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Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your state?
The following issues are relevant for Connecticut:
- The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act offers more protections to employees than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 46a-51 and following).
- Connecticut provides special protection to pregnant employees. For example, employers must provide a reasonable leave of absence for a disability resulting from a pregnancy and reinstate the employee to her original job or to an equivalent position unless it is impossible or unreasonable to do so (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(7)).
- Connecticut requires employers with 50 or more employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisors within six months of beginning a supervisor role (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-54).
- Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act provides 16 weeks of leave in a 24-month period (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-51kk and following).
- Connecticut’s paid sick leave statute requires employers with 50 or more employees—excluding most manufacturing companies and certain nationally-chartered tax-exempt organizations—to provide non-exempt “service worker” employees a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave per year (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-57r and following).
- Connecticut law requires employers with 100 or more employees to provide health insurance continuation after a plant closure or relocation (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-51n and following).
What do you consider unique to those doing business in your state?
Connecticut has traditionally prided itself on being at the forefront for protections to employees in the workplace. The state’s anti-discrimination statutes are among the oldest in the country and the courts have enforced them in ways that often go beyond federal protections. Examples include protections for disability and sexual orientation discrimination. Similarly, the state has a robust statutory and regulatory scheme of wage and hour and wage payment protections that exceed federal law in several instances. The state also has a higher concentration of organized labor than most states, especially in the public sector.
Connecticut law prohibits employers from:
- refusing to hire;
- penalizing; or
- threatening a job applicant or employee solely on the basis of his or her medical marijuana use as a “qualifying patient” or “primary caregiver” (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 21a-408p).
In addition, Connecticut has a number of wage and hour and wage payment laws relating to the following:
- meal breaks (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51ii);
- breastfeeding in the workplace (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40W);
- the timing and manner for payment of wages (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-71b and 31-71i);
- the payment of wages on termination of employment (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-71c);
- the payment of fringe benefits on termination of employment (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-76k);
- the employment of minors (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-12 and following); and
- payment for jury duty (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 51-247).
Is there any general advice you would give in the labor/employment area?
Employers should be aware of the differences between Connecticut and federal laws and understand that Connecticut laws offer more protections to employees in a number of areas.
What are the emerging trends in employment law in your state, including the interplay with other areas of law, such as firearms legislation, legalization of marijuana and privacy?
Connecticut law continues its tradition of providing liberal protections for employees. In 2011 Connecticut was one of the first states to recognize gender identity or expression as a protected class. It also was the first state to require most employers to provide paid sick leave.
In 2014 Connecticut legalized medical marijuana.
In 2016 Connecticut passed “Ban the Box” legislation, which prohibits most employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal history on an initial application form.
Connecticut’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 per hour and this is likely to increase in the future.
Connecticut’s state and municipal governments face significant budget issues, which is likely to lead to changes and issues in public sector labor relations in the future.
Proposals for reform
Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your state?
The Connecticut General Assembly has proposed the following reforms:
- pay equity;
- paid family medical leave; and
- $15 per hour minimum wage legislation.
There have been discussions in the Connecticut legislature about legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.
Connecticut also passed Public Act 16-29, which created the Connecticut Retirement Security Authority and granted it authorization to establish a program requiring certain private sector employers to establish Roth Individual Retirement Accounts for their employees.
What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?
Title 31 of the Connecticut General Statutes governs labor law, including:
- minimum wage;
- payment of wage; and
Title 46a of the Connecticut General Statutes contains the state’s anti-discrimination statute, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. The act is important as it provides broader protection than Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964 and has been construed more liberally by Connecticut state courts. An example of a protected class under the act—which is not available under Title VII—is gender identity or expression.
Who do these cover, including categories of workers?
Connecticut’s Fair Employment Practice Act applies to the state and all political subdivisions and any employer with three or more employees. All employees who work for a covered employer are protected under the act.
Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?
Regarding worker compensation, Connecticut courts use the common law right to control test, which focuses on whether the putative employer has the right to control the means and methods used by the worker in the performance of the work (see Hanson v. Trans Gen, Inc. 245 Conn. 613 1998).
Regarding unemployment compensation, the Connecticut Department of Labor uses the statutory ABC test. The ABC test applies three factors, each of which must be met for an individual to be considered an independent contractor (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-222(a)(1)(B)).
Must an employment contract be in writing?
