Employment Law Articles

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.

Careless Drafting of Non-Compete Agreements Can Lead to Enforceability Problems

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             A recent Florida Appellate Court case highlights the need to carefully draft non-compete agreements.  Heiderich v. Florida Equine Veterinary Services, Inc.  In that case, the ex employee was prohibited from “owning, managing, operating, controlling, being employed by, assisting, participating in, or having any material interest in any business engaged in a general equine veterinary practice within 30 miles of the former employer.”  The former employee opened an office just outside the 30 mile zone and treated patients, including those of the former employer, within the 30 mile zone.  The former employer sought an injunction, but the Appellate Court found for the former employee.  In doing so, it interpreted the relevant clause to prohibit the former employee from establishing a physical location within 30 miles, but it did not prevent the performance of competitive services within 30 miles.


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