Employment Discrimination Changes Stripped from Bill
House lawmakers removed controversial language making significant changes to Connecticut’s employment discrimination statute from a broader bill.
Section 11 of SB 5 originally repealed Connecticut’s current employment discrimination law and replaced it with new language proposed to take effect Oct. 1, 2022.
The section changed the definition of “employer,” added a new category to the list of protected classes, changed the definition of “sexual harassment,” and shifted the burden of proof in hostile work environment cases to employers.
Most significantly, the bill changed how hostile environment cases are litigated and proven.
As originally drafted, the bill also significantly limited the terms an employer may include in employment discrimination settlement agreements, essentially rendering them worthless.
These proposed settlement agreement restrictions would discourage employers from settling discrimination suits.
The settlement agreement language was removed from the bill before the state Senate approved it April 27.
House lawmakers then amended SB 5 following objections raised by CBIA and other employer groups that it reversed decades-long precedent at both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Connecticut Supreme Court.
The Senate approved the House amendments, although the bill retained the changes to the definition of “employer” to include any person with just one employee, rather than three or more.
CBIA successfully advocated against a number of other problematic measures during this year’s legislative session, including:
- SB 426 expanded the attorney general’s fraud and abuse authority beyond its current limited scope of healthcare fraud and abuse. Under this proposal, the attorney general would have blanket authority to track down fraud and abuse for any state dollars, by any state agency or state contracting authority. If passed, the bill would dissuade companies from bidding or competing for state work.
- SB 189 included a requirement for any business that provides qualified services to provide a written price list for those services. This requirement would have been unworkable for some industries (i.e. healthcare) and cost-prohibitive for others. This proposal was all encompassing and applied to all healthcare providers, attorneys, and every other consumer related service provider.
Connecticut businesses will face new consumer data privacy protection standards and compliance requirements.
SB 6 establishes a framework for controlling and processing of personal data, implementing responsibilities and privacy protection standards for data controllers and processors.
Passage of the bill followed years of negotiation following years of negotiation with the business community.
CBIA also successfully advocated against a series of costly proposed workers’ compensation measures:
- SB 222 required employers or insurers acting on behalf of employers to provide notice and get approval before discontinuing coverage for prescription medications. The notice must have informed the employee that a request for a hearing must be made no later than 15 days after the receipt of the notice, or it will be approved automatically. The proposal added a peer review analysis, a new attorney fee award payable by employer or carrier, and increased the burden on administrative law judges.
- SB 321 extended workers’ compensation coverage for post-traumatic stress injuries to all employees.
- HB 5251 granted emergency dispatchers portal-to-portal workers compensation coverage.
For more information, contact CBIA’s John Blair (860.244.1921).
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