If you believe your employment ended for unjust or illegal reasons, you may be wondering whether you have legitimate grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. There is an important distinction between losing a job for reasons you either disagree with or don’t understand and being wrongfully terminated in violation of the law.
Connecticut employment laws and your rights
Connecticut is an at-will employment state. Essentially, this means that employers are within their rights to terminate an employee at any time, for any lawful reason or for no reason at all. This can create confusion and frustration with ex-employees who are let go without being given a substantial cause for termination, or who disagree with the reason provided by the employer. Unfortunately, being let go without warning and/or seemingly without cause is not, in and of itself, a viable basis for a wrongful termination lawsuit in Connecticut.
On the contrary, there are many reasons for which employees cannot be terminated lawfully. Many, including the following, have to do with discrimination based on minority or protected class:
- Race or color
- Ancestry or national origin
- Religious affiliation or lack thereof
- Military status
- Sex, gender, gender identity or gender expression
- Sexual orientation
- Genetic information
- Mental health status
- Intellectual impairment
- Learning disability
- Physical disability, including blindness
Other unlawful grounds for termination concern employees’ rights and protections within the workplace:
- For refusing to commit a crime at the employer’s behest
- For absence under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- For exercising free speech, assembly, or other constitutional rights
- In retaliation of whistleblowing, of legal action against the employer or an employee, or of seeking workers’ compensation benefits
Finally, it is unlawful to terminate an employee if the act of termination or reason for termination violates an existing employment contract.
How do I prove I have a case?
If you believe that you were, in fact, let go for unlawful reasons, it may be time to consider filing a wrongful termination lawsuit. The most important issue in many employment termination cases is proving the reason for the employer’s action. Direct evidence that an employer acted for an unlawful reason, such as statements by a person involved in making the decision which reflect a discriminatory bias or retaliatory motive, is often very persuasive evidence. But, that type of evidence is not available in many cases.
In the absence of direct evidence, employees can still prove that they were terminated for an unlawful reason based on circumstantial evidence, such as evidence that an employee was fired shortly after making a protected complaint, or shortly after taking medical leave, or evidence that an employer treated similarly situated employees differently, or evidence that the employer’s official explanation for its decision is false, or not worthy of belief. These are just some of the ways in which employees are able to prove that an employment decision was illegal, but the facts of each case are different and require evaluation by a skilled employment lawyer.
Until you consult a wrongful termination lawyer, you won’t know the viability of a potential wrongful termination lawsuit.
Seek help from a qualified CT employment attorney when you’ve been wrongfully terminated
At Madsen, Prestley & Parenteau LLC, our lawyers have more than 20 years of experience advocating for victims of unlawful termination. Call (860) 246-2466 or contact us online to learn more about how we can help you.