Generally, there is no requirement that an employment contract be in writing. However, a contract for a fixed duration must be in writing to satisfy the Statute of Frauds (see Finley v. Aetna Life and Cas Co, 202 Conn. 190 (1987)).
In addition, an employment contract for a real estate broker—often called a listing contract—must be in writing (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 20-325a and see Revere Real Estate, Inc. v. Creator, 186 Conn. 74 (1982)).
Are any terms implied into employment contracts?
The implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is implied in employment contracts (see Magnan v. Anaconda Indus, Inc., 193 Conn. 558 (1984)).
Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?
How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?
Modifications to existing employment agreements are subject to traditional principles of contract law.
What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?
With limited exceptions, Connecticut law prohibits employers from advertising employment opportunities in a way which discriminates against individuals based on a protected class status (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(6)).
What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?
(a) Criminal records and arrests
With limited exceptions, employers are prohibited from inquiring about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51i(b)). Employers may inquire about such information after the initial employment application.
Employers cannot require an employee or prospective employee to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge or conviction the records of which have been erased, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 46b-146, 54-76o and 54-142a. This includes:
- youthful offender adjudications;
- criminal charges that have been dismissed; and
- convictions that have been pardoned.
(b) Medical history
Connecticut has no applicable statute regarding medical history. However, employers should be aware of and comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, both of which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.
(c) Drug screening
Connecticut regulates urinalysis drug testing of prospective and existing employees (see Privacy in the workplace).
Employers may not require a prospective employee to submit to a urinalysis drug test as part of the application process unless:
- the applicant is informed of the drug screening in writing at the time of application;
- the test is conducted in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-51u(a)(1) and (2); and
- the applicant is given a copy of any positive drug test result.
The statute requires that the results of any such drug test be kept confidential.
Individuals who were previously employed by the employer and who are applying for re-employment within 12 months of their termination are considered current employees for purposes of drug testing (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-51t and following).
An employer cannot refuse to hire an applicant or discharge or penalize an employee solely on the basis of such person’s status as a qualifying medical marijuana patient (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 21a-408p(b)(3)).
(d) Credit checks
With limited exceptions, an employer may not require prospective or existing employees to consent to a request for a credit report that contains information about:
- his or her credit score;
- credit account balances;
- payment history;
- savings or checking account balances; or
- savings or checking account numbers as a condition of employment (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51tt).
(e) Immigration status
Connecticut has no applicable statute regarding immigration status.
(f) Social media
Employers are prohibited from requesting or requiring an applicant to provide his or her user name and password or any other authentication details for a personal online account (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40x(b)(1)). Personal online accounts include social media accounts (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40x(a)(5)).
With limited exceptions, during the hiring process employers are prohibited from:
- requesting information about an individual’s child bearing age or plans, familial responsibilities or related information (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(9));
- requesting information about an individual’s genetics (Section 46a-60(a)(11)(A)); and
- requiring an individual to take a polygraph test (Section 31-51g(b)(1)).
Wage and hour
What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?
Title 31 of the Connecticut General Statutes and the applicable regulations are the main sources of wage and hour law.
What is the minimum hourly wage?
The minimum wage in Connecticut is $10.10 per hour (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-58(i) as of January 1 2017).
Minors may be paid a sub-minimum wage (85% of the minimum wage) for the first 200 hours of work. In some circumstances a tip credit may be applied against the minimum wage for certain wait staff and bartenders (Regs., Conn. State Agencies Section 31-62-E1(a)).
What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?
An employee who voluntarily terminates employment must be paid his or her wages in full not later than the next regular pay day. An employee who is involuntarily terminated must be paid in full not later than the next business day after discharge (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-71c(a) and (b)).
An employer may make deductions from the employee’s wages only in certain limited circumstances (see Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-71e).
Hours and overtime
What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?
An employee who works seven-and-a-half or more consecutive hours is entitled to a 30-minute meal break at some time after the first two hours of work and before the last two hours. The statute provides limited exceptions, including:
- if the employer provides at least 30 or more total minutes of paid rest or meal periods;
- if the employer and employee have entered into a written agreement providing for a different schedule of meal periods; or
- if the employer employs fewer than five employees on a shift in a single place of business.
What are the maximum hour rules?
Employees must be paid overtime for all hours worked in excess of 40 in one working week (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-76c).
