Employment Law Articles

Connecticut Supreme Court Limits Employee Free Speech Protections

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            The Connecticut Supreme Court recently issued two important decisions limiting employee free speech claims, Schumann v. Dianon Systems, Inc., 304 Conn. 585 (2012) and Perez-Dickson v. City of Bridgeport, 304 Conn. 483 (2012). Both cases centered on whether employers violate Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51q when they discipline employees for statements made in connection with the performance of their job duties.

Employer's Guide to Connecticut Employment Laws

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At-Will Nature of Employment

            Connecticut recognizes the “at-will” doctrine. This means that all employment relationships, except those stating a definite duration, or a “just cause” standard for termination, can be terminated by either party, at any time, with or without notice, for any reason, or no reason at all, provided the termination is not for an unlawful reason. Terminations for an unlawful reason include those based on illegal discrimination, or in violation of statutory rights, or in violation of public policy. Terminations in violation of public policy include cases where the employee was unlawfully fired for reporting regulatory violations, and refusing to work in an unsafe environment See Parsons v. United Technology Corp., 243 Conn. 66 (1997) and Sheets v. Teddy’s Frosted Foods, Inc., 179 Conn. 471 (1980) for a discussion of the public policy concept.

Connecticut Negligent Hiring Claims

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            The Connecticut Supreme Court has long recognized the common-law claim of negligent hiring. Shore v. Stonington, 187 Conn. 147, 155 (1982); Stiebitz v. Mahoney, 144 Conn. 443 (1957). Negligent hiring extends to any situation where a third party is injured by an employer’s negligence in failing to select an employee fit or competent to perform the services of employment. To prevail, the injured party must prove that the employer knew or should have known that the employee had a propensity to engage in the alleged conduct, and that he was reasonably likely to engage in such conduct. In such instances, the employer’s liability is not vicarious, but direct and personal.

HR Professionals Required to Have Strong Social Media Skills

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            According to a recent survey conducted by WANTED Technologies and published in SHRM’s HR Trendbook 2012, more than 1000 new ads for HR positions listed in 2011 included requirements for advanced social media skills. This represented a 160% increase from the same period in 2010. More specifically, hiring firms wanted HR staff to be able to develop recruiting strategies that effectively use the Internet and social media sites. Companies expect HR to stay abreast of new and innovative sourcing techniques, best practices, and know how to use web searches, apps, and job boards to generate leads. Simply knowing how to tweet job openings, or scour LinkedIn or Facebook to find talent, is no longer enough.

Employee Dissatisfaction at All Time High

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             A recent report by Gallup showed that people of all ages and income levels are increasingly unhappy with their supervisors, apathetic about their organizations, and detached from what they do. Gallup estimates this “disengagement” costs business about $300 billion per year in lost productivity. In a separate report from Right Management, a human resource consulting group, 84 percent of current employees plan to look for a new job in 2012. The results compare to a 2009 finding in which 60 percent of employees stated they intended to seek new employment.


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