Bad News, Good News: Disability Discrimination Plaintiff Sometimes Need Not Show He Was Qualified, But May Never Recover Punitive Damages

In a decision to be officially released on May 19, 2015, the Connecticut Appellate Court has addressed two interesting issues in the state law of employment discrimination, one of which is of considerable importance (and comfort) to employers. First, the court identified a relatively unusual situation in which a plaintiff claiming that he was discriminated…

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Timing and Consistency in Employee Discipline

A recent case decided by the Connecticut Appellate Court illustrates the importance of timing and consistency in administering employee discipline. In Barbee v. Sysco Connecticut, LLC, an opinion released on April 28, 2015, the plaintiff, a 16-year employee, was a supervisor who processed returns at a wholesale food distributor’s warehouse.  According to the plaintiff, it…

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City of Waterbury v. Connecticut Alliance of City Police — A New Standard of Impartiality for Arbitrators in Interest Arbitrations?

The Superior Court’s decision in City of Waterbury v. Connecticut Alliance of City Police, could mark the emergence of a new standard of impartiality for party-selected arbitrators in Municipal Employee Relations Act [“MERA”] interest arbitrations.  In the decision, Superior Court Judge Brazzel-Massaro disqualified a union attorney from sitting on a MERA interest arbitration panel after the…

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Retaliation Claims Shouldn’t Be a Form of Job Security

I recently overheard a plaintiff’s employment lawyer quip that the best form of job security for an employee is to file a retaliation claim.  While there may be some plausibility to that, it is certainly not a truism.  There is no question that an employer should be extremely cautious when disciplining employees who have filed…

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A Tip for Employers: Be Aware of How the Department of Labor Interprets Its Regulations

This story applies directly only to the restaurant industry, but it is a cautionary tale for every employer in Connecticut subject to the Department of Labor’s authority to write and interpret its regulations. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act and almost all state wage-hour laws recognize “tip credit” – which means that the employer of…

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Alternative Visa Strategies in The Aftermath of The Record-Breaking April 2015 H-1B Lottery

The United States Citizenship & Immigration Service announced yesterday that it received nearly 233,000 H-1B visa petitions in the first week of the application window for the 85,000 cap-subject visas available for fiscal year 2016.  That record-breaking number means that nearly two-thirds of employers who prepared diligently ahead of the opening of the season, in…

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Insubordination Can Disqualify an Employee From Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Unemployment compensation is a form of social insurance.  Workers who lose their jobs receive benefits – which are less than they earned when employed – to provide a level of income while transitioning to the next job.  Therefore the “default setting” for the unemployment compensation system is that an individual who has been separated from…

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What is The “Right To Work”?

With a bill signed into law last month, Wisconsin became the nation’s 25th “right to work” state.  In this context, right-to-work means the right of an employee of a unionized company to retain his job even if he chooses not to join or support the union. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which governs relations between…

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Common Sense Prevails: Arbitration Award OK’ing On-Duty Drug Usage Overturned

In the world of labor arbitration, common sense sometimes takes a holiday.  Fortunately, a Superior Court judge recently overturned an arbitrator’s attempt at second guessing an employer’s response to serious misconduct involving on the job drug use. In State of Connecticut v. Connecticut Employees Union Independent, 2014 WL 5572251, a skilled maintainer at the UConn…

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The Perennial Problem of References

Most employers would be very happy to receive a frank appraisal from a prospective employee’s former employer.  Yet most employers are themselves reluctant to give references concerning former employees, or any information beyond confirming job title and dates of employment, and possibly wage rates.  There is a perceived risk in actually giving a candid evaluation…

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Latest Developments From The Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Speaks

On Thursday, March 12, 2015, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee  voted favorably on a plethora of bills and advanced them out of committee. Among the most noteworthy were: 1) a bill that would require certain “large” employers to pay a quarterly fee to the Department of Labor for each employee that receives…

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Potential New Salary Minimum for Exempt Employees

The test for classifying employees as exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act’s overtime requirements may be briefly summarized as follows:  the employee must be paid on a salary basis (i.e., receive the same base salary amount every workweek regardless of the number of hours worked), and the employee must perform duties which satisfy the…

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Innovative Payroll Practices May Not Be Legal

Connecticut law still allows employees to be paid their weekly pay in cash in pay envelopes, although this cumbersome practice has largely if not entirely given way to more modern forms of disbursement. In particular, electronic transfers of funds, such as direct deposit, are an inexpensive and easy way to meet payroll.  But methods of…

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Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: March 3 and 6 Public Hearings

As promised previously, we will be keeping you up to date with developments in the General Assembly. A. On Tuesday, March 3, 2015, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee will conduct a public hearing on the following proposed bills. 1. S.B. No. 953 AN ACT CONCERNING LABOR PEACE. (LAB) 2. S.B. No. 984 (RAISED)…

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