Employers cannot require employees who work in a commercial occupation or industrial process to work more than six days in one calendar week (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 53-303e(a)).
In certain industries, Connecticut law limits the working weeks of:
- elderly workers, unless they consent;
- handicapped workers, unless they consent and provide a doctor's certificate that working longer hours does not injure their health; and
- disabled veterans, unless they consent and provide a doctor's certificate that working longer hours does not injure their health (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-12(a), 31-13(a) and 31-18(a) and (c)).
With regard to minors under the age of 18, there are numerous restrictions on the types and hours of permitted employment. For example, all minors are prohibited from working in occupations deemed hazardous by the Connecticut Department of Labor (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-23).
The Connecticut Department of Labor maintains a comprehensive list of permitted and prohibited occupations for minors—including permitted and prohibited hours of employment—on its website (see also Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-12, 31-13, 31-18, 31-23 and 31-25).
The Connecticut Department of Labor has issued wage orders establishing minimum hours for which employees in the mercantile and restaurant and hotel industries must be paid if the employer requires them to report to work (Regs., Conn. State Agencies Sections 31-62-D2 and 31-62-E1(b)).
How should overtime be calculated?
A non-exempt employee must be paid at one-and-a-half times his or her regular rate for all hours worked in excess of 40 in one working week. The “regular rate” includes all remuneration paid to the employee, excluding:
- discretionary gifts and bonuses;
- paid time off
- reasonable expense reimbursements;
- contributions to genuine retirement and insurance plans; and
- extra compensation provided by certain premium rates paid for hours worked on certain days or shifts.
For non-exempt delivery drivers or sales merchandisers paid on a base salary and commission basis, the regular rate is one-fortieth of the employee’s weekly pay (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-76b and 31-76c).
What exemptions are there from overtime?
Connecticut recognizes the executive, administrative and professional exemptions (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-58(e)). Connecticut does not recognize the computer professional or highly compensated exemptions.
Connecticut recognizes several other exemptions, including, without limitation:
- drivers and helpers regulated by the federal Department of Transportation;
- announcers, news editors, or chief engineers at radio or television stations;
- outside salespeople, as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act;
- certain inside salespeople;
- certain taxicab drivers;
- certain household delivery route salespeople;
- certain automobile salespeople;
- agricultural employees;
- police officers;
- beer delivery truck drivers, unless they are paid hourly; and
- motor vehicle or farm-implement mechanics (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-58(e) and 31-76i).
What payroll and payment records must be maintained?
With limited exceptions, an employer must keep records for a period of three years at the employee’s place of employment—unless the Department of Labor allows the employer to keep the records elsewhere. Such records must include, without limitation:
- each employee’s name, home address and occupation;
- total daily and weekly hours worked, including the beginning and ending time of each work period, computed to the nearest unit of 15 minutes;
- overtime wage as a separate item from the basic wages;
- additions to or deductions from wages for each pay period;
- records of wages paid to employees compensated under an incentive plan; and
- gratuities claimed as a credit against the required minimum wage.
For exempt employees, employers must maintain for three years records of each employee's:
- home address;
- total wages paid in each work period;
- dates of payments; and
- pay periods covered by payments (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-66 and Regs., of Conn. State Agencies Sections 31-60-1, 31-60-2 and 31-60-12).
Discrimination, harassment and family leave
What is the state law in relation to:
The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits age discrimination without regard to a specific age (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(1)).
Discrimination on the basis of an individual’s race, color, or national origin is unlawful (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(1)).
Discrimination on the basis of "present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability or physical disability” is unlawful (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(1)).
While the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act is silent on ‘reasonable accommodations’, the Connecticut Supreme Court has interpreted the statute as imposing a reasonable accommodation requirement (see Curry v. Allan S Goodman, Inc., 286 Conn. 390 (2008)).
The Connecticut Supreme Court also held that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits employers from discriminating against individuals whom they perceive to be physically disabled (see Desrosiers v. Diageo North America, Inc., 314 Conn. 773 (2014)).
The statutory definition of “mental disability” expressly includes individuals who are “regarded as having one or more mental disorders” (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-51(20)).
Sex and gender identity or expression discrimination is unlawful (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(1)).
(e) Sexual orientation?
Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is unlawful (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-81c).
Discrimination on the basis of religious creed is unlawful (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(1)).
Connecticut employers cannot request or require genetic information or discriminate on the basis of such information (Section 46a-60(a)(11)).
