Being fired or let go from your job is a devastating experience, and it’s very natural to feel wronged after losing your job. Connecticut and Massachusetts are at-will employment states, meaning that most terminations, fair or not, are legal.
However, workers have rights, and there are laws in place to protect against wrongful termination. If you’ve been terminated due to discriminatory practices, or if you were fired after exercising a legal right, like the right to file for worker’s compensation or take Family Medical Leave Act time, you may have a claim against your former employer.
Connecticut and Massachusetts Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you’ve been fired for a legally wrong reason, contact the dedicated legal team at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore. Our experienced employment lawyers represent workers who have been let go from their jobs in violation of the law. Contact us using our online form, where you can explain how you were wrongfully terminated.
With offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts, we are proud to represent the victims of wrongful termination, including men and women in the communities of Milford, Hartford, New Haven, Fairfield, Bridgeport and Stamford, among others.
Wrongful Firing Information Center
- How is At-Will Employment Defined?
- Illegal Termination Based on Employer Discrimination
- Firing Based on Complaints from Coworkers
- Unlawful Defamation by Employer After Termination
- Legal Protections Against Retaliatory Firings
- The Impact of Employment Contracts Post-Termination
- Resources for CT Workers Fired Illegally
- Resources for MA Workers Fired Illegally
Connecticut and Massachusetts, along with a vast majority of other states, practice “at-will employment.”At-will employment means that an employer can, legally, fire you for almost any reason. For instance, if you walked into the office with a new haircut, it would be legal for your boss to fire you on the spot if he or she didn’t like it. The firing may not be fair, justified or rational, but it would be legal.
However, there are exceptions to the ability of an employer to fire at will. Laws and public policy are in place in Connecticut to prevent wrongful termination.
It is illegal for an employer to fire anyone when it is motivated by discrimination against the person’s race, sex, age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation or military service. Both federal and state laws forbid such actions.
This includes obvious scenarios, for instance, if you were to tell your boss you were gay, and he or she immediately said, “I can’t have gay people working here. You are fired.” While these situations do occur, they are rare. Usually, discrimination in termination is more subtle.
For example, Jane is African American and works as a saleswoman for a store. One day, she and another saleswoman get into a dispute over a work-related matter. Jane’s boss says that Jane was behaving “ghetto,” and fires her.
Or: Leslie is Latina, and works as an office administrator. She gets her work done in a timely fashion, but her boss comments that he is concerned she is “lazy.” One day, Leslie takes lunch with two coworkers, who are white. They are 10 minutes late returning. The boss disciplines the two coworkers but fires Leslie.
In such instances, your Connecticut employment lawyer will look for evidence of any and all discrimination. It’s important to write down casual comments that your boss makes and document your treatment in comparison to other coworkers.
Firing Based on Complaints from Coworkers
It’s natural to complain about your job. Sometimes, those complaints get people fired when the employer looks to rid the company of “troublemakers.” However, these types of workplace complaints may, under certain circumstances, be protected by Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act as “concerted activities.”
The law protects the abilities of workers in Connecticut and Massachusetts and across the country to organize to collectively bargain and address grievances, and some instances of employees complaining about workplace conditions, salaries or other issues may be covered under the Act.
Additionally, if an employee sees illegal or unlawful activity at the workplace, he or she may not be fired for:
Even though at-will employment means that the state’s employers don’t have to give any reason for firing a person, for a variety of reasons, employers often keep records of why exactly they fired employees. If an employer has to give a “good reason,” they might embellish the facts — or, sometimes, make some up.
However, if an employer makes up a reason to fire an employee, that employee may have a cause of action or reason to sue, called “defamation.” Under Conn. employment law, defamation is when a person lies either in writing or orally to a third person about that employee. The lie also has to harm the employee’s reputation or cause his termination.
In the context of employment, defamation usually occurs when an employee’s boss lies to HR about them in order to get them fired. HR usually relies on the manager’s statement and approves the discharge. Intra-company communications like this require the employee to prove “malice” which includes either that the employer knew that the statement was false when communicating it or acted with reckless disregard for the truth, or that the employer had an ulterior motive for the firing.
Connecticut law and Massachusetts law protect workers who exercise their legal rights. Employers may not fire employees who exercise free speech, file a workers’ compensation claim, or oppose discriminatory conduct in the workplace. A person who reports sexual harassment of a co-worker cannot be fired for reporting it.
Employers throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut can also not fire or let go of an employee because the employee properly used his or her Family Medical Leave Act time. FMLA time is guaranteed by federal law.
If you engaged in legally protected conduct, including opposing discrimination, filing a workers’ compensation claim or requested FMLA time and were fired shortly thereafter, you might have a claim for a retaliatory termination.
Employers must honor their contracts with employees. If there is an employment contract, the employer must follow the terms of the contract. There are often provisions in employment contracts that allow the employer to terminate the employee for “cause.” This usually means that the employee had to do something wrong and that termination is not too severe a punishment. Disputes with employment contracts can be about whether the provision in the contract was met.
In Massachusetts and Connecticut, there may also be an implied-in-fact contract between an employer and an employee. Contracts may be explicit agreements in writing. Sometimes the words of an employee handbook, including progressive discipline sections, can be binding on the employer. In such instances, the law may find that such an agreement existed.
State of Connecticut Department of Labor – This state Department is responsible for overseeing the welfare of employees and employers. This is done through the promotion of safe work environments, monitoring Fair Labor Law implementation, administering unemployment insurance, and other crucial tasks.Connecticut Department of Labor
200 Folly Brook Boulevard
Wethersfield, CT 06109
The United States Department of Labor – The country’s Labor Department carries responsibility for the monumental task of ensuring fair treatment of employees, job seekers, retirees, and employers. The DoL also enforces more than 180 labor laws that impact over 125 million workers across the country.U.S. Department of Labor
200 Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20210
Connecticut Employment Lawyers Association (CELA) – Our attorneys are members of CELA, a nonprofit state organization dedicated to the promotion of fair labor laws and ethical treatment of employees. This prestigious association further strives to share knowledge within the state’s legal community.
Massachusetts Court System– The Massachusetts Court System provides important information about Massachusetts employment termination law, including state law, case law, and print resources.
Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association (MELA)- MELA is an organization dedicated to increasing awareness, advocacy, and support to attorneys who devote the majority of their practice to representing employees.
Workplace Fairness – This national nonprofit organization was built upon a foundation of common sense understanding of often complex labor law language. To this end, the organization distributes clear and concise information about employee rights and also fosters a community of national advocates.
Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore | Hartford Wrongful Termination Lawyer
While the protections in place for workers are narrow, an unjust firing can happen and right can be upheld. If you were fired due to discrimination, taking FMLA leave, filing for workers’ compensation or any other illegal reason, talk to the Hartford wrongful termination lawyers at Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore.