Fashion, Fashion Is Fun, Labor / Employment, Paralegals, Small Law Firms

Orange: A Color That Can Get You Fired in Florida

Which t-shirt will get you fired?

Yesterday in Morning Docket, we mentioned that more than a dozen law firm staffers in Florida had been fired because they wore orange shirts to work, but the tips kept rolling in. We’re going to give you what you want. Better late than never, right?

Given that orange is popping this spring in designers’ color palettes, people really want to know more about this apparent fashion “faux pas.” Because if looking like a walking traffic cone is wrong, then some people don’t want to be right.

But if it means that they’re going to get fired, then they might just reconsider staying on trend this season….

According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, employees at the law firm of Elizabeth R. Wellborn P.A. had been wearing orange shirts on payday for the past several months so they’d look like a happy little chain gang for Friday happy hours. But last Friday was a day of reckoning for the law firm’s orange-shirted staff members:

14 workers wearing orange shirts were called into a conference room, where an executive said 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. One employee immediately denied involvement with a protest and explained the happy-hour color.

The executives conferred outside the room, returned and upheld the decision: all fired.

Fourteen law firm staff members were fired for wearing orange. What is this, Mean Girls? Is it mandatory that they wear pink on Wednesdays? Here’s what one of the now-unemployed paralegals had to say:

“There is no office policy against wearing orange shirts. We had no warning. We got no severance, no package, no nothing. I feel so violated.”

I’d feel violated, too, especially if I were fired because I willingly decided to wear the most unflattering color in the world. In girl world, that’s like adding insult to a particularly grievous injury.

And the most ridiculous part of this firing en masse? Florida is an at-will employment state, and that means employees can be fired for just about anything that’s within the bounds of the law. The Sun-Sentinel consulted with a labor and employment attorney who noted that “[n]o violation of the law jump[ed] out” to her.

Key takeaway: in Florida, it’s legal to discriminate against a t-shirt that’s the color of the state’s main export.

Orange-shirted employees fired at law firm, workers report [South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
Staffers at Florida Mortgage Law Firm Say They Were Fired for Wearing Orange [ABA Journal]

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