It is illegal to discriminate against a female employee because of pregnancy and employers must make a reasonable effort to transfer a pregnant employee to any suitable and available temporary position when the employee reasonably believes that continued employment in her position may cause injury to her or to her fetus (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(7)).
The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act applies to all employers with three or more employees. Individuals may be personally liable for:
- compelling; or
- coercing “the doing of any act declared to be a discriminatory employment practice or to attempt to do so” (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(5)).
Unlike federal law, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act does not provide for an award of punitive damages (see Tomick v. United Postal Services, Inc., 324 Conn. 470, 153 A3d 615 (2016)).
Connecticut also prohibits discrimination based on:
- marital status;
- national origin;
- prior criminal arrests or convictions;
- qualified medical marijuana patient status;
- breastfeeding in the workplace;
- an employee’s opposition to discriminatory employment practices; and
- an employee’s filing of a claim for workers’ compensation.
What is the state law in relation to harassment?
An employer cannot harass an employee on the basis of the individual’s inclusion in a protected class. The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act specifically prohibits the harassment of employees and prospective employees on the basis of sex or gender identity or expression (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(8)). The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act definition of “sexual harassment” is consistent with federal law (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 46a-60(a)(8)).
Connecticut regulations require that employers with 50 or more employees provide two hours of sexual harassment training to supervisory employees and to all new supervisory employees within six months of their promotion to a supervisory position (Regs., Conn. State Agencies Section 46a-45-204(b)).
Employers with three or more employees must post notices concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment in prominent and accessible locations where notices to employees are customarily posted (Regs., Conn. State Agencies Sections 46a-54-201 and 202).
Family and medical leave
What is the state law in relation to family and medical leave?
Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act is governed by (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 31-51kk-31-51rr). Connecticut’s version of the act differs from the federal act in the following ways:
- Only employers with 75 or more employees are covered under the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act. The state, municipalities, local or regional board of education, and private and parochial elementary and secondary schools are not covered employers (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51kk(4)).
- Employees are entitled to 16 working weeks of leave during any two-year period (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51ll(a)(1)).
- Employees only need to work 1,000 hours of service in the 12 months before leave to be eligible (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-55kk(1)).
- Connecticut includes the “parent of the employee’s spouse” within the definition of a “family relationship” (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51qq-8).
- Employees are entitled to leave in order to serve as an organ or bone marrow donor (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51ll(a)(2)).
- The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act does not require employers to maintain an employee’s health insurance coverage during leave.
- The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to use up to two weeks of accumulated sick leave for the serious health condition of a parent, spouse, son or daughter or for the birth or adoption of a son or daughter of the employee (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51pp(c)(1)).
- The Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act provides that an employee is returned to an equivalent position only if his or her original position is not available on return, while the federal law allows the employee to be returned to the same or equivalent position.
- On the expiry of the leave, the state law requires the employer to transfer the employee who is unable to perform his or her original job to work suitable to the employee’s physical condition, if such work is available.
- Unlike the federal law, Connecticut does not have an exception for “key employees”.
Privacy in the workplace
Privacy and monitoring
What are employees’ rights with regard to privacy and monitoring?
Employers generally must give employees written notice of the types of electric monitoring that the employer uses in the workplace. Employees have no right to notice if the employer has reasonable grounds to believe that the employee is engaged in conduct that:
- violates the law;
- violates the legal rights of the employer or the employer’s employees; or
- creates a hostile work environment and the electronic monitoring may produce evidence of this conduct (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-48d(b)(1)).
Employees may not be subject to monitoring in workplace areas designed for the health or personal comfort of the employees or for safeguarding of their possessions, such as rest rooms, locker rooms, or lounges (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-48b).
Polygraphs Employers generally cannot request or require any prospective employee or any employee to submit to, or take, a polygraph examination as a condition of employment or dismiss or discipline an employee for failing, refusing or declining to submit to or take a polygraph examination. This prohibition does not apply to state and municipal law enforcement and corrections officers (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51g).
Urinalysis drug testing Employers generally may not require any existing employee to submit to a urinalysis drug test unless the employer has reasonable suspicion that the employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which adversely affects or could adversely affect their job performance. An employer may require an employee to submit to a urinalysis drug test on a random basis if:
- authorized under federal law;
- the employee serves in an occupation which has been designated, by the labor commissioner, as a high-risk or safety-sensitive occupation;
- the employee is employed to operate a school bus or a student transportation vehicle; or
- the urinalysis is conducted as part of an employee assistance program sponsored or authorized by the employer in which the employee voluntarily participates (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51x).
