Author: Michael LaVelle

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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Connecticut Supreme Court Reaffirms the Right of an Employer to Determine When Commissions Are Paid

As a general proposition, under Connecticut law an employer has the right to determine the wage that will be paid for work performed by an employee, subject to basic requirements such as minimum wage or overtime. For wages that are paid as commissions, this means that the employer determines in its commission plan both how…

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There Are Limits to Connecticut’s Employee Free Speech Law

It has long been recognized as a matter of federal constitutional law that public employees cannot be deprived by the government of their right to freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment, even though the government is also their employer. Public employees have the right to speak out about matters of public concern (which…

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Application of Connecticut’s (Non-FMLA) Maternity Leave Law

The State of Connecticut has provided pregnancy leave in the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act which is different from the maternity leave provided by the state and federal Family and Medical Leave Acts.  Unlike FMLA leave, which has eligibility requirements, CFEPA pregnancy leave applies to all employees of employers with three or more employees.  CFEPA…

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What Is Termination For Cause?

“At-will” employment is an established legal principle in Connecticut. Most non-unionized Connecticut employers publish a statement to employees, either in an employee handbook or employment application materials or both, that the employment relationship between the employee and the company is employment at will.  These “disclaimer” statements typically explain that at-will employment means that the employment…

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Travel Time Is Paid Time, Sometimes

Employment typically requires an employee to commute from home to work, and home again at the end of the workday. Department of Labor regulations interpreting the Fair Labor Standards Act recognize that the typical morning and evening commute, referred to in the regulations as home-to-work travel, is not compensable as work time.  This is so…

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The Proper Response When an Employer Learns That an Absence Might Be Protected By FMLA

Regulations enforcing the state and federal Family and Medical Leave Acts (note: FMLA is applicable to employers with at least 50 employees) require an employee to give 30 days’ advance notice when the need for leave is foreseeable, but also address the many situations is which advance notice is not foreseeable, such as a sudden…

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Employers Have Flexibility in Applying the Professional Exemption

The basic premise of the Fair Labor Standards Act with regard to overtime pay is that all employees are to be paid overtime unless they qualify for an exemption. Among the exemptions are the three categories known as “white collar workers:” employees whose primary duty is executive, administrative, or professional, as defined in U. S.…

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The Connecticut Supreme Court Gets an “A”

There are several facets to the question of whether a person who provides services to a business is an employee or an independent contractor. This classification issue affects whether tax withholding is applied to compensation, whether compensation must comply with wage and hour regulations (i.e., minimum wage and overtime rules), whether workers compensation coverage is…

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