Pumpkin - Morgue FileOctober.  Here in New England, it brings to mind pumpkins.  Besides being carved up (made into pumpkin pie), pumpkins also hold a place in story lore — you’ll recall from Cinderella that a pumpkin could be magically transformed into a beautiful carriage (which of course, you can buy on Amazon.) 

In Connecticut, October also brings about new laws, which go into effect on this date.  Which laws will blossom into beautiful carriages, with meaning and true purpose, and which ones will remain pumpkins?  It remains to be seen.  But here are some of my early contenders on the employment side of things:

Carriages (Laws that should run smoothly — relatively easy to interpret, apply and understand):

  • The laws regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and civil union status have been evolving this year.  Before this year, Connecticut just prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  In July 2007, Connecticut prohibited employment discrimination based on a person’s civil union status.  Now, effective today, however, the laws are broadened even further on sexual orientation grounds. 

It will now be "discriminatory practice for any person to subject any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities secured by the Constitution or laws of this state on account of sexual orientation."  This is clear and gives some greater consistency to the application of sexual orientation discrimination laws in the state.  A full background on these new laws is discussed during an earlier post. 

Pumpkins (Laws with limited application or may lead to unintended consequences):

  • A new law prohibiting the use of non-compete agreements, in some circumstances, for security guards.  I’ve discussed this new law’s background at length previously, but suffice to say that its an inartfully drafted statute.  At its core, the new law prohibits employers from requiring security officers to "enter into an agreement prohibiting such person from engaging in the same or a similar job, at the same location at which the employer employs such person, for another employer or as a self-employed person". (If the employer can "prove" that the employee received trade secrets, then a non-compete can be used.)
  • Incidentally, this same new law also prohibits the use of non-compete agreements for broadcast employees (also known as television anchors).  Jonathan O’Connell, of the Hartford Business Journal, had this to say about the case over the summer and recalled the influence that WFSB Channel 3 anchor Al Terzi had on its passage. 

One can argue about whether non-compete agreements are a useful tool for business or harm an employee’s right to work; when the legislature carves out exceptions for certain industries however, it passes up on the opportunity to set real boundaries for restrictive covenants. Instead, this statute would appear to affect just a handful of employees every year, if even that.

(Speaking of deadlines and new laws, yesterday was the deadline for filing new updated EEO-1 forms to comply with federal laws. The guidance from the DOL is publicly available.  Employers that haven’t yet submitted the information should do so ASAP.)