The Connecticut Legislature’s “short session” ended on May 4, 2022. While many bills were proposed that would have significantly impacted the workplace, only a handful have been signed into law. Below is a summary of some key new laws, and some bills that did not pass but could be resurrected next year.
Expansion of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA). The CFEPA prohibits discrimination and harassment based on various protected classes and prohibits retaliation against an employee for engaging in protected activity. CFEPA is similar to the federal anti-discrimination laws, except that CFEPA is broader in coverage (i.e., applies to a greater number of employers) and broader in scope (i.e., covers more protected classes). Effective October 1, 2022, the CFEPA will be further expanded in coverage to apply to all employers with one or more employees whereas currently it applies to employers with three or more employees.
Domestic Violence. Another significant expansion of the CFEPA is that, effective October 1, 2022, victims of domestic violence will be added as a protected class. Employers with three or more employees also will be required to post information concerning domestic violence and resources available to victims. And, lastly, all employers must provide a “reasonable leave of absence” for victims of domestic violence for a variety of reasons, such as seeking attention for injuries, counseling and to obtain legal services. The law does not define what is “reasonable” but does allows employers to obtain written certification to substantiate the need for leave. This new law is in addition to an existing state law that requires employers with three or more employees to provide up to 12 days of job-protected leave for “family violence”, defined slightly different than “domestic violence”. Employers should update their policies.
Captive Audience. Effective July 1, 2022, employers will be prohibited from requiring employees to attend any employer-sponsored meeting, listen to speech, or view any communications if the purpose if is to communicate the employer’s opinion on religious or political matters. The definition of “political matters” is broad and includes, among other things, the employer’s view on unionization.
Prevailing Wage. Under Connecticut law, employers that have certain contracts for the construction, remodeling, alteration or repair of certain public works projects must pay their employees working on such projects “prevailing wages.” Starting July 1, 2023, a new Connecticut law will significantly increase the penalties for violations by doubling the fine amount (up from $2500 to $5000 per violation) and subjecting employers to greater risk of debarment from future public contracts.
Some Notable Bills That Did Not Pass. Some bills that were proposed but did not pass included bills that would have:
- significantly lowered the legal standard for bringing a harassment claim by eliminating the requirement that harassment be “severe or pervasive”, and eliminated certain employer defenses to such claims;
- prohibited employers from including non-disparagement and no-rehire provisions in settlement agreements;
- made workers’ compensation benefits available to all employees who suffer PTSD on the job, such as witnessing a death or traumatic physical injury;
- provided unemployment to striking workers;
- prohibited employers from replacing striking employees;
- significantly limited the enforceability of non-competes, including an outright ban for non-exempt employees; and
- expanded paid sick leave by requiring all private employers to provide five paid sick days and two weeks of COVID leave.
If you have questions about labor and employment matters, please contact a member of Carmody’s Labor & Employment team.
This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship.