Employment Law Articles

Connecticut Employees Gain Broader Free Speech Rights

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The Connecticut Supreme Court recently weighed in on the scope of employee free speech rights in the workplace.  Trusz v. UBS Realty Investors, LLC.  In doing so, it expanded the protections afforded employees when speaking out on matters of public concern, including those related to their job duties.  The Court’s interpretation will bolster the rights of whistleblowers reporting job related wrongdoing, and better protect employees speaking out on serious job related issues.

Connecticut Expands Employee Pay, Online Privacy, and Intern Protections

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            During the recent legislative session, Connecticut laws were changed to expand employee rights in several key areas. Employers who fail to properly pay all wages owed will now be automatically liable for double damages, unless they can show a good faith basis for the failure to pay. In addition, employers may no longer deny employees the right to discuss their wage rates with co-workers. Employers will also be prohibited from asking employees for passwords to their social media accounts, and unpaid interns gained new protections under the state’s anti-discrimination law.

Don't Let Workplace Bullies Cause You a Black Eye

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            Workplace bullying may be lawful, but it is bad for business. In a 2012 survey by CareerBuilder, about one third of all employees reported being bullied at work. About seventeen percent of those bullied quit their jobs, while a similar percentage reported health problems related to the bullying behavior. Employers pay a direct cost for such behavior in turnover and increased medical premiums. In addition, plaintiff attorneys are studying new strategies to bring suits against companies who continue to tolerate abusive behavior. Given the conduct employees must often contend with, it is easy to see why. 

Further Limitations Placed on Use of Criminal Records

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             Effective October 1, 2014, Connecticut further limited the rights of employers to use criminal records in making employment decisions. Public Act 14-27 amends Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-51i, subsections (d) and (e), which up to this point prohibited employers from denying employment to a prospective employee, or discriminating against or discharging a current employee, solely on the basis that the employee, or prospective employee, had a prior arrest, criminal charge, or conviction, the records of which had been erased pursuant to section 46b-146, 54-76o, or 54-142a. Further, employers were prohibited from considering convictions where the employee or prospective employee received a provisional pardon pursuant to 54-130a. For current employees, these rules applied only to arrests, criminal charges and convictions that occurred prior to the time of employment. 

Employees Gain Rapid Access to Personnel, Disciplinary and Performance Documents

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             Effective October 1, 2013, Connecticut employees will be able to inspect and/or obtain copies of their personnel file more quickly than in the past.  Also, employees will now be entitled to copies of any disciplinary documentation, notices of termination, and performance evaluations.  They retain the right to refute the contents of any such document, in writing.  P.A. 13-176. 

            Previously, employers were required to let employees inspect their personnel files, or get copies, within a “reasonable period.”  This left the time frame ambiguous and made enforcement difficult.  Now, employers have seven (7) business days to comply once they receive a written request from a current employee.  Requests from former employees must be complied with within ten (10) business days, provided the request is received in writing within one (1) year following termination.


 

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