Double Trouble for Businesses?
A proposal in the Labor Committee creates double trouble for Connecticut businesses.
Not only does SB 106 make an employer guilty-until you-prove-yourself-innocent in workplace complaints involving immigrant employees, it also contains a few additional sections rendering courts powerless to award anything less than double wages plus overtime wages in civil actions over pay disputes.
The bill purports to protect immigrants, but it has several major flaws—not least among them, the fact that it’s preempted by federal law.
The federal Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 controls all aspects of immigration employment–especially enforcement. That’s why Arizona’s attempt to unilaterally enforce certain immigration laws was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012.
Second, SB 106 assumes a business is guilty of retaliating against an immigrant employee until the employer proves itself innocent.
Fines, losses of licenses, and other penalties would be levied on any employer taking an immigration-related action within 90 days against an employee who has made a workplace complaint.
Innocent businesses would have to expend considerable financial resources and effort to defend against meritless claims.
Finally, SB 106 is redundant because of employee retaliation protection laws that are already on the books in Connecticut.
Nearly every chapter of Connecticut’s labor and employment law already contains provisions protecting employees from employer retaliation.
For example, one section protects all employees who make complaints related to the wages owed to them by employers, and another protects all employees who make complaints related to safety and health in the workplace.
SB 106 also takes away a judge’s discretion to award less than double damages in a civil action to collect unpaid regular and overtime wages.
What is gained by mandating double damages when a judge already has the power to impose the penalty on truly bad-acting employers?
Could the answer be that it is to make the penalty so harsh that employers would be forced to settle wage disputes every time, even when the employer believes they did nothing wrong?
If the business doesn’t cut its losses and settle, even when in the right, the only other option is to undergo the expense of defending themselves through costly litigation. In other words, even when the employer is right, they lose.
Connecticut businesses should closely monitor the progress of this bill.
Despite the way the bill runs afoul of federal restrictions, it mirrors a similar proposal that made it out of the Senate last year and is likely to move forward again this year.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 | email@example.com | @egjede
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.