May, 2015

A Connecticut Appellate Court case released March 31, 2015, answered a case of first impression as to the definition of “employee” for coverage under Connecticut’s anti-discrimination statute, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, (“CFEPA”). Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities v. Echo Hose Ambulance et al., 156 Conn. App. 239 (2015).

On June 9, 2011, Sarah Puryear, an African-American female, filed a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, (“CHRO”), alleging race and color discrimination by Echo Hose Ambulance, (“Echo Hose”) and the city of Shelton, Connecticut. Puryear was interviewed by Echo Hose and was accepted into the “precepting program” at Echo. Although the court notes that the record did not contain much explanation of the nature of this “precepting” program, the inference develops that it was a form of internship or probationary program for Puryear.

At the CHRO, the hearing referee granted the city’s motion to strike the complaint that she was not an employee either of Echo Hose or the city. The referee concluded that Puryear failed to allege sufficient facts to support the existence of an employment relationship between the parties because she did not claim that she received any direct or indirect remuneration for her services at Echo Hose. On appeal, the trial court affirmed the referee’s decision.

At the Appellate Court, Puryear argued that the referee and the trial court should have adopted the common-law “right of control” test for determining whether she was an “employee” under CFEPA. But the Court stated that test is generally applied to distinguish between “employees” and “independent contractors.”

Instead, the Appellate Court looked to federal law in Title VII cases for guidance and concluded that the Second Circuit’s remuneration test was the appropriate standard. This test requires that an individual receive direct or indirect remuneration from an employer. In the absence of a salary, substantial job-related benefits, such as health insurance, vacation, sick pay, a disability pension, survivors’ benefits, group life insurance, scholarships for dependents upon death or other “indirect but significant remuneration.” It is not clear what combination of benefits, in lieu of salary, would satisfy this test.

Because Puryear could not satisfy this “remuneration” test used by the federal courts, the Court affirmed the trial court’s dismissal of her case.

I am...

Select the appropriate icon above for more information.

The Top 5 Things You Should Know
As An Employee
Enter your Name and Email to receive
"The Top 5 Things You Should Know As An Employee"
The Top 5 Things You Should Know
As An Employer
Enter your Name and Email to receive
"The Top 5 Things You Should Know As An Employer"
The Top 5 Things You Should Know
As A Union
Enter your Name and Email to receive
"The Top 5 things You Should Know As A Union"