Sex, Lies, and The FOIA: Wotjas v. Town of Stonington and The Disclosure of Sexual Harassment Complaints, Regardless of “Guilt.”

This author wrote previously on the status of sexual harassment investigations under the Freedom of Information Act [”FOIA”]. In a case that has grabbed some notoriety; the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] has offered further guidance and reminders as to the public nature of sexual harassment complaints. In Wotjas v. Department of Administrative Services, Town…

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Required Consideration Lacking For Replacement Employment Contract

A September 23rd Connecticut Appellate Court decision tells a cautionary tale for employers drafting employment contracts intended to replace earlier contracts. Thoma v. Oxford Performance Materials, Inc., 2014 WL 4548490 (Conn. App.). In Thoma, the employee’s first contract gave her the right to a generous severance if the employer terminated her without cause. It also…

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A Question To Be Answered By The Supreme Court: Should You Discuss The Obvious At Job Interviews?

Sometime next year the United States Supreme Court will decide whether a job interviewer had an obligation to inform an applicant that the interviewer has noticed that the applicant is wearing a headscarf. Put another way, on the issue of an employer’s duty to accommodate an article of clothing worn as a religious practice, does…

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Reacting to Employee Off-The-Job Misconduct

A very concerned CEO calls his attorney. He has just learned that several months ago a key employee punched his fiancée, knocking her unconscious. There was a criminal charge that was dismissed, and the couple later married, but a bystander made a video of the incident which has made its way to the company. The…

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With the Latest Workplace Violence, Is It Time To Review Your Workplace Safety Policies?

The travesty of the latest workplace violence – a shooting on September 23, 2014 at UPS’s Birmingham Alabama facility and the beheading at a Vaughan Foods plant in Oklahoma – is a reminder that all employers must be vigilant to protect their employees, customers and vendors from potential workplace violence, whether from an employee or…

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Employee or Independent Contractor? A Change in the Ground Rules at FedEx Ground

I’ll bet you assume that the hard-working driver who delivers your packages and letters shipped by Federal Express is a FedEx employee. After all, he or she wears a FedEx uniform, drives a FedEx truck, uses a FedEx handheld computer, and operates on a FedEx schedule. So it may surprise you to learn that those…

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Don’t Make Promises That You Cannot Keep: Greenwich Silver Shield Association v. Town of Greenwich, the FOIA and Discrimination Investigations

Investigations in the public sector confront the competing demands of employee privacy rights and the public’s “right to know” under the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”]. Another decision by the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] reminds us that the scales tilt decidedly toward disclosure. In Greenwich Silver Shield Association v. Director, Human Resources Department, Town…

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Lies and Unemployment Compensation Proceedings – You Cannot Get Sued Again

A typical part of a contentious employment termination matter is the inevitable unemployment compensation claim.   While a multiplicity of claims may emanate from the ugliness of job separation, the Connecticut courts continuously remind us that employers need not fear being sued for defamation for negative statements that they may make regarding a former employee during…

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State Law Can Override Control Test for Employment

Past articles in this blog have discussed the control test for establishing an employment relationship as opposed to independent contractor status, (see Lowe’s post here and Employee or Independent Contractor post here.)  Although government agencies such as the Department of Labor or IRS describe the test in various ways, the fundamental concept is control, and…

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The Police Have The Right To Remain Silent Too: The Supreme Court Rules On The Disclosure Of Police Reports Under The FOIA

The Connecticut Supreme Court has resolved an intense debate about what law enforcement agencies are required to release with regard to arrest records and associated reports.  This decision  could affect the ability of school boards, municipalities and other public bodies to investigate employee and student misconduct. The Court’s decision in Commissioner of Public Safety v.…

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Could Non-Compete Agreements Be Banned in Connecticut?

Many employers believe that non-compete agreements, also known as restrictive covenants, can be an important tool in protecting confidential information, trade secrets, and other legitimate business interests. They allow business owners to share vital information with key employees without fearing that they have merely educated their competitors if the key employee jumps ship. Nor under…

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Blood is Thicker Than Water: The Obligation To Bargain Over Nepotism Policies

It seems sensible for an employer to have a nepotism policy restricting the circumstances where an employee may supervise a family member (or make employment decisions such as compensation, discipline, evaluation, or promotional opportunities).  However, at least in the unionized workplace, and especially in the public sector, employers cannot let common sense get in the…

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Alternative Theories To Address Former Employee Competition Where There Are No Covenants

A recent Connecticut Superior Court case demonstrates that all is not lost for an employer when a former employee without a non-compete or a non-solicitation covenant leaves and competes. Wentworth, DeAngelis & Kaufman, Inc. v. Nims, 2014 WL 1013479 (Conn. Super.). The defendant there joined the plaintiff’s insurance agency in 2007 to service certain of its…

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What Is The Interactive Process?

The interactive process is a crucial step for an employer in dealing with an employee’s request for accommodation of a disability. Failure to conduct and document the interactive process can result in liability under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the related Connecticut fair employment practice statutes, even when the employee’s initial request might not…

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