As the dust continues to settle from the General Assembly, bills that didn’t get a lot of press beforehand are continuing to come into the light.

One of them is new Public Act 19-95, which was just signed by Governor Lamont yesterday.

The bill treats being a member of the “Civil Air Patrol” as a new protected class and prohibits an employer from discriminating against an employee because the employee is absent from work responding to some emergencies or training as a civil air patrol member.

And how is the Civil Air Patrol defined? It’s defined as the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.  There are approximately 61,000 youth and adult members of the CAP nationwide, according to the most recent statistics, though 26,000 of them are cadet members between the ages of 12 and 20.

But before employers start to wonder if they have a lot of employees working for them in the Civil Air Patrol – the answer is probably not.  In Connecticut, only 365 people are listed as being senior members of the CAP.

Nevertheless, the legislative recap of the bill spells out the three main areas it covers. It:

  1. establishes specific notice and verification requirements for employees who are civil patrol members;
  2. specifies that its provisions must not be construed to prohibit an employer from (a) treating the employee’s absence as unpaid time off or (b) complying with a collective bargaining agreement or employee benefit plan entered into before October 1, 2019; and
  3. specifically allows an aggrieved employee to sue to recover damages and equitable relief in the Superior Court.

There are also a few state specific provisions that will apply to state employees only including the provision of sick leave.  You can download the whole bill here.

Regardless, all employees have until October 31, 2019, the date of employment, or the date on which the employee joins the civil air patrol (whichever is later) to notify the employer that he or she may be called to participate in training or assist in an emergency.

This bill will only affect a very small segment of the population; but given that an employee can sue for a violation of this law, employers would be wise to consider whether it has any employees that might fall within its purview.  And as always, contacting your employment law attorney about this would always be a good idea as well.

The new law becomes effective October 1, 2019.