A proposal in the state House of Representatives aims to take an important legal protection—and court-confirmed right—away from Connecticut employers.
HB 6667 impacts private-sector businesses that discipline their employees for harmful things they may say on the job, even if those things are said in front of customers or other employees.
The proposal overturns one of two recent decisions by the Connecticut Supreme Court—similar to a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision—that confirm the right of employers to discipline their employees if they say inappropriate things while working.
While the high court rulings apply to all types of employers, HB 6667 curiously takes the protection away only from private sector businesses, not the public sector (state and local government).
Several workplace experts have said that, if adopted, HB 6667 is likely to create significant disruptions in the workplace with potentially numerous lawsuits between employees and managers.
And that, of course, is precisely why the state’s trial bar is seeking this proposal.
Employers could potentially be forced to deal with a flood of “he said, she said” litigation – interrupting their ability to focus on their business activities.
It is for these very reasons that the U.S. Supreme Court said, “Government employers, like private employers, need a significant degree of control over their employee’s words and actions. Without it, there would be little change for the efficient provision of services.”
In other words, employers need the ability to monitor employees’ speech--but only while the employee is on the job. At work, harmful speech made by the employee can be attributed to, and blamed on, the employer.
Another claim of proponents is that the bill is needed to provide protection to whistleblowers. But employees who engage in acts of whistle-blowing are already adequately protected under Connecticut law.
What’s more, in additional to protections in the law, any private sector employee who is fired for reporting on the illegal or harmful actions of an employer can bring an action for “wrongful termination in violation of public policy.”
But if HB 6667 is necessary to protect whistleblowers, why have they cut out government-sector employees from the bill?
CBIA urges lawmakers to understand employers’ very real need to protect themselves from their own employees’ speech made in the workplace.
For more information, contact CBIA’s Eric Gjede at 860.244.1931 or email@example.com.