I’ve Been Fired – What Are My Rights?
At Will Employment
Connecticut is an employment at will state which means that you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all provided that the reason is not illegal or contrary to an agreement between you and your employer.
A Termination May Be Unlawful If:
- The termination violated the terms of an agreement between you and your employer.
- The termination violated public policy.
- The termination is based on illegal discrimination.
- The termination was retaliatory.
Am I Entitled to Severance Pay If I’ve Been Fired?
A severance agreement or separation agreement is a contract between an employer and employee which addresses termination. These agreements generally provide for severance payments to be made by the employer to the employee in exchange for the employee’s agreement not to sue the employer. The agreement may contain other provisions such as a non-disparagement clause, non-competition and confidentiality.
An employer is not legally obligated to provide severance. You may be entitled to a separation package if.
- you have a written employment agreement that provides for it.
- The employer has a written policy on severance pay in its handbook or other employment documents.
- The employer has a custom or practice of offering severance.
- Your employer made an oral promise to you that you would receive severance benefits.
Even where an employer has no legal obligation to provide severance, it may be possible to negotiate a severance agreement.
I’ve Been Fired, What Do I Do Know?
Being fired from a job is traumatic and confusing. You may have been fired for economic reasons. You may have had an employment agreement which the employer breached. You may have been subject to illegal discrimination or retaliation. If you believe that your firing violated a written employment contract or was discriminatory or retaliatory, you should consider meeting with an attorney. You should also consider the following:
- Personnel File:Requesting your personnel file in writing.
- Severance Benefits / Severance Pay: Does your employer’s personnel policies and handbook provide for a severance policy or plan? If there is no plan or policy, you may still be able to negotiate a severance agreement.
- Unpaid Wages: Have all your wages have been paid?
- Accrued Time Off: Does your employer’s personnel policies or handbook provide for payment of accrued and unused sick leave, vacation and personal days?
- Commissions: Have your commissions been paid? What are the terms of commission payments?
- Bonus: Does your compensation package include a bonus?
- Overtime pay: Were you entitled to overtime pay? If not, were you properly characterized as exempt? Employers sometimes improperly classify an employee as.
- Unemployment: As a general rule, as long as you did not engage in willful misconduct and were terminated from your job, you are entitled to collect unemployment.
- Restrictive Covenants:Did you enter into non-compete, non-solicitation and/or confidentiality agreements with your employer?
- Severance:Employers may offer you a small amount of severance pay if you sign an agreement releasing all claims that you may have against the employer.
Don’t let your employer rush you into signing anything until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney.