Non-Competes, Expanded Sick Days, and Union Avoidance Meetings All Targeted in Proposed Bills
Keep an eye on the bills recently introduced so far this session by the Labor and Public Employees Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly. If passed, these bills will have a significant impact on Connecticut employers. The legislative session began on February 2, 2022 and adjourns on May 4, 2022. Among the bills being proposed this session are:
SB-312 - The Expansion of Connecticut Paid Sick Days. The bill would expand Connecticut’s Paid Sick Day law to cover all Connecticut employees. Currently, the law only applies to employers with 50 or more employees and requires employers to pay for sick days only to hourly, non-exempt “service workers.” The bill would cover employers of any size and extend coverage to exempt employees. The bill would also expand the definition of family member to align with Connecticut FMLA’s definition, which includes grandparents, grandchildren, in-laws, etc.
SB-318 - Captive Audience Meetings. The bill would prohibit an employer from disciplining or discharging an employee for “refusing to attend an employer-sponsored meeting with the employer or its agent where the primary purpose is to communicate the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters, or listen to speech or view communications, the primary purpose of which is to communicate the employer’s opinion concerning religious or political matters.”
HB-5249 - Non-Compete Agreements. Many states are limiting the use of non-competes. This bill would prohibit non-competition agreements by employers or contractors unless:
· The non-compete is for a period of not more than one year following the termination or separation of the worker;
· The worker is an exempt employee earning no less than three times the minimum wage;
· The agreement is provided to the worker not later than ten business days prior to the worker's deadline to accept an offer from the employer or the date such covenant is signed, whichever is earlier;
· The agreement contains a statement of the worker's rights regarding covenants not to compete, including the following: (A) Not all covenants not to compete are enforceable; (B) covenants not to compete for workers earning less than the amount provided in subsection (b) of this section are illegal; (C) the worker may contact the Attorney General if the worker is subject to an illegal covenant not to compete; and (D) the worker has the right to consult with counsel prior to signing the covenant not to compete;
· The agreement is signed by the worker and the employer separately from any other agreement underlying the relationship between the worker and the employer or contractor;
· The employment or contractual relationship was not terminated by the worker for good cause attributable to the employer or contractor;
HB-5245 - Forced Arbitration Agreements. The bill would allow employees to sue employers on behalf of the state after waiving their personal rights to sue by signing forced arbitration agreements.
This is an important bill; some explanation is warranted here. The bill would permit whistleblowers to enforce fines for violations of labor and discrimination laws against employers in court. In return, the whistleblower would receive a portion of any civil penalty awarded against the employer.
SB-314 - Protection of Warehouse Workers. Warehouse employers would be required to “provide each employee a written description of each quota the employee is subject to within a defined time period and any potential employment action that may result from a failure to meet such quota.”
SB-317 - Unemployment for Striking Workers. The bill would allow employees on strike to collect unemployment compensation.
The Labor and Public Employees Committee will be holding a public hearing tomorrow on a number of these bills. We will update you on the progress of these bills as they advance through the legislature.