Author: Michael LaVelle

New Legislation Grants Additional Powers to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

Until about 25 years ago, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities claimed the power to award both general damages for emotional distress and reasonable attorneys’ fees to complainants who prevailed in a CHRO public hearing.  Then in a landmark decision in 1995, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the CHRO had misapplied the…

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Pay for Work Performed by Non-Exempt Employees: Does “Hours Worked” Include a Few Extra Minutes?

It appears that the new regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor to increase the salary threshold for exemption from the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime requirements will become effective in the foreseeable future. Currently, any employee earning a salary of more than $455 per week is eligible for classification as exempt, as long…

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Proposed Change to Sexual Harassment Law Would Impose Strict Liability on Employers

House Bill 7044, recently reported favorably out of the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee, has not yet become law. [see our blog article from March 19, 2019: Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Begins to Speak] In fact, earlier versions of the bill introduced in past…

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You Can Choose Your Friends, But ….

The U.S. Constitution protects a government employee from retaliation by his or her governmental employer because the employee exercised rights protected by the First Amendment.  Some years ago the Connecticut Legislature decided to extend similar protection to private employment, which is not directly covered by the Constitution.  Connecticut General Statute 31-51q prohibits any employer, public…

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Timing Issues in Employee Terminations

Deciding whether an employee should be terminated is a difficult decision, involving not only whether it is the right thing to do, but also whether it is the right time to do it. The appropriate personnel documentation to support a termination should be developed and shared with the employee well before the termination decision is…

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Employers Should be Wary of “Guidance”

Government agencies with enforcement powers often publish “guidance” in the form of bulletins or FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) to provide assistance in compliance. However, unlike statutes and regulations, the guidance publications are not binding and do not have the force of law.  Guidance may be helpful in general, but in a particular instance may be…

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Not Being Pregnant Can Support a Pregnancy Discrimination Claim

Discrimination in employment because of pregnancy is prohibited by the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (and also by the federal laws against employment discrimination). A basic element of any discrimination claim is that the employee asserting the claim be a member of a protected class.  For pregnancy discrimination, the class would include employees terminated while…

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Supervisors Can Have Personal Liability for Employment Discrimination

Supervisors in Connecticut can be held to have personal liability under some statutes prohibiting discrimination in employment, but not others. In a 2002 decision in the case of Perodeau v. City of Hartford, 259 Conn. 729, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the state Fair Employment Practices Act does not impose liability on individual employees. …

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New Guidance from State and Federal Courts for Employers Who Require Arbitration of Employment Disputes

There is an on-going debate in the field of employment discrimination law as to whether an employer can require an employee to take a discrimination claim to arbitration rather than filing a lawsuit. A recent decision of the Connecticut Superior Court at Hartford in the case of Grose v. Didi, LLC gives some guidance on…

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Limits to Enforcement of Non-Compete Agreements

Business clients often ask us whether their non-compete agreements with key employees will actually be enforced by the courts. A recent decision from the Connecticut Superior Court illustrates the limits to enforcing these agreements. Typical of non-compete enforcement situations, the plaintiff company learned that an executive employee who had just resigned had been hired by…

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Are Discretionary Bonuses Really Discretionary?

For some years, employment law in Connecticut has seemed to make a clear distinction between bonus plans that are discretionary, and plans that guaranteed payment of a bonus if specified performance criteria were met. In a pair of decisions interpreting Connecticut’s wage payment statutes (Connecticut General Statutes sec. 31-68 and 31-72), the Supreme Court of…

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