Personnel records No individually identifiable information contained in the personnel file or medical records of any employee may be disclosed by an employer to a third party without the written authorization of the employee, except where the information is limited to the verification of dates of employment and the employee’s title or position and wage or salary or where the disclosure is made:
- to a third party that maintains or prepares employment records or performs other employment-related services for the employer;
- pursuant to a lawfully issued administrative summons or judicial order, including a search warrant or subpoena, or in response to a government audit or the investigation or defense of personnel-related complaints against the employer;
- pursuant to a request by a law enforcement agency for an employee’s home address and dates of his attendance at work;
- in response to an apparent medical emergency or to apprise the employee’s physician of a medical condition of which the employee may not be aware;
- to comply with federal, state or local laws or regulations; or
- where the information is disseminated pursuant to the terms of a collective bargaining agreement (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-128f).
Are there state rules protecting social media passwords in the employment context and/or on employer monitoring of employee social media accounts?
With limited exceptions, an employer is prohibited from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to:
- provide the employer with a user name, password, or other means to access the employee’s or applicant’s personal online account;
- authenticate or access a personal online account in the presence of the employer; or
- invite or accept an invitation from the employer to join a group affiliated with any personal online account.
Employers are also prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee or applicant who refuses one of the requirements set forth above or who files or causes to be filed a written or verbal complaint with a public or private body or court concerning the employer’s violation (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40x(b)).
This general prohibition does not apply to any account or service that is provided by the employer, and permits the employer to request or require access to any electronic communications device supplied or paid for, in whole or in part, by the employer. The law also does not prohibit an employer from disciplining or discharging an employee for unauthorized misappropriation of the employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data to or from a personal online account (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40x(c)).
Further, the law does not affect an employer’s ability to conduct certain workplace investigations involving an employer’s personal account (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40x(d)).
Bring your own device
What is the latest position in relation to bring your own device?
Connecticut law does not specifically address personal devices.
To what extent can employers regulate off-duty conduct?
There are no laws that specifically permit employers to regulate off-duty conduct. However, there are some laws that specifically prohibit employers from taking any adverse action based on certain off-duty conduct.
For example, employers may not require that any employee or prospective employee refrain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment for smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment. Non-profit organizations or corporations whose primary purpose is to discourage use of tobacco products by the general public are exempt from this law (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-40s).
Employers may not discharge or in any manner discriminate against any employee who is an active volunteer firefighter or member of a volunteer ambulance service or company because such employee is late arriving to work or absent from work as a result of responding to a fire or ambulance call before or during the employee’s regular hours of employment (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 7-32).
Are there state rules protecting gun rights in the employment context?
There are no state laws protecting gun rights in an employment context.
On May 17 2015 the Connecticut Office of Legislative Research issued a research report, which concluded that employers may prohibit an employee with a gun permit from carrying his handgun on the job (Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, Research Report 2005-R-0489, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 29-28(e)).
Trade secrets and restrictive covenants
Who owns IP rights created by employees during the course of their employment?
With the exception of statutes relating to inventions, discoveries and authorship by state employees, no Connecticut statute specifically addresses employer-employee ownership of IP rights (see Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 4-61a, 10a-98 to 10a-98g, 10a-110 to 10a-110g, 22-82a). Courts generally hold that the inventor owns his or her invention in the absence of a contrary agreement. However, where the employee creates a work within the line of his or her particular duties and at the employer’s expense or if the employee occupies a special relationship of trust and confidence to the employer, the employer owns the employee’s work (see Transparent Ruler Co v. C-Thru Ruler Co, 129 Conn. 369 (1942)).
What types of restrictive covenants are recognized and enforceable?
Connecticut courts generally enforce restrictive covenants as long as the restraints are reasonable. Types of restrictive covenants that have been enforced by courts include:
- non-compete agreements;
- customer and employee non-solicitation agreements;
- non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements; and
- similar provisions in agreements for the purchase or sale of a business or its assets.
