The Sideshow

Law firm fires 14 employees for wearing orange shirts

Eric Pfeiffer
The Sideshow

Janice Doble, in the orange shirt that got her fired (Michael Laughlin/Sun Sentinel)

They weren't wearing sagging pants or revealing clothing. But dressing in an orange shirt is apparently enough to get fired at one Florida law firm, where 14 workers were unceremoniously let go last Friday.

In an interview with the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, several of the fired workers say they wore the matching colors so they would be identified as a group when heading out for a happy hour event after work. They say the executive who fired them initially accused them of wearing the matching color as a form of protest against management.

Orange is widely considered to be one of the most visible colors to the human eye. Orange vests are worn by most hunters as a safety precaution and by school crossing guards. Most prisoners are required to wear orange jump suits.

The color orange is arguably Florida's defining color. The self-described "Sunshine State" is widely known for its orange juice exports.

The law offices of Elizabeth R. Wellborn, P.A. offered "no comment" to Sun-Sentinel reporter Doreen Hemlock, but four ex-employees tell the paper they were simply wearing their orange shirts to celebrate "pay day" and the upcoming Friday group happy hour.

"There is no office policy against wearing orange shirts. We had no warning. We got no severance, no package, no nothing," Lou Erik Ambert told the paper. "I feel so violated."

Ironically, had the employees been wearing orange as a form of protest, it would have been illegal to fire them, ABC News reports.

[Related: Fla. aims to be first state to drug test public workers]

After the 14 employees were fired, an executive said anyone wearing orange for an "innocent reason" should speak up. At least one employee immediately denied any involvement or knowledge of a protest and explained the happy hour color coordination. Nonetheless, they were still fired.

"I'm a single mom with four kids, and I'm out of a job just because I wore orange today," Meloney McLeod told the paper.

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And there's really nothing anyone can do about the terminations since Florida is an at-will state, meaning employers can fire an employee who doesn't have a contract "for a good reason, for a bad reason or even for the wrong reason, as long as it's not an unlawful reason," Eric K. Gabrielle, a labor and employment lawyer at Stearns Weaver, told the Sun-Sentinel. Gabrielle said there was no apparent violation of the law in this case.

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