Topic: Labor

Pregnancy and “Forced Sick Leave.” The Intersection of State and Federal Law, and What Is Permissible In the Connecticut Workplace

The situation that is at the epicenter of a recent controversy involving a Pier 1 employee, and a recent Connecticut federal court case, arises in the context of a pregnant employee being unable to carry out essential job functions due to a pregnancy-related condition.  The employer may then “force” the employee to commence the use…

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Once An Employee – Never A Volunteer

It should be obvious that employees cannot be required to perform services for their employers as “volunteers.” This is properly seen by the Department of Labor as a ruse to avoid paying wages or overtime. By contrast, volunteers such as those who donate their services to public service, religious or humanitarian organizations, are not considered…

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Unpaid Summer Internships Are A Bad Deal – For Employers

With summer fast approaching, it seems a good time to brush up on the topic of summer internships. Plenty of high school and college students – even recent college graduates – would be grateful for the opportunity to learn some skills, enhance their resumes, and perhaps make some useful connections; plenty of employers could use…

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Wage Hour Claims and Casuto v. Town of Greenwich: The Department of Labor Investigation Is Not The End of The Story

Employers who have been through an investigation by the Connecticut Department of Labor Wage & Workplace Standards Division unfortunately have intimate knowledge of the potential burdens of defending against employee wage claims.  To make things even less joyous for employers facing such claims, the Connecticut Superior Court’s recent decision in Casuto v. Town of Greenwich,…

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Do You Comply With The New Personnel Files Statutes?

Last year the Connecticut legislature amended the state personnel files statutes to add specific compliance requirements in three areas. The prior statutes defined personnel and medical files, allowed employees to request inspection of their files, allowed employees to offer corrections, made personnel files confidential, and allowed employees to obtain copies. The amendments in Public Act…

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Should Employers Sue to Recover Attorney’s Fees After Winning a Lawsuit?

Unfortunately, the usual answer is no. After being sued by an employee for discrimination without a scintilla of evidence to support the claim, clients often ask “Can we countersue the employee for attorney’s fees?” The majority of the time, the answer is “No.” That said, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does…

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Paying Employees For Travel Time

Both the state and federal wage and hour laws have provisions addressing the question of when time spent traveling by a non-exempt employee is compensable. A new decision of the Connecticut Supreme Court in the case of Sarrazin v. Coastal, Inc., decided on April 29, 2014, addresses various travel time issues. There are generally three…

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When Is Someone “At Work”? Implications For Unemployment Compensation Eligibility (And Beyond)

Connecticut’s unemployment compensation statutes disqualify individuals from eligibility for benefits for certain misconduct, such as “willful misconduct in the course of employment.”  A recent court case notes that the “course of employment” could include conduct by individuals in the course of grievance and other labor relations proceedings. In Morales v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation, 2013 WL…

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“May I Record A Conversation With My Employee Without His Knowledge?”

At the Pullman & Comley Labor, Employment, and Employee Benefits Seminar recently, I was asked by one of the attendees, an HR Director, whether she could record a disciplinary meeting with a troublesome employee without telling the employee. This is a question that comes up from time to time. More often, it’s an employee who…

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Testing the Boundaries of the Faragher/Ellerth Defense in Sexual Harassment Cases

In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court created a defense for employers accused of permitting a supervisor to engage in unlawful sexual harassment of an employee.  In two seminal cases, the Court held that an employer is not vicariously liable for a supervisor’s workplace harassment of a subordinate if the employer can show: (1) that it…

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Déjà vu All Over Again: Planning For New Hires In Light of The H-1B Visa Lottery

For the second year in a row, the United States Citizenship & Immigration Service (USCIS) has received more petitions in the opening week of H-1B visa season than the number of visas that are available for the entire year.  This is true of both the “standard” and “U.S. advanced degree” caps.  Consequently: The USCIS will…

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Please Join Us At Pullman & Comley’s April 3rd “Strengthening Your Business With LGBT Diversity” Panel Discussion

On April 3rd, 2014, Pullman & Comley will host a panel discussion on how employers can strengthen their businesses through workplace diversity practices that promote Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (“LGBT”).  While many leading corporations throughout the country recognize employee diversity as a key part of their business strategies, LGBT professionals both in Connecticut and…

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Employee Theft of Employer Documents—Protected Conduct in Opposition to Discrimination or Criminal Activity?

What happens to board of education employees who steal board documents to support a lawsuit against their employer?  In New Jersey, at least, they are criminally prosecuted.  In State V. Saavedra, Docket No. A-1449-12T4 (Dec. 24, 2013)(link), the New Jersey Appellate Division upheld the indictment of a North Bergen Board of Education [“Board”] employee who…

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Revamping Overtime Regulations: No Specifics Yet

President Obama announced this week that he is directing the Secretary of Labor to “modernize and streamline” existing overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. He characterized the current regulations as “outdated,” and instructed the Secretary to “consider how the regulations could be revised to update existing protections consistent with the intent of the…

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