Employment Law Articles

Connecticut’s Employer Defamation Defense

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            The Connecticut Supreme Court unanimously held that an employer will be liable for defamatory intra-company communications made with either “actual malice” or “malice in fact.” Gambardella v. Apple Health Care, Inc., 291 Conn. 620 (2009). A statement made with “actual malice” is one made with actual knowledge of its falsity or with reckless disregard for its truth. A statement made with “malice in fact” is one made with bad faith or improper motive. Proving actual malice is more difficult.

Recording Conversations Without Adequate Consent Violates Law

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            Secretly recording a telephone conversation without the consent of all parties participating in the conversation, such as between an employee and supervisor, violates Connecticut civil law. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-570d makes it unlawful for anyone to record a phone conversation without the consent of all parties to the communication. Such consent must be obtained in advance, in writing, or verbally at the start of the recording, or through automatic tone warnings throughout the conversation.

Employers Responsible for Added Taxes Stemming from Lump Sum Awards

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            The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that employers can be held liable for any additional taxes employees must pay when receiving a lump sum award. Eshelman v. Agere Systems, Inc., 554 F. 3d 426 (3d Cir. 2009).

Drafting an Effective Employee Handbook

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            While the law does not require employers to have an employee handbook, laws at both the state and federal level do require that employers have written employment policies. Handbooks are the most efficient way to inform employees of the organization’s expectations and achieve legal compliance. Most handbooks, at a minimum, include an employer’s human resource policies, information on compensation and benefits, conduct expectations, and disciplinary procedures. While using a template may provide a good starting point, additional effort should be exerted so that the handbook reflects the organization’s culture and philosophies. Simple, easily understood language is crucial, as are translated editions where you have significant numbers of non-English speakers.

Connecticut’s Personal Information Protection Requirements

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            Effective October 1, 2008, Connecticut employers must establish and publish or publically display a “privacy protection policy” stating how it will protect the confidentiality of, and limit access to, social security numbers in its possession. (P.A. 08-167). In addition, companies must safeguard “personal information” defined as any information capable of being associated with a particular individual through one or more identifiers, including but not limited to social security, driver’s license, credit card account, passport, alien registration, and health insurance numbers. Also, organizations must destroy, erase, or make unreadable personal data prior to disposal. Intentional violations shall subject an organization to civil penalties of $500 for each violation, provided such civil penalty shall not exceed $500,000 for any single event.


 

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