Weeks before the uproar over revelations that U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty paid her chief of staff a $5,000 severance package and signed a non-disclosure agreement concerning sexual harassment allegations made against him, the Connecticut state Senate raised Senate Bill 503, An Act Requiring Approval of State Agency Settlement and Nondisclosure Agreements.” The bill, if approved by the General Assembly – would require legislative approval of certain payments made to state employees pursuant to a nondisclosure or separation agreement. Continue Reading Connecticut Considers Requiring Legislative Approval of Agency Settlement Payments and Nondisclosure Agreements
A new Massachusetts law significantly enhances existing anti-discrimination protections for pregnant employees. The “Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” effective April 1, 2018, prevents discrimination against, and expressly protects, employees who are pregnant or are experiencing pre- and post-birth pregnancy-related medical needs, including, but not limited to, lactation, expressing breast milk, and recovering from childbirth. Continue Reading Take Note: the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Is Now In Effect!
The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (“MEPA”), which amends the Massachusetts Equal Pay Law, goes into effect July 1, 2018, and applies to all employers regardless of their size, including the state and its municipalities. Massachusetts was the first state in the country to pass an equal pay law and, in fact, preceded the federal Equal Pay Act by 18 years. The 2018 amendments make MEPA one of the strongest pay equity laws in the country, intended to close the reported 84.3.% pay gap for working women in Massachusetts. In advance of this upcoming deadline, Attorney General Maura Healey (“AG”) issued MEPA Guidance on March 1, 2018. Continue Reading Updated Massachusetts Equal Pay Law to Take Effect on July 1, 2018
The #TimesUp and #MeToo movements continue to be a force of national reckoning over sexual assault and harassment. This month, the New York City Council harnessed the energy from those social movements and transformed it into legislative action by introducing a series of bills aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the workplace. The Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act is a package of eleven bills that would significantly expand the obligations of many employers to prevent sexual harassment. Continue Reading New York City Council Introduces Package of Legislation Aimed at Strengthening Anti-Sexual Harassment Policies
In light of all the recent storms, Connecticut employers should be reminded that the Connecticut Department of Labor’s rules on deducting paid time off (“PTO”) from an exempt employee’s PTO bank for office closures differ from federal law. While federal law allows employers to deduct PTO from an exempt employee’s PTO bank for an office closure, the CT DOL prohibits this practice when the employer chooses to close the office. By way of reminder, here is the CT DOL guidance on the deduction of PTO from an exempt employee’s PTO bank:
Inclement weather/Furlough days-Related Scenarios for Exempt Employees
- Employer excuses exempt employee from work: Full salary must be paid. No deduction in salary is permissible. It is also not permissible to use fringe benefit (i.e., PTO) to cover the time.
- Exempt employee requests day off because of the weather: Reduction in salary is permissible. Fringe benefits (PTO) may be used to cover the time off.
- Employer excuses exempt employee sometime during the day because of worsening weather: Full salary must be paid. No use of fringe benefits to make up time is permissible.
- Exempt employee asks to go home because of bad weather after starting work: Time off can be taken from fringe benefits, but employer must pay pro-rata portion of salary for the day to cover time actually worked. If employee has exhausted fringe benefit, the employer must still pay the full salary because the employee worked that day.
- Employer tells employee that the usual place of work will not open for the day, but that work can still be performed either at home or at some location other than the usual place of work: Full salary must be paid.
CT DOL Guidance
In a significant decision reflecting the evolution of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which covers Connecticut, New York and Vermont, has ruled in Zarda v. Altitude Express, No. 15-3775, en banc, (2d Cir. 2018) that Title VII protects individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, even though Title VII itself does not expressly state that it applies to sexual orientation discrimination. The case provides fascinating insight into how courts’ interpretations of statutes may change over time in light of changing social mores and developing doctrine. The issue is likely to make its way to the Supreme Court because although the Seventh Circuit (Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin) agrees that Title VII prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, the Eleventh Circuit (Alabama, Florida and Georgia) has held that it does not. Continue Reading Second Circuit Prohibits Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Last week, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter to leaders in Congress, urging the passage of legislation that would prohibit mandatory arbitration of workplace sexual harassment claims. In the letter, 56 attorneys general of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Virgin Islands called on Congress to allow victims of workplace sexual harassment claims to have their days in court and be afforded the “procedural and substantive due process” that comes with proceeding with a lawsuit. Continue Reading Attorneys General Support Ending Arbitration of Workplace Sexual Harassment Claims
Apparently believing that employers are not capable of considering employees’ requests for reasonable accommodation on their own, the New York City Council has decided to dictate how those requests should be handled. Continue Reading NYC Council Obligates Employers to Engage in “Cooperative Dialogue” for Reasonable Accommodation Requests
Not surprisingly, most states require employers to pay employees any earned “wages” within a certain period of time after their employment ends. Many states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, the time period to pay outstanding wages depends on how the employment relationship ends. Continue Reading What Is A “Wage”?
The Labor & Employment landscape continues to change and present compliance challenges. These seminars will focus on hot topics in 2018 and will include:
- 2018 Updates & Trends to Watch
- Harassment in the Workplace
- Developments in Immigration Policies Affecting Employers
- Marijuana in the Workplace