June, 2017


Employment laws and regulations are enacted and revised frequently.  New case law, social issues and technological improvements and changes are just some of the forces that impact  workplace policies and procedures.  Yet, employers seem to fail to review their handbooks for compliance.

A few of the important employment developments which have occurred in the last few years are as follows:

1. The National Labor Relations Board.

Many employers do not understand that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) applies to both unionized and non-unionized workforces.  A non-union employer can be found in violation of the NLRA for conduct which violated the “protected concerted” activities of its employees.

NLRB cases have found that such employers violate the act by discharging employees that criticize their employer about terms and conditions of employment.  Other non-union employer conduct found in violation of the act involves disciplining/discharging employees for critical statements about their employer on social media.  Another employer was found in violation of the act by requiring confidentiality in internal investigations.  Clauses in handbooks prohibiting such employee conduct figured prominently in such cases.

2.  Reporting Violations.

Handbook provisions should not discourage employees from reporting potential legal violations to government agencies, such as OSHA or the EEOC.

3. Background Checks.

Many local governments now have ban-the-box laws that prohibit asking criminal background questions in employment applications.

Connecticut has such a law, Public Act No. 16-83, which prohibits covered employers from inquiring about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an internal employment application.

4. Drug Testing Rules.

The legalization of marijuana in many states poses another issue for review of employee handbooks, both in its medical use and its recreational use in those states where it has been approved.  Connecticut has approved this drug for medicinal uses and is currently debating legalization for recreational use.

5. Paid Sick Leave Laws.

The number of paid-sick-leave laws at the state and local level is increasing all the time.

Connecticut requires most employers that employ 50 or more individuals in the state in certain occupations to provide paid sick leave accruing at a rate of one hour per 40 hours worked.


Given the ever-changing landscape of employment law, it’s important for businesses to invest in the update of their employee handbooks to be compliant with both state and federal law.


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