In years past, I’ve looked at my crystal ball, I’ve read the tea leaves and I’ve even examined my Magic 8-Ball sitting in my office. (You never know when you need one.)
I’m out of prediction-making tools.
And indeed, since I started doing this, there are now national lawfirms that are offering up their predictions on employment laws. And everyone is pretty much saying the saying thing nationally:
More focus on sexual harassment claims; more on pay equity; big changes at the NLRB; more on LGBT employment law protections and still more wage/hour lawsuits.
I’ll make it easy: I agree.
But what’s missing is a look at the local perspective for Connecticut employers. So here are some fearless predictions for 2018 applicable to employers in Connecticut.
- It’s (still) the economy, stupid. Where’s the recovery? As it turns out, Connecticut’s economy and budget are both in a bit of a mess. Unemployment has crept back up of late and the General Assembly looks to be coming back to deal with a growing budget deficit. Are we in a recession?There’s no end in sight for this mess for 2018; that said, is the federal tax cut going to trigger some activity?I’m guessing not. I think layoffs and more use of independent contractors may carry the day here. And with that, will we see more lawsuits and more charges of discrimination? Let’s check back in a year.
- Count on an interesting Connecticut Supreme Court case or two. Each year, the Connecticut Supreme Court releases an employment law decision or two. Some are important to employers; several others are only notable for employment lawyers.This year, there’s one or two cases pending that may be both. Keep an eye out for MacDermid Inc. v. Leonetti, which was argued in November 2017. In that case, an employee signed a separation agreement which included a release of a pending workers’ compensation claim for $70,000 or so. But the employee pursued the workers compensation claim and the Commission (and the Connecticut Supreme Court) found that the agreement didn’t bar the claim. The employer then sought return of the severance and a jury agreed. Now the employee appeals. My guess: A close call but comparable federal “tender back” rules suggest employee may not need to return the severance for an invalid release. That said, I’m hedging a bit because the case is complicated with lots of briefing so don’t be surprised if a limited exception for the employer here is found. (I’ll have more on this case in an upcoming post.)And there’s a decision expected in whether religious institutions have immunity from employment discrimination suits under Connecticut law. Stay tuned.
- Less action from the General Assembly than you might think. It’s an election year for Governor. Moreover, the Senate is evenly split. And if you following polling, the Democrats in the state seem to have some vulnerability. All that adds up to a legislature that may be less active than you might think.That said, there’s likely to be a discussion about the use of confidentiality provisions in settlements of sexual harassment claims. And more attacks on the use of non-compete agreements. But like the pregnancy discrimination law that was passed in 2017, expect a compromise that makes any proposal much more palatable to business interests.
So, there you have it. Three fearless predictions in Connecticut employment law.
In the meantime, I need another cup of coffee this morning. Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2018.