New Labor Law Updates from the Connecticut General Assembly

Connecticut’s 2021 legislative session began on January 6, 2021 and ended on June 9, 2021. The legislature also held a special session from June 15 to 17, 2021. Several laws have been passed by the House and Senate and signed. by Governor Ned Lamont. Others await the governor’s signature. Employers should be made aware of the following new labor and employment legislation.

Legislation signed by the governor

Public law n ° 21-2: Law creating a respectful and open world for natural hair

The new law amends the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, which already prohibits employers of three or more employees from discriminating against employees on the basis of protected traits – namely, religion, national origin, alienation, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexuality orientation, blindness, mental handicap, physical handicap or veteran status. Specifically, the bill states that “race” encompasses ethnic traits historically associated with race, including hair texture and protective hairstyles. He specifies that protective hairstyles should include braids, cornrows, locs, twists, Bantu knots, afros and afro puffs. This law entered into force upon its adoption.

Public law n ° 21-27: law relating to breastfeeding at work

The new law, which comes into force on October 1, 2021, amends Connecticut’s existing law regarding breastfeeding in the workplace by requiring that breastfeeding rooms: (1) be secure from intrusion and safe shelter from the public while the employee is expressing his milk; (2) include or be located near a refrigerator or portable refrigeration appliance provided by the employee in which an employee can store expressed breast milk; and (3) include access to an electrical outlet. Employers with one or more employees must adhere to these requirements as long as they do not create undue hardship on the employer.

Public Law No. 21-30: An Act respecting the disclosure of the salary scale for a vacant position

Effective October 1, 2021, employers with one or more employees must disclose the salary range of a vacant position to any job applicant before or at the time an offer of compensation is made, or at the applicant’s request, whichever comes first. The bill also requires employers to disclose the pay scale for an employee’s position upon hiring, when the employee changes jobs or at the employee’s first request for such. information. “Salary range” is defined as “the range of salaries that an employer plans to rely on when setting wages for a position. In addition, the bill states that employees can demonstrate discrimination in employment on the basis of sex if they are paid less than the rate at which the employer pays employees of the opposite sex for comparable work (rather than equal). For more information on this bill, please see Robinson + Cole’s legal update regarding the legislation here.

Senate Bill 1201: An Act Respecting Responsible and Fair Regulation of Cannabis for Adults

The bill legalizes the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years of age and older effective July 1, 2021. Commercial sale of marijuana in the state is expected to begin by the end of May 2022. A licensee provisional cannabis establishment license will be required to enter into a labor peace agreement with a labor organization as well as a project labor agreement prior to the construction of a cannabis establishment; however, these requirements are likely to raise possible pre-emption issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Employers may also want to consider the implications of this bill for drug testing programs, especially pre-employment testing.

Senate Bill No.1202: Law on Provisions Relating to Revenue and Other Elements of the State Budget for the Biennium Ending June 30, 2023

The bill contains several provisions related to work and employment, including a notice requirement for call centers moving from Connecticut; a requirement that each employer grant employees two hours of unpaid leave for state elections; a requirement that employers subject to unemployment laws with 100 or more employees submit gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, veteran status, disability status and level highest education of each employee; various changes to the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA); and a ban on employers misinforming or deliberately dissuading employees from filing workers’ compensation claims.

Legislation awaiting the governor’s signature

Public Law No. 21-69: Law to Discourage Discrimination on the Basis of Age in Job Applications

The bill prohibits employers with three or more employees from asking for an applicant’s age, date of birth, date (s) of graduation, or dates of attendance at an educational institution. employment during a first job application. The law provides an exception if the request is based on a bona fide professional qualification or if the information is required to comply with federal or state law.

Public Law No. 21-107: An Act to expand workers’ compensation benefits for certain mental or emotional impairments suffered by health care providers in connection with COVID-19

The bill improves workers’ compensation benefits available to certain people, including health care providers, police officers and telecommunications service providers, for post-traumatic stress disorder related to certain traumatic events related to COVID-19 experienced in the course of their employment. These events include witnessing the death of a person due to COVID-19, witnessing an injury to a person who subsequently dies from COVID-19, having physical contact with or to provide care to a person who subsequently dies of COVID-19, and to witness a traumatic physical injury that results in the loss of a vital function of a person’s body due to COVID-19.

Public Law No. 21-109: Law on the Duties and Responsibilities of the Human Rights and Opportunities Commission

The bill allows employers to forgo training on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace for an employee who has received mandatory in-person training or who has participated in online training provided by the Human Rights Commission and opportunities (CHRO) under another employer in the two years preceding his hiring. The bill also requires equal employment opportunities officials of state entities to investigate discrimination complaints filed against the entity, even though a complaint has also been filed with the CHRO or the Commission. for Equal Employment Opportunities (EEOC).

Bill n ° 6378: law codifying the rates of wage contracts in force

Instead of allowing the labor commissioner to set the prevailing wage rates either on his own or by adopting applicable rate determinations made by the federal labor secretary, the bill establishes its own method that the labor commissioner labor must use to set the prevailing wage rates on public works. projects. It establishes one process for construction, heavy and road projects and another for residential projects. For construction, heavy and road projects, the commissioner is required to ensure that the hourly wage rate in effect is the same as the rate established in the collective agreement or the agreement between employers or employers’ associations. and the trade unions in force for this trade or profession for the city in which the project is being built. When more than one collective agreement is in force, the bill requires that the prevailing wage rate be determined by the collective agreement of “historical jurisdiction” rather than by the “dominant” agreement. When no collective agreement is in effect, the commissioner must adopt the wage rates in effect determined by the federal government. For residential projects, the commissioner must adopt the prevailing wage rates determined by the federal government.

Senate Bill 658: Law requiring employers to recall certain workers made redundant in order of seniority [Relates to COVID-19 Lay Offs]

The bill concerns employees made redundant during the COVID-19 pandemic (occurring after March 10, 2020 and until December 31, 2024) due to a lack of activity or a reduction or time off from the employer’s workforce or other economic, non-disciplinary reason. The bill requires all employers to send notice to these terminated employees of all positions that become available for which they are qualified. To be qualified, the worker must have held the same or a similar position at the time of termination, or be, or could be, qualified with the same training as a new employee. The employer offers the position to a laid-off employee who is qualified for the position. If more than one laid-off employee is entitled to a preference for a position based on their level of qualification, the employee with the most seniority must be offered the position.

These new laws may require employers to change some of their employment practices and policies. As employers review new legislation to determine how it affects their workplaces, they may wish to speak with competent legal counsel to ensure compliance with these laws.

Copyright © 2021 Robinson & Cole LLP. All rights reserved.Revue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 175

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