A hearing is set for Thursday on draft legislation to “fix” a bill that had been earlier vetoed and that I discussed in a post earlier this week. CTNewsJunkie.com was first to report on the details earlier Wednesday.
The bill comes at an interesting crossroads in restaurant wage/hour law. Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Labor released proposed guidance that would give restaurants far greater latitude in deciding on tip pools and the application of the tip credit.
Indeed, the proposed federal regulation would permit a tip credit to be taken regardless of the percentage of servers’ time that’s spent on so-called “non-service” duties, provided this side work is done during, just before, or a reasonable time after regular “service” time.
The proposed Connecticut bill can be found here and would require the CTDOL to write regulations that employers can then, in good faith, rely upon. The bill would also try to limit some class actions that have been brought as well. It’s somewhat consistent with the proposal being floated about last week that I posted on on Tuesday.
The two key provisions of the new bill are as follows:
- Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision (1) of this subsection, if any employee is paid by his or her employer less than the minimum fair wage or overtime wage to which he or she is entitled under section 31-62-E4 of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies, such employee shall recover, in a civil action, (A) twice the full amount of such minimum wage or overtime wage less any amount actually paid to such employee by the employer, with costs and such reasonable attorney’s fees as may be allowed by the court, or (B) if the employer establishes that the employer had a good faith belief that the underpayment of such wages was in compliance with the law, the full amount of such minimum wage or overtime wage less any amount actually paid to such employee by the employer, with costs as may be allowed by the court. A good faith belief includes, but is not limited to, reasonable reliance on written guidance from the Labor Department.
- Notwithstanding section 52-105 of the general statutes, no person may be authorized by a court to sue for the benefit of other alleged similarly situated persons in a case brought for violations of section 31-62-E4 of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies, unless such person, in addition to satisfying any judicial rules of practice governing class action certifications, demonstrates to the court, under the appropriate burden of proof, that the defendant is liable to all individual proposed class members because all such members (A) performed nonservice duties while employed by the defendant, for more than a de minimis amount of time, that were not incidental to service duties, and (B) were not properly compensated by the defendant for some portion of their nonservice duties in accordance with section 31-62-E4 of the regulations of Connecticut state agencies.
The bill would make these effective from passage and likely give restaurants some protection with the existing class-action litigation that has been plaguing these places. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. at the legislature.