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OFF BEAT: Florida law firm employees fired for wearing orange shirts


Has the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission considered issuing regulations forbidding discrimination on the basis of the color of workers’ clothes? If they do, a group of former law firm employees just may have a case.

According to news reports, a group of employees at the Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based Law Offices of Elizabeth R. Wellborn P.A. wore orange on payday Fridays so they would look like a group when they went out for happy hour drinks later.

But apparently this was misinterpreted. Last Friday, a group of 14 workers wearing orange shirts were called into a conference room and told by an executive he understood there was a protest involving orange, the employees were wearing orange, and they all were fired.

The executive said anyone wearing orange for an innocent reason should speak up. But even after an employee explained the reason for the shirts, the terminations were upheld. A spokeswoman for the firm, which represents mortgage lenders, servicers and private investors, had no comment, according to reports.

Employment lawyers have pointed out that because Florida is an “at-will” state, employers there do not have to have good reason to fire a worker.

Perhaps ironically, though, as one blogger has pointed out, if the workers had been wearing orange to protest working conditions, they would have been protected under federal law.