Following President Obama’s signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act earlier this year, the General Assembly has approved revisions to Connecticut’s wage discrimination laws that increase protections for employees and penalties for employers.

Named after the Alabama plaintiff in a 2007 Supreme Court case, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act relaxes the statute of limitations for bringing a complaint, making it harder for employers to anticipate and resolve pay discrimination cases. Under the federal law, for example, an employee who alleges wage discrimination—which can include the receipt of any lower paycheck—can file a complaint up to 180 days after the alleged discrimination.

Connecticut’s HB-6185, which has been approved by both the Senate and House, significantly lengthens this timeframe to as long as three years after the alleged violation. The filing deadline for claims would be reset with each new paycheck.

The measure also increases penalties on employers by allowing courts to award back pay (the difference in the employee’s pay and the top wage paid to other employees who perform equal work). Compensatory and punitive damages may be awarded as well, if the violation is found to be intentional.

HB-6185 expands whistleblower protections and raises the penalties for violations of those protections. The measure also will allow an employee or group of employees to bring a civil action without first going to the state labor commissioner.

If signed by Gov. Rell, the law will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2009. For more information, contact CBIA’s Kia Murrell at 860-244-1931 or kia.murrell@cbia.com.