The Aftermath: Workplace-Related Developments From The 2018 Regular Session of The Connecticut General Assembly Workplace

The 2018 Regular Session of the Connecticut General Assembly concluded on May 9, 2018. Numerous bills that were of significant interest (e.g., paid family and medical leave, other changes to the state’s FMLA, changes in the state’s paid sick leave act, measures addressing sexual harassment, increases in the state’s minimum wage) did not pass. From a strictly volume standpoint, this may have been among the least “productive” sessions of the General Assembly in terms of bills affecting the workplace.  Nevertheless, the legislature did enact a much ballyhooed bill that will limit the ability of employers to inquire about prospective employees’ prior salary history.

The following are concise descriptions of employment-related bills that were passed by the General Assembly that may be of interest. PLEASE NOTE: unless otherwise indicated, these bills are awaiting the signature of (or veto from) the Governor.

DISCLOSURE OF SALARY HISTORY

PUBLIC ACT 18-8 (H.B. No. 5386) AN ACT CONCERNING PAY EQUITY. This bill (which would take effect on January 1, 2019) would prohibit an employer from inquiring (or directing a third party to inquire) about a prospective employee’s wage and salary history unless the prospective employee has voluntarily disclosed such information. This bill would allow an employer to inquire about other elements of a prospective employee’s prior compensation structure (as long as the employer does not inquire about the value of the elements of such compensation structure).   This bill contains an exception for employers acting pursuant to any federal or state law that specifically authorizes the disclosure or verification of salary history for employment purposes. Query whether this bill would limit an employer’s ability to make a request under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) for a prospective employee’s personnel file (in situations where the prospective employee worked for a public sector employer).

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

H.B. No. 5478 AN ACT CONCERNING TECHNICAL AND MINOR CHANGES TO THE LABOR DEPARTMENT STATUTES. This bill (which would take effect on October 1, 2018) would make changes in the calculation of the State’s maximum unemployment compensation benefit rate by basing it on 50% of the average wage of all workers in the State, as opposed to the current 60% of “production and related workers” calculation. The bill provides that the Department of Labor will rely upon the “Connecticut Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages” for determining such average wage of all workers. The bill makes other minor and technical changes to the labor statutes.

STATE/”QUASI-PUBLIC EMPLOYEE SETTLEMENT AND NON-DISPARAGEMENT AGREEMENTS

S.B. No. 175: AN ACT IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE AUDITORS OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS. This bill provides that effective October 1, 2018, no state agency could make any payment in excess of $50,000 to a resigning or retiring employee for the purpose of avoiding costs of potential litigation or pursuant to a non-disparagement agreement, unless the payment is 1) made pursuant to a settlement agreement entered into by the Attorney General on behalf of the state agency, or 2) authorized by the Governor.  The bill further provides that effective October 1, 2018, no quasi-public agency could make any payment in excess of $50,000 to a resigning or retiring employee for the purpose of avoiding costs of potential litigation or pursuant to a non-disparagement agreement. In addition, the bill provides that no such settlement or non-disparagement agreement could prohibit 1) a state agency employee from making a complaint or providing information in accordance with the state whistleblower or false claims acts, or 2) a quasi-public employee from making a complaint or providing information in accordance with the state whistleblower act.

MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS

  1. B. No. 543 AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE STATE BUDGET FOR FISCAL YEAR 2019 AND DEFICIENCY APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018. Among other things, the “budget bill” provides that no collective bargaining agreement entered into on or after July 1, 2018 between a municipality and an exclusive bargaining representatives of a municipality’s employees shall contain any provision limiting the ability of the municipality to permit volunteer services for the maintenance of buildings and grounds, provided there is no impact on the wages or conditions of employment of represented employees. This bill has been signed by the Governor

PUBLIC EMPLOYEES AND FOIA REQUESTS FOR PERSONNEL FILES 

H.B. No. 5177 AN ACT CONCERNING EMPLOYEE NOTIFICATION OF REQUESTS MADE UNDER THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT. This bill (which would take effect on October 1, 2018) provides that whenever a public agency receives a request to inspect or copy records contained in any of its employees’ personnel or medical files and similar files, and the agency reasonably believes that the disclosure of such records would not legally constitute an invasion of privacy, the agency must first disclose the requested records to the person making the request to inspect or copy such records; this provision is consistent with current FOIA requirements. However, this bill would amend the FOIA to also require the agency to subsequently, within a reasonable time after such disclosure, make a reasonable attempt to send a written or an electronic copy of the request to inspect or copy such records, if applicable, or a brief description of such request, to each employee concerned and the collective bargaining representative, if any, of each employee concerned.