Beginning on October 1, 2012, Connecticut residents will be able to smoke marijuana to alleviate symptoms of a debilitating medical condition without fear of arrest or prosecution by Connecticut authorities, or adverse employment action by employers in the state. The new law, entitled An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana (Public Act No. 12-55), was signed by Governor Malloy on May 31.
Articles about Connecticut Labor and Employment Law.
On April 25, 2012, a Connecticut federal district court resolved an unfair competition discovery dispute concerning an alleged April Fool’s Day website post and bulk e-mail that the plaintiff claimed decreased attendance at a competitor’s conference. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joan Margolis ruled HR consulting firm SharedExpertise Media, LLC’s motion for an “attorneys’ eyes only” protective order to safeguard the identity of certain customers and prospects should only be granted [pdf] as to “customers, registrants, or e-mail recipients who have not been openly identified through resort to defendant’s websites.”
Connecticut state law, like the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), requires employers to pay non-exempt employees one-and-one-half times their regular rate of pay for any hours worked in a workweek in excess of 40. A Connecticut Superior Court has held that the fluctuating workweek method (“FWW”) of overtime calculation complies with Connecticut state wage law. See Roach v. Moran Foods, No. HHD-CV-11-6023386-S (Conn. Super. Mar. 16, 2012). The court reasoned that because the Connecticut Legislature identified in the wage law (C.G.S.A. § 31-76(b)(1)) a specific category of employees (i.e., delivery drivers) to which the FWW method may not apply, the intent of the Legislature was to allow the FWW to apply to other employees.
Employers in Connecticut have a duty to protect employees from harassment based on sexual orientation that is just as compelling as their duty to prevent workplace harassment based on race, sex and other protected characteristics. The Connecticut Supreme Court has recently made this clear in Patino v. Birken Manufacturing Company,1 a unanimous decision that affirms a jury award of $94,500 for emotional distress suffered by an employee who was subjected to a hostile work environment because of his sexual orientation.
The Connecticut Department of Labor has issued guidance on the new Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Law. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2012. The guidance is available from the Departmentâ€™s website, at http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/wgwkstnd/SickLeaveGuidance.pdf. (See our article, What Employers Need to Know about Connecticutâ€™s Paid Sick Leave Law, for more information on the new law.)
New and revised employment laws from the Connecticut legislatureâ€™s latest session will affect all employers in the state. Here are some highlights…:
Legislation significantly amending the procedures governing how the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities will process complaints takes effect October 1, 2011. Although new Public Act No. 11-237 is an attempt to shorten the time that a charge remains pending at the CHRO once a merit assessment review is completed, how well it accomplishes this is open to question. The amendments include significant changes that allow the CHROâ€™s attorneys to reinstate a complaint that was dismissed at the merit assessment review stage and explicitly authorize agency investigators to conduct interviews and site visits, subpoena documents, seek requests for admission of facts, and issue interrogatories.
Health care employers in Connecticut have new obligations to protect their employees when it comes to workplace violence. Public Act No. 11-175, signed by Governor Dan Malloy on July 13, 2011, applies to any Connecticut health care employer who employs at least 50 full employees, whether full-time or part-time.
A new law in Connecticut generally prohibits employers from using credit reports in making employment decisions regarding existing employees or applicants. The law, effective on October 1, 2011, applies to all employers in Connecticut that have at least one employee.
An amendment to Connecticut law prohibits employers in the state from discriminating against their employees based on â€œgender identity or expression.â€ The new law expands the protections of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, which already prohibits employment discrimination based on an individualâ€™s race, color, religious creed, age, marital status, national origin, ancestry, sex, mental retardation, and disability.
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy has pledged to sign the Connecticut Paid Sick Leave legislation, which passed in the legislature on June 3, 2011. Upon its January 1, 2012, effective date, Connecticut will become the first state in the country to mandate paid sick leave. Although the legislation (Public Act 11-52) provides a safe harbor for covered employers that already offer other types of paid leave, such employers nonetheless may need to modify their policies and practices to ensure compliance with the legislation. The extent of such modifications, however, is uncertain as we await guidance or regulations interpreting certain aspects of P.A. 11-52.