“I Was Fired From My Job Without Warning For No Good Reason. Help!”

Apr 26 2023

Amanda DeMatteis: Hi, Josh.

Josh Goodbaum: Hi, Amanda. What are we talking about today?

DeMatteis: I thought we’d talk about an employee who’s been working for a company for a couple of years. Everything seems to be going along just fine – positive performance reviews and appraisals – and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, their boss gives them that tap on the shoulder and says, “Hey, look, it’s just not a good fit. This isn’t working out anymore. You’re terminated.” What do you tell that person?

Goodbaum: I start by saying, “I’m sorry. This is really unfortunate and really unfair. It would be great if all of the decisions that our employers and managers made were well-reasoned and well-thought-out. But that’s not the system we have. In Connecticut, and in 48 other states, we have at-will employment, which means you can be terminated at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all, so long as it is not an unlawful one.”

So I might start by asking that employee:

  • Do you have a sense of anything that might be unlawful?
  • Have you recently developed a medical condition?
  • Has your boss changed?
  • Are you a lot older than you were when you came to work there?
  • Have you disclosed that you have a family member who has a disability?
  • Have you engaged in protected activity?
  • Have you made a complaint about your compensation?

There’s a long list of things we can talk about, but assuming the employee says, “No, I don’t think it’s any of that. I just think they changed their mind,” then I would say that I don’t think there’s anything the law can do to help you as it currently exists. And that’s really unfortunate, but that is the reality.

We employment lawyers have all met this person and wish we could do more for them, but you’re not entitled under Connecticut law or under federal law to a warning for what you’re doing wrong at work. You’re not entitled to an opportunity to improve your employment. And unless you have a contract – either an individually negotiated contract or a collective bargaining agreement by virtue of your membership in a union – then you don’t have the protection of being terminated only for good cause or for just cause. You can be terminated for any reason – for a bad reason, for no reason – so long as it is not for an unlawful reason. And that’s the unfortunate reality of working in an at-will employment situation.

So, I would tell this person, “I’m very sorry, but I don’t think there is anything I or, frankly, any other employment lawyer is going to be able to do to help you,” and that’s just one of the breaks that goes with doing what we do.

DeMatteis: Yeah, some of the toughest news to deliver, but it’s always important that Connecticut employees know what rights they do have and, of course, what rights they don’t have. Thank you so much for watching.

Goodbaum: So true.

DeMatteis: Take care.

Goodbaum: Thanks, Amanda. Bye.

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amanda dematteis discussing being terminated for no reason

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    During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

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    I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

    When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

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