Author: Michael LaVelle

Payment of Accrued But Unused Vacation Pay

The Connecticut rules for payment of accrued but unused vacation pay when employment terminates are fairly simple, but a brief refresher may be helpful to employers. Connecticut General Statutes § 31-71f requires employers to provide employees with a written statement of employment policies and practices, including vacation pay.  Connecticut General Statutes § 31-76k, which is…

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Discrimination at Any Age

In  the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (“ADEA”),  29 U.S.C. § 621 et seq, Congress in 1967 prohibited discrimination in employment because of a person’s age, but limited the protections of the law to individuals who are at least 40 years old.  The preamble to the statute explained that Congress wanted to prevent the setting…

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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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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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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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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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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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Reasonable Accommodation of a Disability Does Not Require Elimination of an Essential Job Function

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination in employment against a qualified individual on the basis of disability, and discrimination includes failing to make a reasonable accommodation. The Connecticut Supreme Court has recently ruled that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act also imposes a reasonable accommodation requirement on employers, even though not explicitly stated…

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Evolution of a Statutory Benefit: Use of Paid Sick Leave by Employees Who Aren’t Sick Themselves

The Connecticut employment laws mandate several workplace protections for employees which in an earlier era would have been found only in collective bargaining agreements or the employer’s own policies.   Just a few examples are restrictions on workplace surveillance (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 31-48b), limitations on employee drug testing (Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51t et seq.), employee…

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They Also Serve Who Only Stand and Wait – At No Extra Charge

Last month, this blog discussed a case pending at the U.S. Supreme Court on the issue of whether employees who were required to pass through a security clearance at the beginning and end of their shifts could claim that the time spent waiting in line for clearance should be considered paid time under the Fair…

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The Importance of Timing in Employment Terminations

There is a saying that “timing is everything,” and in some instances of employment termination, the timing, if not everything, may still be an  important consideration. Many of the laws which provide benefits to employees contain provisions which protect the employees from retaliation for use of those benefits.  Examples of such protections are included in…

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