Connecticut Legislative Update

There are a number of bills being considered by the Connecticut General Assembly which, if passed, will have a big impact upon the workplace. These include:

Bill No. 5283, An Act Concerning Expansion of Family and Medical Leave.

This bill, which applies only to Connecticut’s FMLA Act, (“CFMLA”), for private sector workers, would expand Conn. Gen. Stat. §31-51ll concerning the definition of those individuals for which an employee could take a total of sixteen weeks of unpaid leave during any twenty- four month period for this leave. The language of the bill expands the entitlement from “spouse, son, daughter, parent” to include “parent-in-law, sibling, grandparent or grandchild.”

The CFMLA does not apply to the state, a municipality, a local or regional board of education, or a private or parochial school.

Bill No. 317, An Act Concerning Employee Privacy.

This new bill incorporates privacy protections with an individual’s social media accounts in the employment arena. It covers all “employers,” including the state and municipalities, except municipal law enforcement agencies conducting preemployment investigations or review of law enforcement personnel.

Basically, it prohibits employers from requesting or requiring an employee or applicant for employment to provide the employer with a user name or password for accessing a personal online account. It prohibits retaliation from refusing to provide such access.

However, this protection does not extend to an employee’s or applicant’s unauthorized transferal of an employer’s proprietary or confidential information to such personal online accounts or an employer’s investigation of employee “misconduct based on the receipt of specific information about activity on an employee or applicant’s personal online account.”

WHAT EXACTLY DOES THAT MEAN? Also, this bill conflicts with recent National Labor Relations Board decisions finding employee social media criticisms of employers to be “protected, concerted activity.”

Another deficiency: there is no provision for a private right of action to file a case in court. An employee/applicant must file a complaint with the Connecticut Commissioner of Labor.

Bill No. 263, An Act Concerning the Extension of Whistle-Blower Protections To An Employee Who Reports A Suspected Violation Of Law To The Employee’s Supervisor Or Manager.

This bill provides much-needed improvements to Connecticut’s Whistle-Blower Law, Conn. Gen. Stat. §31-51m, a statute that the Busca Law Firm is prosecuting in Connecticut’s federal district court at the present time.

This bill would extend protections to employees who report, orally or in writing, to their “supervisors” or “managers” violations or suspected violations of any state or federal law or regulation or municipal ordinance or regulation. Current law only extends to such employee reports to a “public body.”

Additionally, it extends the statute of limitations for filing a claim in court from ninety days to one hundred eighty days.

Further, it adds “non-economic,” or emotional distress, damages, “future economic damages” and the removal of any discipline imposed as additional remedies that can be obtained.


United States v. Quality Stores, Inc., 2014 U.S. LEXIS 2213, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-1408, Decided: March 25, 2014.

This recent case establishes that severance payments are “taxable wages” under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act, (“FICA”)

O’Toole v. Eyelets for Industry, Inc., 148 Conn. App. 367 (2014).

In this first-impression case, decided February 25, 2014, the Connecticut Appellate Court reversed the trial court and held that state courts have concurrent jurisdiction with federal courts to hear and decide cases involving wrongful termination under the federal Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, 38 U.S.C. §4301 et seq.

Natalia Sidorova v. East Lyme Board of Education,et al, Sup. Ct., Judicial District of New London, No. CV-10-6004811, Jan. 21, 2014, Devine, J.

This case emphasizes that labor law is a specialty in the practice of law.

The Court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment, or a dismissal, of the case.

The plaintiff, Sidorova, was a union member employed by the East Lyme Board of Education who was terminated by layoff.

The Court granted summary judgment on the plaintiff’s breach of contract claim(s) based upon the collective bargaining agreement, holding that individual union members lack standing to sue to enforce the collective bargaining agreement absent the union’s failure in its duty of fair representation to its members. Here, the plaintiff failed to allege the union breached its duty of fair representation. However, even if she had, that breach of contract claim would be susceptible to a motion to dismiss for failure to exhaust administrative remedies before the Connecticut State Board of Labor Relations.

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