do not have access to that manual. If you want to know their specific policies, since the laws do not mandate they provide severance or payment of vacation time, you need to read the handbook. As far as negotiation of severance, this is something an employee can do, but again, unless they have a mandate to pay severance in their handbook (which again we do not have access to read) the employer does not even have to entertain such negotiation.

I know you may have been expecting more, but again, we are not privy to handbooks from every employer and without that we cannot interpret the employer's individual policies.

Suspecting age discrimination and proving it are two different things. There have been several court cases recently where only workers over 40 were terminated by an employer. They sued for age discrimination. The case was dismissed at summary judgment because the court found that it is normal that most older workers are also the highest paid because of seniority and when an employer shows they laid off older workers because of economic reasons of them being higher paid and replaced them with younger workers who were paid less money, this was not age discrimination, but a valid economic reason. If there is some additional evidence besides just the fact she is 61, such as comments about age in the workplace or them treating her differently than workers under 40 in some way other than just a layoff, then this is something she would bring as a complaint with the EEOC (unless they give her a severance where they will make her sign a waiver agreeing to not make any claims of discrimination which they will insist on for her to get the severance) and the EEOC would have to investigate before she could go to court as part of the requirement of exhausting administrative remedies before going to court.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I remain dissatisfied at the scope of your capabilities to access specific information such as employee handbooks. Surely, at this point you can recognize my wifes reluctance to seek out such info at this time considering her job vulnerability. I'm okaying your fee, and if you accept this I will communicate my dissapointment to your administrator. Do what you like.......charge my account or not , but I can assure you that I've acheived much more specific satisfaction from your electronic division. I can appreciate the limitations of your position, but access is everything germaine to my original question. I bear no resentment only than dissatisfaction......sorry but try to look at it from my point of view. Your next response will result in my acceptance.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 7 years ago.
I am sorry that you are dissatisfied. You are free to get your deposit back from customer service if you contact them.

I do not know what else to tell you. While we have access to laws both federal and from all states and we can advise you on that, you need to be realistic and realize that it is impossible for any attorney to have access to all employer's handbooks and policies, it is just impossible. Your wife should have a handbook already or should be able to get one without raising suspicion.

As customer satisfaction is the goal of JustAnswer, you are not obligated to pay for this answer and I do not expect you to do so if you are not dissatisfied. I just ask that you please be honest in realizing that what you are asking (that we have access to a specific employer's handbook to look at their policies) is not realistic and even if you were to go sit in a local attorney's office they would not have that information unless you brought it to them. We can advise you on the actual laws, which I have done, but again, the handbook policies vary with every employer and the only way to advise you on that is if you made them available. I have no resentment towards you and if you are dissatisfied you are dissatisfied, but please realize that the unfairness is you are seemingly blaming the expert for not providing you with what you want when the experts have no access to what they need to provide you what you are seeking.

No need to pay if you are not satisfied (and I do not expect you to do so as you can see by my feedback rating I work hard to please customers, but sometimes that is just impossible based upon the circumstances as it is here with the information you are expecting), but without the access to those handbook policies to review, there is nothing anyone on this site or any other website or even a local attorney can do to give you that specific information you are seeking.
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