The Connecticut legislature has been busy in 2021 and 2022. Approximately twelve months ago, it passed legislation effectively legalizing recreational marijuana under Connecticut state law. Very recently, it amended Connecticut’s employee free speech statute to, among other things, prohibit employers from convening what organized labor often refers to as “captive audience meetings” with employees to address unionization efforts. Also, effective January 1, 2022, many employees became eligible for Connecticut Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, and the legislature amended the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) to apply to almost all private sector Connecticut employers.
Several state and local minimum wage rates will increase in the latter half of 2022, with most of these changes effective on July 1, 2022. Increases to minimum wage rates for nonexempt employees and tipped employees in Florida will occur later in the year, on September 30, 2022.
More than a year after oral arguments in Calcano v. Swarovski North America Ltd., No. 20-1552, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed a lower court’s dismissal of five nearly identical lawsuits brought by blind plaintiffs seeking to compel retail defendants to issue gift cards with braille on them.
Recently, the Connecticut General Assembly sent Public Act No. 22-24 (Substitute Senate Bill No. 163), “An Act Protecting Employee Freedom of Speech and Conscience,” to Governor Ned Lamont’s desk for signature. If enacted, the law will amend Connecticut’s employee free speech statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. Section 31-51q, significantly limiting an employer’s ability to speak directly with its employees.
In 2022, while the federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per hour for non-tipped employees and $2.13 per hour for tipped employees, several states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The chart below lists the state (and certain major locality) minimum wage rate increases for 2022—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees.
In a press conference on December 1, 2021, Governor Ned Lamont, along with Connecticut Paid Leave Authority Chief Executive Officer Andrea Barton Reeves, announced that the Connecticut Paid Leave Authority is now accepting applications for Connecticut residents who want to participate in the state’s new paid family and medical leave program.
The Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) recently issued nonbinding guidance on amendments to the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (CTFMLA) that will become effective January 1, 2022. The primary point of the guidance is to clarify the CTDOL’s position on eligible employee leave entitlements, when the leave commenced in 2021 continues into 2022.
The issue of the proper application of the highly compensated employee exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as it applies to employees paid on a “day-rate” basis in the oil and gas industry, has been a hotly debated issue in recent years, especially in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In January of 2019, Connecticut implemented legislation that, among other things, prohibited employers from inquiring about an applicant’s prior salary history. The Nutmeg State took it a step further yesterday, when Governor Ned Lamont signed House Bill No. 6380, titled “An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position.” As the name suggests, the new law requires employers to disclose the “wage range” for vacant positions to employees and prospective employees, under a variety of circumstances.
On June 4, 2021, Governor Ned Lamont signed House Bill No. 5158, modifying Connecticut’s breastfeeding in the workplace law to expand employers’ obligations to provide lactation rooms. The new law requires employers with one or more employees, including the state and any political subdivision of the state, “to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area,” where she can express milk in private.
States have been busy when it comes to marijuana laws. Before the mid-2010s, employers tended not to worry about state marijuana laws because of marijuana’s illegal status under federal law. However, those days are over, and state marijuana legalization laws continue to affect how employers can run their workplaces.
On April 19, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced plans to roll back COVID-19-related restrictions on businesses—although certain mask requirements may remain in effect. The governor intends to lift the restrictions in stages commencing May 1, 2021, through May 19, 2021.
In November 2020, voters in five states (Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota) voted in favor of legalizing medical and/or recreational marijuana. Since then, there have been several developments within the marijuana legalization world that employers may want to keep an eye on as they move forward in 2021.
On March 4, 2021, Governor Ned Lamont signed legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of ethnic traits historically associated with race. The CROWN Act (Bill No. 6515), also known as the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair” Act, amends the definition of race in the state’s anti-discrimination laws to be “inclusive of ethnic traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.”
Employers can expect an active 2021 Connecticut General Assembly since the 2020 legislative session was cut short. (The session lasted a little over a month before it was suspended on March 12, 2020, due to the pandemic and then officially adjourned on May 6, 2020.)
Several states’ minimum wage rates will increase in 2021. The following chart lists the state (and certain major locality) minimum wage increases for 2021—and future years, if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees.
Elections in the United States are scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Not only will the office of president of the United States be contested, but all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate are up for grabs. At the state level, elections will be held for the governorships of 11 U.S. states and 2 U.S. territories.
Connecticut employers need to start their preparations for the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), a law that requires all private employers with Connecticut employees to provide paid leave to eligible employees. The Connecticut Paid Leave (CTPL) program, established by the PFMLA, is set to begin in just a few short months. Until then, there are important dates and key steps that employers may want to review to ensure their workplaces are prepared.
On August 12, 2020, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit limited the scope of a nationwide injunction that had blocked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from implementing and enforcing the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule (commonly called the “public charge rule”) during the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision, which came only days after a series of recent federal court decisions on the controversial rule, restricts the scope of the nationwide injunction to only those states under the jurisdiction of the Second Circuit.
On July 29, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York issued an injunction immediately blocking the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) from enforcing the Trump administration’s new public charge rule during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On July 21, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7III, which made mandatory a previous advisory self-quarantine recommendation for individuals—including employees—traveling from states with high COVID-19 infection rates. While an exemption for essential travelers still applies, there were a number of changes
On April 17, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7BB requiring state residents “who [are] unable to or [do] not maintain a safe social distance of approximately six feet from every other person” in a public place to “cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth face-covering.”
On April 7, 2020, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order No. 7V. It is the governor’s most recent executive order designed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York have all issued statewide shelter-in-place orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more states may follow. Employers that do not qualify for an exemption under the applicable state order or that decide to severely curtail or shut down operations may want to consider some of the following issues.
In a 29-page decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Fisher v. SD Protection Inc., No. 18-2504, that a district court had abused its discretion by rewriting a Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) settlement agreement to modify the allotment of the settlement funds to dramatically reduce the fees and costs provided to plaintiff’s counsel. In its holding, issued on February 4, 2020, the court determined that the district court had committed three errors requiring that its decision be vacated and remanded for further consideration.
In 2020, a number of states’ minimum wage rates will increase. The following chart lists the states’ (and certain major localities’) minimum wage increases for 2020—and future years if available—along with the related changes in the maximum tip credit and minimum cash wage for tipped employees. The federal minimum wage will remain at $7.25 per
On December 6, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held in Yu v. Hasaki Restaurant, Inc., No. 17-3388, that judicial approval is not required to settle Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims via a Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68(a) offer of judgment.