The determination of whether a restrictive covenant is reasonable is fact-specific and involves the weighing of five factors, any one of which may render a covenant unreasonable:
- the length of time for which the restriction is operative;
- the extent of the geographical area covered;
- the fairness of the protection afforded the employer;
- the extent of the restraint on the employee; and
- the extent of the interference with the public interest (see Robert S. Weiss & Assocs v. Wiederlight, 208 Conn. 525, 529 n2 (1988) and New Haven Tobacco Co, Inc. v. Perrelli, 18 Conn. App 531, 533-34 (1989)).
Time and geographical restrictions are “intertwined considerations”, such that a restriction covering a large area for a brief time might be reasonable, as might a restriction covering a small area for a longer time (see Van Dyck Printing Co v. DiNicola, 43 Conn. Supp. 191 (Conn. Super Ct. 1993)).
A restrictive covenant that precludes the employee from pursuing his or her occupation and thereby from supporting himself or herself and his or her family may be held unenforceable (see Scott v. General Iron & Welding Co, 171 Conn. 132, 137 (1976)).
If the parties have indicated an intent to make the terms of a restrictive covenant severable, the court may strike provisions found to be unreasonable and enforce the covenant as modified (see Gartner Group, Inc. v. Mewes, CV91 0118332 S, 1992 WL 4766 (Conn. Super Ct. Jan 3 1992)).
A restrictive covenant must be supported by consideration, which includes restrictive covenants signed as a condition of employment or signed on a change in the terms and conditions of employment (see Hart, Nininger, Campbell Assocs. v. Rogers, 16 Conn. App. 619 (1988)).
Are there any special rules on non-competes for particular classes of employee?
Connecticut has special rules for:
- security guards;
- broadcast employees; and
Security guards Not enforceable unless the employer can show that the employee obtained trade secrets (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-50a(a)).
Broadcast employees Not enforceable (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-50b(b)(1)).
Physicians Generally, a non-compete agreement for a physician is enforceable only if it is:
- necessary to protect a legitimate business interest;
- reasonably limited in time, geographic scope and practice restrictions as necessary to protect such business interest; and
- otherwise consistent with the law and public policy (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 20-14p(b)(1)).
A covenant not to compete entered into, amended, extended or renewed on or after July 1 2016, may not restrict the physician's competitive activities for a period of more than one year and in a geographic region of more than 15 miles from the primary site where such a physician practices (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 20-14p(b)(2)). “Primary site” is defined by statute (see Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 20-14p(a)(3)).
A covenant not to compete is not enforceable against a physician if:
- the employment contract or agreement expires and is not renewed; or
- the employer terminates the employment or contractual relationship without cause (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 20-14p(b)(2)).
Right to work
Is the state a “right to work” state?
Unions and layoffs
Is the state (or a particular area) known to be heavily unionized?
Connecticut traditionally has had a higher percentage of unionized workers than other states. In 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 17.5% of all Connecticut employees were union members. According to Hirsch and Macpherson, 8.9% of Connecticut private sector workers and 67.1% of public sector workers were unionized in 2016.
Total union membership has increased over the past three years, although private sector membership has decreased in recent years as several traditional manufacturers have left the state. The state has numerous defense industry and other large employers, which have traditionally been heavily organized. The healthcare industry has a significant proportion of unionized workplaces.
What rules apply to layoffs? Are there particular rules for plant closures/mass layoffs?
Connecticut does not have a state law equivalent to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. However, on the closure or relocation of a plant, an employer of 100 or more persons must continue group health insurance coverage for 120 days or until the employee becomes eligible for other group insurance (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51n, 31-51o).
Discipline and termination
Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?
Employers must provide employees with a copy of any documentation of disciplinary action imposed on the employee not more than one business day after the discipline (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-128b(c)).
Employees must be given a notice of their right to respond to any written disciplinary action (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-128e(b)).
At-will or notice
At-will status and/or notice period?
Connecticut is an at-will employment state. Generally, either party has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any point without giving a reason.
What restrictions apply to the above?
Two exceptions to the doctrine of at-will employment include terminations:
- in violation of law or public policy (e.g. based on the employee’s membership in a protected class or participation in protected activity); or
- breach of a contract, if any (express or implied).
Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?
An employee who voluntarily terminates his or her employment must be paid his or her wages in full not later than the next regular pay day, either through the regular payment channels or by mail. An employee who is involuntarily terminated must be paid his or her wages in full not later than the next business day after discharge (Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-71c(a) and (b)).