Can my employer suspend me without pay because of an arrest and related allegations?

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Can my employer suspend me without pay because of an arrest and related allegations?

I was arrested for a Larceny and Violation of ethics policy from a previous employer. I was released on bond but am innocent until proven guilty. I went to court and was informed that charges will be dismissed and I will not incur a record. My employer demanded that I tell them about my case and I refused. In turn they have suspended me without pay. I am banned from the premises and not allowed access to my things in my office. Can I file a lawsuit against my employer? If so, under what guidelines?

Asked on October 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Most employment is "at will". This means that a compny can set the terms of employment much as it sees fit. This includes suspending or terminating a  worker for any reason or no reason at all. That is unless the conditions surrounding the suspension/termination violate a union/collective bargaining agreement or employment contract. Also, no form of actionable discrimination must be the reason for their treatment. Consequently, your suspension might well be legal. However, that having been said, many states afford employees protection when it comes to their criminal history. And in your case, the charges against you were dismissed. To be certain of your rights, you can check with your state's department of labor and/or consult directly with an employment law attorney. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unless you had a written employment agreement whose terms your employer violated with its actions, you cannot sue them. When there is no employment contract, all employment is "employment at will" which means--as the term implies--that your employment is only at the "will," or choice, of the employer. They may choose to terminate--or do anything "less than" termation, like suspension, demotion, pay cut, transfer, shift/schedule change, etc.--you at any time, for literally any reason not specifically prohibited by law (e.g. they can't fire you because of your race or religion). However, there is no law protecting your employment due to arrest or criminal charges, so your employer may suspend you for this reason.


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