Business Law: Several Negative Bills Blocked
CBIA and allies successfully blocked business law-related legislation in the 2019 legislative session that negatively impacted Connecticut employers.
Among the bills CBIA opposed that failed to make it through the legislative process:
Disclosure of sexual assault, harassment. CBIA expressed concerns with SB 761 because of vague language that left an employer to determine whether sexual assault or harassment occurred.
In addition, the bill’s original language regarding prohibition of nondisclosure terms presented a problem for employers who settle claims with employees through confidentiality clauses.
The bill, requiring disclosure of sexual assault and harassment allegations when a positive employment reference is given, was amended in the Senate to say that an employee must disclose only sexual assaults or harassment incidents of which they have “actual knowledge.”
The definition of actual knowledge was vague and forced the person giving the recommendation to determine the status of the lawsuit or charge, which they might not know.
Marijuana in the workplace. SB 1089 said no employer would have to accommodate marijuana in the workplace should legalization of marijuana occur.
It died on the Senate calendar and the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana also died.
Debt collection restrictions. HB 6994 restricted a creditor’s right to collect overdue debt unduly burdening legitimate and last resort collection efforts and adding to a long list of state and federal exemptions.
Attorney general’s authority. As originally drafted, HB 7222, Attorney General William Tong’s civil rights bill conferred broad authority on the office with respect to alleged violations of state and federal constitutional rights.
Originally, the attorney general would have overly broad powers to investigate any federal or state law viewed as establishing any right.
And the attorney general could intrude into areas already overseen by regulatory agencies, even those regularly resolved through private litigation, and allow imposition of a civil penalty without any prior notice or regard to whether the violation was intentional.
The bill was amended to cut the penalty to $2,500 for each hate crime or civil rights violation that is established by clear and convincing evidence, down from the original $10,000.
It also prohibits the attorney general from bringing action concurrent with a case before the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity that involves the same parties and alleged facts and circumstances.
The amended bill also establishes a standard of proof for violations, and removes provisions that would allow the court to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, unlike the original bill. This bill died in the Senate.
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