Being fired from your job can be a very unsettling experience. You put your heart and soul into a company, and you have been loyal to them for a long time. Then one day, they just decide to let you go with no explanation. When this happens, it is fair to ask “why” you were let go, and if you might have a wrongful termination case.
Connecticut, like most other states, is an “at will” employment state. This means that most employees in the state can be terminated any time for any reason, as long as the reason for termination is not in violation of the law or an employment contract. Even if you did not deserve to be fired or the reasons for your termination were not fair, this does not necessarily mean that your employer violated your rights.
What Constitutes Wrongful Termination in Connecticut?
Though employees in Connecticut can be terminated for almost any reason, there are some notable exceptions. These include:
Employers cannot terminate an employee based on a protected class or characteristic. In Connecticut, it is illegal to terminate employees on the basis of:
- National Origin
- Genetic Information
- Marital Status
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
Violations of Federal and State Work Leave Laws
Federal and state laws give employees the right to request time off from work for certain duties and personal obligations. Examples include:
- Family Medical Leave: The federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows individuals who work for companies with 50 or more employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave per year for serious health conditions, to care for a newborn, to care for a family member with a serious health condition, and similar issues. Connecticut FMLA laws cover additional loved ones, such as parents-in-law, civil union partners, and children of civil union partners.
- Jury Duty: Those who are employed full-time are entitled to be paid regular wages for their first five days of jury duty. If an employer terminates an employee for going to jury duty, they may be subject to criminal penalties on top of the civil damages from a wrongful termination lawsuit.
- Military Leave: Federal law allows those who serve in the military to take up to five years off and be reinstated when they return from active duty. Connecticut extends these protections to members of the National Guard and the state’s armed forces.
- Sick Leave: Service workers in Connecticut who work for companies with 50 or more employees have the right to take up to five days of sick leave per year.
An employer is not allowed to terminate an employee in retaliation for engaging in a protected activity, such as:
- Whistleblowing: Employers cannot terminate or take any other negative action against someone who reports unlawful or (potentially unlawful) behavior or participates in an investigation or legal proceeding related to this behavior. Examples may include filing a complaint or supporting a claim of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
- Reporting Work Safety Violations: If you called OSHA or another government agency to report a danger or hazard in the workplace, your employer cannot terminate you in retaliation.
- Workers’ Compensation Claims: If you were injured or became ill at work and your employer carries workers’ compensation insurance, you have the right to file a claim for your injuries. If an employer fires or demotes you for exercising your rights under workers’ comp laws, they are in violation of the law.
Breach of Employment Contracts
If you have a contract that spells out certain terms and conditions under which your employer can fire you, you may not be an “at will” employee. One common example is a union collective bargaining agreement, which usually states the specific reasons for which a union employee can be fired. Employment contracts in Connecticut may be written, verbal, or implied.
Speak with a Knowledgeable Hartford Employment Law Attorney
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated from your Connecticut employer, it is important to document as much as possible regarding your case. Keep records of all relevant conversations you had with your manager/supervisor and co-workers and retain any other evidence that will help substantiate your claim. Next, get in touch with a skilled wrongful termination lawyer right away. There is a limited timeframe with which to file a claim, so it is best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
At The APEX Law Firm, LLC, we have extensive experience representing clients who were wrongfully terminated from their job. We work closely with clients to provide the personalized representation they deserve, and we fight hard to protect our clients’ rights and interests. For a consultation with one of our attorneys, call us at (860) 900-0900, visit our Hartford County office in person, or send us a message for a free case evaluation.