Google’s Most Asked Questions about Employment Law, Part 2

Sep 16 2020

How does employment law protect employees?

At its most basic level, employment law circumscribes the employment relationship. Or, put another way, it says what employers can and cannot do vis-à-vis their employees. The many facets of employment law are too intricate and interrelated to summarize briefly, but they concern – among other things – discrimination and harassment, retaliation, accommodations and medical leaves, wage and hour issues, and contracts, including employment and severance agreements and restrictive covenants, such as non-competes.

Is Connecticut an at-will employment state?

Yes, along with 48 other states. (Montana is the exception.) This means that either an employer or an employee can end the employment relationship at any time for any reason, so long as it’s not an unlawful one, such as discrimination, retaliation, or breach of contract.

What is unfair dismissal in employment law?

Although a dismissal can be “unfair,” its unfairness alone does not make it illegal in Connecticut. This is because, as explained just above, Connecticut is an at-will employment state. That means a termination does not have to be “fair” to be legal. Note, however, that Connecticut does provide a cause of action for employees who are terminated in violation of public policy. That occurs most often where an employee is terminated for refusing their employer’s direction to violate an otherwise-valid law.

What are the laws on firing employees?

There is no one law – or even set of laws – that describe the process of employment termination. Employees sometimes think that their employers must give them a reason for a termination. In Connecticut, that is not the case. (Strictly speaking, the doctrine of at-will employment means that the employer doesn’t even have to have a reason.) However, under the Connecticut Personnel Files Act (Chapter 563a of the General Statutes), employees are entitled to a copy of their personnel files, which includes all documents that are or were used by the employer to determine that employee’s eligibility for employment, promotion, additional compensation, transfer, termination, or discipline. This includes former employees for up to one year after termination.

How to report employment law violations?

If your employer is breaking the law, you have the right to seek help. The best way to understand your rights and explore your options is to contact an employment lawyer who is experienced in representing employees. Remember that just because you talk to an employment lawyer does not mean you have to take any further steps. The decision about how to proceed – including whether to do anything with the information and advice you receive – is yours alone to make.

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