Commonly Asked Questions on Employment Law
Throughout the years, the dedicated legal team at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore has helped hundreds of hardworking men and women find justice and defend their rights as employees. We have received many questions from anxious. This page contains a compilation of some of the most commonly asked employment law questions and answers.
We encourage you to consult with a licensed and qualified Connecticut employment law attorney to discuss the specific details surrounding your case. He or she can provide you with deeper insight into your legal options and begin laying the legal foundation to help you pursue your claim, whether you are entering a dispute over unpaid wages or another complex legal matter.
Call 860-522-8888 or send an online message to set up your consultation with our dedicated lawyers today and learn more about your options.
Connecticut Employment Law FAQ
- Am I an employee or an independent contractor?
- I’ve been told that I am an “at will” employee. Does that mean that I have no rights?
- Does my employer have to do an investigation if I am sexually harassed?
- I frequently work more than 40 hours a week, but I do not receive overtime because my employer has designated me as a salaried worker. Can they do that regardless of my responsibilities?
- My employer’s Employee Handbook says that we are supposed to get warnings before being terminated. If they fire me without those warnings, have I got a claim?
- I have always believed that an employer cannot fire an employee without giving first giving warnings and probation. Is that true?
- My friend was fired for something she didn’t do. Does she have a claim, even though she is an “at will” employee?
- I was injured on the job and now have a permanent impairment to my back. Can they fire me if I can’t do the job as well as I once could?
- Am I entitled to my personnel file?
- Are covenants not to compete enforceable?
- Am I entitled to unemployment benefits if I quit my job?
- Does my boss have to give me sick pay?
- Am I protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)?
A: It depends on the level of control exerted over you. If you are free to work when and how you please, you are likely an independent contractor. If, however, you have detailed procedures to follow, wear a company uniform, and are told when to come and go, you are more like an employee. Many employers are classifying employees as independent contractors these days in order to save on benefits, taxes, and other costs. Employees around the country are fighting back.
A: No. Being an “at will” employee simply means that you don’t have a contract of employment for a specific period of time. You still have lots of rights, including the rights provided under the various discrimination statutes as well as rights under the common law including defamation, and negligent misrepresentation.
A: Yes. State and Federal law require employers to conduct prompt and thorough investigations of sexual harassment claims.
Q: I frequently work more than 40 hours a week, but I do not receive overtime because my employer has designated me as a salaried worker. Can they do that regardless of my responsibilities?
A: Usually not. An employer is only allowed to deny you overtime if your duties fit certain “exempt” classifications and if they pay you on a salaried basis. Just because they’ve called you “salaried” doesn’t mean they are following the law. Commonly misclassified positions include retail store managers (and assistant managers), automobile damage appraisers, secretaries (sometimes labeled “administrative assistants”), “office managers,” and others.
Q: My employer’s Employee Handbook says that we are supposed to get warnings before being terminated. If they fire me without those warnings, have I got a claim?
A: You may. Sometimes employee handbooks can be considered to be a contract by a court but many times they contain disclaimers which defeat those claims. In some instances, representations in handbooks can become relevant evidence to support other legal claims, such as discrimination. Each case is different.
Q: I have always believed that an employer cannot fire an employee without giving first giving warnings and probation. Is that true?
A: Usually not. There is no general legal obligation to give warnings before terminating someone. Promises contained in a contract or employee handbook can sometimes create such an obligation. Each case is different.
Q: >My friend was fired for something she didn’t do. Does she have a claim, even though she is an “at will” employee?
A: Perhaps. She may have a claim for defamation if the person accusing her falsely knew that the accusation was false and made the accusation in order to get her fired.
Q: I was injured on the job and now have a permanent impairment to my back. Can they fire me if I can’t do the job as well as I once could?
A: Maybe. You may have rights under State and Federal disability discrimination laws. Generally, if you have a permanent disability, you may have the right to an ‘accommodation’ in order to assist you perform the job. If your employer can provide such an accommodation without undue financial hardship, it must and it cannot usually discharge you just because you asked for such an accommodation.
A: Absolutely. In Connecticut, the Connecticut Personnel Files Act requires employers to allow employees to review and copy their personnel file. It also restricts them from distributing it without the employees written consent. It also allows the employee to submit a written explanatory statement, if for example, you received a performance review that you disagree with.
A: Usually, yes. In Connecticut, covenants not to compete are enforceable if they are supported by consideration (this means you got something in return for it), if they are not too broad in geographic scope or restrict you for too long in time. Courts can be quick to invalidate these contracts if they are too broad. Courts will also usually interpret their terms narrowly (i.e., against the employer).
A: Usually not. The general rule of unemployment is that you are not entitled to unemployment benefits if you quit. The exception to the rule is if you quit because of “sufficient cause” attributable to your employer. You also have to show that you took reasonable steps to complain before quitting.
A: In Connecticut, an employer’s obligation to pay employees for sick days is outlined under the state Department of Labor. Visit the following .pdf, “An Overview of the Paid Sick Leave Law”, to determine if your employer is non-exempt and review important definitions.
A: Not all employees are covered under the FMLA. Up to 2 weeks of unpaid leave is provided for: births, adoptions, serious illness, bone marrow donation; and illness of certain family members such as a spouse, child, step-parent, parent-in-law, or legal guardian. Whether or not your leave is covered also depends on both the size of your company and how long you’ve worked there.