Author: Michael LaVelle

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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Is Predictive Scheduling Coming To Connecticut?

In certain businesses where work volume cannot be known in advance, such as outdoor maintenance work that is dependent on the weather and delivery of materials, or service work that is dependent on the volume of customers, employers try to keep labor costs under control by using “call-in” or “just-in-time” scheduling; i.e., having employees call…

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Is a Broken Arm a Disability?

In Connecticut, employees with disabilities are protected from discrimination by both the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and by the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”). Some disabilities are obvious and permanent; for instance, no one would dispute that an amputated limb qualified as a disability under the law. However, employers are sometimes faced…

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OSHA “Paper” Investigations

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has broad power to inspect workplaces. Section 8 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act empowers OSHA inspectors “to enter without delay and at reasonable times any factory, plant, establishment, construction site” or other workplace.  Inspectors have the right to inspect and investigate during regular working hours and…

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