State High Court Hears Two Employment Cases
The Connecticut Supreme Court recently heard arguments in two employment law cases: one asking the Court to consider whether a hostile work environment claim can be filed under state law; the other, whether employers need to count out-of-state employees for purposes of the state Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
In the harassment case, the plaintiff employee claimed that his co-workers constantly called him derogatory homosexual names, and his employer did nothing to protect him from the hostile work environment. The employee sued under the state fair employment law; the employer argued that the state law does not specifically allow hostile work environment claims. But the court disagreed, deciding that the law’s guarantee of non-discrimination in the “terms, conditions, or privileges” of employment was broad enough to encompass protection from a hostile work environment. The employer is now asking the high court to review that interpretation.
In the FMLA case, the employee filed a complaint with the state Labor Department claiming that her employer discharged her in violation of the state FMLA. The department dismissed the complaint, saying the company was not subject to the state FMLA because it did not have 75 or more employees in Connecticut , although it had more than a thousand nationwide. The employee appealed to the superior court, which refused to defer to the labor department’s position, and instead ruled that out-of-state employees should be counted. The employer and the labor department have both appealed the counting issue.
Decisions in the two cases are expected later in the year.
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