Employment At-Will in Connecticut
In the United States in general, employees without a written employment contract ("at-will employees") can be fired for good cause,bad cause, or no cause at all. If you had a written employment agreement, including a union agreement, you probably have a written employment contract which could have been violated whey you are fired, and you should look at it with a professional to determine what your rights are. Judicial exceptions to the general rule of employment at-will seek to prevent wrongful terminations. These exceptions generally fall within three categories: public policy; implied contract; and covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Under the public policy exception an employee is wrongfully discharged when the termination is against an explicit, well established public policy of the state. For example an employer cannot terminate an employee for filing a workers comp claim or for refusing to break the law at the request of the employer. If your employer fired you because you made a workers comp claim when you were injured on the job, or because you refuse to break the law for your employer, or because you tell your employer or someone else about a concern that some illegal activity may have occured by your employer's company, you may have a claim for wrongful discharge. The next exception, implied contract, is formed between an employer and employee, even though no express written instrument regarding employment exists. Although employment is typically not governed by contract, an employer may make oral or written representations to the employees regarding job security or more specifically a procedure that will be followed when adverse employment actions taken. If so these representations may create a contract for employment. These are often found in the employee handbook. If the handbook says that the employee will only be terminated for "just cause" or if the handbook delineates a specific procedure that should be followed prior to termination, and this was not the case in your situation, you may have an action for violation of the implied contract exception. The third exception, the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, is very limited in Connecticut in an employment at-will context. There would have to be an extreme unfairness in the situation, but since the employment at-will doctrine gives the employer the opportunity to fire an employee for any cause whatsoever or no cause whatsoever, this doctrine is usually limited to written arrangements, in Connecticut.