Author: Mark Sommaruga

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense: Employers’ Use of The FOIA For Background Checks

In representing primarily public sector bodies over most of my career, I have generally been in a position of advising clients in how to comply with Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests, and thus usually assist those in a “defensive” posture.   However, in light of the FOIA’s limited protections and exemptions with regard to the…

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What is the Appropriate Punishment for Actual and Perceived Threats in the Workplace?

Employers increasingly are concerned about threats to safety in the workplace.  At the same time, employers must be aware of the rights of any  employee accused of wrongdoing.  For a discussion of a recent case highlighting this tension, please visit Education Law Notes.…

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Latest Developments from the Connecticut General Assembly

The General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee will be having its next public hearing on Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 1:00 PM in Room 1E of the Legislative Office Building. The Committee will consider the following bills: Senate Bill. No. 219 (RAISED), AN ACT CONCERNING THE MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT SYSTEM CONTRIBUTION RATE.  This bill…

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“Mind Your Own Business”- The Connecticut Supreme Court Limits Challenges to Licensing and Certification Decisions by Public Agencies in Lopez v. Bridgeport Board of Education.

In a much ballyhooed case, certain residents and taxpayers of the City of Bridgeport brought a “quo warranto” action in the courts, challenging the qualifications of the City’s Superintendent of Schools (Paul Vallas) to hold his position, due to a failure to have the appropriate certification for a Connecticut school superintendent.  Vallas came to the…

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What Can We Expect from this Connecticut General Assembly Session?

 On February 6, 2014, the 2014 session of the Connecticut General Assembly began.  Since this is an election year, the session will be relatively short, with adjournment scheduled for May 7, 2014.   We can expect a plethora of proposed bills affecting Connecticut employers and employees that will be unleashed during the session, most of which…

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Good Cop or Bad Cop: The Public’s Right to Know

As you may have learned through media reports or your favorite television cop show,  allegations of misdeeds by police officers usually proceed through a police department’s “Internal Affairs” [“IA”] investigation process.  In today’s world, it is not surprising that journalists and members of the public may want to have access to these IA records and…

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The FOIA and the Great Beyond-Personnel File Exceptions Do Not Belong to the Deceased

In a recent case, the Superior Court reminded us all about the limitations that exist under the so-called “personnel files” exception to the disclosure of records under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  One prominent limitation to this exception is that one must actually be alive in order to assert a privacy right in a…

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Book on Freedom of Information Act by Attorney Sommaruga Released

Pullman & Comley, along  with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, have jointly published Understanding the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act and Access to Public Meetings and Records, written by Mark J. Sommaruga, Esq., a member of Pullman & Comley’s Labor, Employment Law and Employee Benefits Department and School Law section.  This book is…

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Lessons from the National Football League in the Workplace

Regardless of whether one is a Miami Dolphins or NFL fan, the recent investigation by the NFL regarding allegations of bullying involving Jonathan Martin may tell a precautionary tale for all employers.  Briefly, Martin left the Dolphins in the middle of the 2013 NFL season, claiming that he had been a victim of bullying by…

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Be Careful – Complying with Separation Agreements and Personnel File Issues

Parties often include in separation agreements a confidentiality provision, along with a provision indicating that the agreement is not to be included in the soon-to be former employee’s personnel file. Sometimes, such provisions may end up being meaningless gestures, in light of the fact that such agreements may be susceptible to subpoenas and discovery requests…

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