October 1, 2017 Legislative Update

Three acts passed by the Connecticut General Assembly that are relevant to employers went into effect on October 1, 2017:

Public Act No. 17-118:  An Act Concerning Pregnant Women in the Workplace.

This Act amends Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60 in three key ways:  (1) it provided definitions of pregnancy, reasonable accommodation, and undue hardship; (2) it expanded the list of conduct defined as discriminatory; and (3) it created a notice requirement.  The definition of reasonable accommodation includes, but is not limited to:

  • Being permitted to sit while working;
  • More frequent or longer breaks;
  • Periodic rest;
  • Assistance with manual labor;
  • Job restructuring;
  • Light duty assignments;
  • Modified work schedules,
  • Temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work;
  • Time off to recover from childbirth; or
  • Break time and appropriate facilities for expressing breast milk.

 

In addition, the following items were added to the list of discriminatory practices:

  • To limit, segregate or classify the employee in a way that would deprive her of employment opportunities due to her pregnancy;
  • To discriminate against an employee or person seeking employment on the basis of her pregnancy in the terms or conditions of her employment;
  • To fail or refuse to make a reasonable accommodation for an employee or person seeking employment due to her pregnancy, unless the employer can demonstrate that such accommodation would impose an undue hardship on such employer;
  • To deny employment opportunities to an employee or person seeking employment if such denial is due to the employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation due to her pregnancy;
  • To force an employee or person seeking employment affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if such employee or person seeking employment (i) does not have a known limitation related to her pregnancy, or (ii) does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to her employment;
  • To require an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation can be provided in lieu of such leave; and
  • To retaliate against an employee in the terms, conditions or privileges of her employment based upon such employee’s request for a reasonable accommodation.

 

Two points of particular note from the list above: (1) an employer may not force an employee to accept a reasonable accommodation if the employee does not have a known limitation or does not require a reasonable accommodation; (2) an employer may not require an employee to take a leave of absence if a reasonable accommodation could be provided.

Finally, the act requires an employer to provide “written notice of the right to be free from discrimination in relation to pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions, including the right to a reasonable accommodation to the known limitations related to pregnancy” to:  (1) New employees; (2) Existing employees within 180 days of October 1, 2017; and (3) An employee who notifies the employer she is pregnant within 10 days of notification.  Said notice can be displayed as a poster in a conspicuous place accessible to employees that contains the information required in both English and Spanish.  The Connecticut Department of Labor has provided a poster which may be used, available at:

http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/gendocs/SS46a%20Pregnancy%20Disability%20Poster.pdf (English)

https://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/gendocs/SS46a%20Pregnancy%20Disability%20Poster%20spanish.pdf  (Spanish)

The full text of the act is available at:  https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/ACT/PA/2017PA-00118-R00HB-06668-PA.htm.

 

Public Act No. 17-32:  An Act Concerning Human Trafficking.

            This act amended several laws combatting human trafficking and prostitution.  Of importance to employers, the act requires that the following entities post a notice regarding human trafficking:

  • An establishment that provides massage services for a fee;
  • A publicly or privately operated highway service plaza;
  • A hotel, motel, inn or similar lodging;
  • A public airport, as defined in section 15-74a;
  • An acute care hospital emergency room;
  • An urgent care facility;
  • A station offering passenger rail service or passenger bus service;
  • A business that sells or offers for sale materials or promotes performances intended for an adult-only audience;
  • An employment agency, as defined in section 31-129, that offers personnel services to any other operator described in this subdivision; or
  • An establishment that provides services performed by a nail technician, as defined in section 19a-231, and
  • Each person who holds an on-premises consumption permit for the retail sale of alcoholic liquor pursuant to title 30.[1]

 

The notice is to be posted “in plain view in a conspicuous location where labor and services are provided or performed, tickets are sold and other transactions, including sales, are to be carried on.”  The act added a fine of $100.00 for the first failure to post the notice and $250.00 for any subsequent offense, in addition to any proceedings for suspension or revocation of a license, permit, or certificate.

The notice is available at:  https://www.jud.ct.gov/Publications/Human_trafficking_poster.pdf.

The full text of the act is available at:  https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/ACT/PA/2017PA-00032-R00HB-07309-PA.htm.

Public Act No. 17-141:  An Act Concerning The Provision Of Notice Of A Claim For Compensation By An Employee To An Employer Or A Workers’ Compensation Commissioner.

This Act made a useful change to the notice requirements for workers’ compensation claims.  It permits an employer to post a notice in the workplace containing an address where a claim for compensation shall be sent.  The employer must then forward the address to the Workers’ Compensation Commission for posting on its web site.  If the employer does both of these, the twenty-eight day period during which the employer may file a notice that it contests the claim begins on the date the employer receives the written notice at the posted address.

The full text of the act is available at:  https://www.cga.ct.gov/2017/ACT/PA/2017PA-00141-R00HB-07132-PA.htm.

[1] The act does not apply to “any person who holds an on-premises consumption permit for the retail sale of alcoholic liquor pursuant to title 30 that consists of only one or more of the following: (1) A caterer, boat, military, charitable organization, special club, temporary liquor or temporary beer permit, or (2) a manufacturer permit for a farm winery, a manufacturer permit for beer, manufacturer permits for beer and brew pubs, or any other manufacturer permit issued under title 30.”