Author: Michael LaVelle

Dueling Time Cards: The Appellate Court Provides Guidance On Resolving Unpaid Wage Claims

Wage and hour law requires employers to keep true and accurate time records for payment of wages and overtime. This is usually a routine exercise with respect to non-exempt employees, for whom employers will have detailed records provided by payroll companies or their own payroll procedures which are required to show, among other things, the…

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Bringing Your Dog to Work: Service Animals as Disability Accommodation

The reasonable accommodations for an employee’s disability that may be required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act can take many forms, including an employee coming to work each day accompanied an animal. The ADA and the FEPA have two main components for persons with disabilities: protections for employees…

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The Connecticut Supreme Court Aces Another ABC Test

This is the latest in a series of blog posts on the so-called “ABC Test,” which is used in Connecticut to determine whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor for purposes of eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits. Last year the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a decision with an employer-friendly interpretation of the…

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Supervisor’s Personal Liability for Harassment

A recent case filed in the Waterbury superior court, Denault v. Community Mental Health Affiliates, et al, alleging an unfortunately familiar pattern of sexual harassment in violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, named both the company and the harassing supervisor as defendants, and alleged that the individual supervisor had personal liability for his…

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What Is the Extent of an Employer’s Liability For the Acts of an Employee?

An employer can be liable for injury done by an employee to a third party under the doctrine known as vicarious liability. Vicarious liability can arise when the employee’s activity that caused the injury was done 1) on the express orders or directions of the employer, 2) carrying out the employer’s business within the scope…

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Workers Comp Continues To Be Exclusive Remedy for Workplace Injuries

Workers compensation laws are among the oldest protective labor statutes, dating back to the early 1900’s. Workers compensation embodies a simple tradeoff: employees may not bring personal injury lawsuits against their employers for workplace injuries, but in return there is mandatory insurance so that claims can be processed quickly with funds available for payment, and…

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The Same Actor Defense Requires the Same Stage

Employment defense lawyers are fond of the “same actor” defense to discrimination claims because it combines legal theory and common sense. The same actor inference can be used in cases based on claims of discrimination on account of characteristics such as race, gender or ethnicity, where the same supervisor both hired and fired the plaintiff.…

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Finding Ways to Sue

An employee who is terminated from employment does not have a legal right to sue the employer simply because he believes that the termination was “unfair.” While union contracts typically contain a provision that discipline, including termination, be for just cause, there is no similar statute or rule of law that protects non-union employees generally.…

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Some Workers Compensation Principles That Are Often Misunderstood

A recent decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court sheds light on some common misunderstandings of the reach of workers compensation benefits. The basic events in Hart v. Federal Express Corporation, 321 Conn. 1 (decided April 19, 2016) are not controversial.  The plaintiff was a delivery driver who experienced a debilitating combination of a large number…

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Can a Single Employee Go On Strike Against a Non-Union Company?

The short answer is “yes.”  The National Labor Relations Act extends the same protections to employees of non-unionized employers as it does to union members.  One of those protections is the right to engage in a strike, which is simply a work stoppage in support of a concerted activity, such as a demand for changes…

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Importance of Establishing An Employee’s Regular Rate of Pay

Overtime pay is calculated at a rate of one and one-half times a non-exempt employee’s regular rate, a well-known formula which obviously depends on establishing the employee’s regular rate of pay. This should ordinarily be simple, since the pay of  a non-exempt employee is usually stated in terms of an hourly rate of pay, and…

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An Example of the Interplay Between State and Federal FMLA

Any Connecticut employer with more than 75 employees is subject to both the state and federal Family and Medical Leave Acts. The key provisions of the two laws are nearly identical, with one significant exception:  the Connecticut FMLA leave entitlement is 16 weeks within a 24-month period, whereas the federal FMLA entitlement is 12 weeks within…

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Don’t Be A Cat’s-Paw

Most sexual harassment policies include a procedure to investigate complaints, often specifying that the investigation will be timely and thorough, and may include interviews with the employees involved, witnesses, and anyone else with relevant knowledge. A recent decision from the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, whose decisions govern the Connecticut federal…

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Differences in Public Policy Can Affect Claims of Wrongful Discharge

Most jurisdictions, including Connecticut, recognize a tort of “wrongful discharge” as an exception to the principle of employment at will. Although employment at will generally allows either the employer or the employee to terminate the employment relationship at any time, employers may not use employment at will to justify the termination of an employee for…

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Supreme Court Reaffirms Workers Compensation Exclusivity

Workers compensation has been described as a bargain in which an employee who has suffered a workplace injury relinquishes potentially large common-law tort damages in exchange for relatively quick and certain compensation provided by workers compensation insurance. This principle is known as the exclusivity rule.   In the recent case of Velecela v. All Habitat Services,…

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