ICYMI: Connecticut Employment Law Changes

HR & Safety

Not only do Connecticut employers need to know about the significant changes in the employment law landscape following the 2019 state legislative session, but several other developments which occurred during the past year are presented below to serve as a refresher course.

Salary History

It is now unlawful in Connecticut:

  • To ask applicants about their wage or salary histories;
  • To engage any third-party (such as a background check agency) to ask about a job candidate’s prior pay.

Connecticut employers may:

  • Ask an applicant what their desired wage/salary is;
  • Inform an applicant about what the wage/salary range may be for the position and ask if the applicant remains interested;
  • Verify salary information from prior employers only if that information was voluntarily disclosed by an applicant (without any request to do so by the employer);
  • Inquire about the structure of an applicant’s prior compensation package (i.e., whether the prior compensation included commissions, bonuses, stock options, retirement benefits, etc.) but not about the value or amount of those components.

Pregnancy Accommodation

It is now unlawful in Connecticut:

  • 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 (NOTE: reasonable accommodation means, “but shall not be 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.”);
  • 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;
  • To single out pregnancy-related conditions for special procedures to determine an employee’s ability to work; 
  • To treat a pregnant employee differently than any other temporarily disabled employee (i.e., if the employer allows temporarily disabled employees to modify tasks, perform alternative assignments, or take disability leave or leave without pay, the employer also must allow an employee who is temporarily disabled because of pregnancy to do the same);
  • To not allow pregnant employees to work as long as they are able to perform their jobs (NOTE: An employer also may not have a rule that prohibits an employee from returning to work for a predetermined length of time after childbirth.).

Connecticut employers are now further required:

  • To provide a “Notice of Pregnancy Rights” to all new hires upon hire (should be posted in workplace and could be included in employee handbook as a policy);
  • To provide the “Notice of Pregnancy Rights” to any existing employee within 10 days after she notifies the employer of her pregnancy or conditions related to her pregnancy (or the employer otherwise becomes aware of pregnancy).

Criminal History Questions and Background Checks

  • Employers in Connecticut are prohibited from asking applicants about their criminal history on an application or from obtaining criminal history report prior to an interview. Employers can still obtain criminal information after the first interview and before hire.
  • It remains best practice to require applicants to undergo a criminal background check for convictions after the first interview. However, rejecting an applicant based on criminal history requires individualized assessment of: (i) the nature and gravity of the offense or conduct; (ii) the time that has passed since the offense, conduct, and/or completion of the sentence; and (iii) the nature of the job held or sought.

Credit Checks

  • Except for certain circumstances, Connecticut employers are prevented from requiring an applicant or employee to consent to a request for a credit report as a condition of employment and from using credit scores in making hiring or employment decisions. A credit report is something that contains information about the credit score, credit account balances, payment history, or savings or checking account numbers or balances of the applicant or employee. 
  • This prohibition does not apply when: (a) the employer is a financial institution (i.e., bank, savings and loan association, credit union, insurance company, investment advisor or broker-dealer); or (b) when the report is required by law; or (c) when the employer “reasonably” believes the employee engaged in any activity that constitutes a violation of the law related to his/her employment; or (d) when the report is “substantially” related to the applicant or employee’s current or potential job or when the employer has a bona fide purpose for requesting or using the information in the credit report that is substantially job-related and is disclosed in writing to the employee or applicant. 
  • As to the last exception, a credit report is considered “substantially related” to the individual’s prospective or current job when the position: (i) is a managerial job which involves the direction or control of a business, division, unit or agency of a business; or (ii) involves access to customer or employee personal or financial information (other than information customarily provided in a retail transaction; or (iii) involves a fiduciary relationship to the employer (including having the authority to issue payments, collect debts, transfer money or enter into contracts; or (iv) provides an expense account or corporate debit/credit card; or (v) provides access to confidential or proprietary business information or trade secrets (which are the subject or efforts that are reasonable under the circumstances to maintain its secrecy; or (vi) involves access to an employer’s nonfinancial assets valued at $2,005 or more.

NOTE: As of September 2018, employers are required to use a new version of the Summary of Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act Notice (updated to include a section on security freezes) to send to any applicant (or employee) prior to taking any adverse action based on results of any background check.

About the author: Kenneth Weinstock is a partner at the labor and employment law firm Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Hartford.


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