Legislative Update 2023
Here are brief descriptions of new laws that come into effect in Connecticut in 2023:
1. Clean Slate Law: this is a law that permits individuals convicted of certain crimes to have those convictions erased. What are the implications for employers? If an employer asks about an employment applicant’s criminal history, then it must provide a notice in compliance with the Clean Slate Law that states in sum and substance that erased convictions need not be disclosed by the applicant. Further, if an employer does a background check on an applicant and observes that the applicant did not disclose an erased criminal record that fact cannot be used against the applicant. With respect to that background check that indicates an erased criminal record, employers need to make sure that the erased criminal record does not get passed along to hiring managers who might otherwise be viewed as discriminating if they do not select the individual with the erased criminal record. Obviously, this is an area of hiring replete with traps for the unwary. Employers: confer with an attorney to put your application forms in order. Prospective employees with erased criminal records: be on the alert for violations of this law.
2. The minimum wage will increase to $15 per hour on June 1, 2023. See https://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/lmi/ctminimumwage.asp.
3. The so-called “Captive Audience” Statute: this is a law that prevents employers from requiring employees to attend a meeting that is “primarily intended” to convey the employer’s opinion about “religious or political matters.” Advocates for employers are vowing to challenge this law but for now it is the law and employers should be aware of the limitations that the “Captive Audience” law now places upon workplace meetings.
4. Pregnant Workers Fairness Act: in late June, 2023, pregnant women will have further protections under federal law. Under the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, employers must provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant women, unless doing so would create an undue hardship. They must also engage in an interactive process with respect to a request for reasonable accommodation because of pregnancy. Finally, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act prohibits employers from requiring pregnant employees to take a leave if there is another accommodation available. Note that Connecticut already has provisions that are substantially similar to this Act.
5. Nursing Mothers Act (or PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act): under this federal law, employers must provide a reasonable break time for an employee to express milk and private place to do so, unless the employer has under 50 employees. Note that Connecticut already has provisions that are substantially similar to this Act.
6. Additional Protected Category Under Connecticut Anti-Discrimination law: as of 2023, victims of domestic abuse are officially protected under relevant Connecticut anti-discrimination provisions. For employers, the law means that they have to make employees aware through postings and notices that if they are victims of domestic abuse, they must be provided with leaves of absence to seek treatment, relocate or obtain other services.
7. Employers in the Purple Haze: now that marijuana is available for legal consumption for Connecticut adults, employers must tread with care when it comes to off-duty marijuana use. If employers subject their employees to random drug tests and an employee comes back with a positive test for marijuana then the employer can take action against that employee only if it has a written policy prohibiting marijuana use outside of the workplace. Note that employers must be very careful in designing a written policy about marijuana use outside of the workplace to take into account those employees who use it for a medical condition. Prohibiting marijuana use outside of work hours with respect to those with a medical condition might run afoul of the Palliative Use of Marijuana Act (PUMA) and/or the American Disabilities Act (ADA). An employer may act against an employee who is impaired by drug use while at work whether they have a medical card for marijuana use or not.
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