The “short” session of the Connecticut General Assembly is wrapping up early next month so it’s a good opportunity to take a peek at the items that are still in contention for passage this term. Many of the bills that are still being considered relate to the “labor” side of Labor & Employment Law. Here are a few highlights:
- Senate Bill 317 passed the Senate on April 13th and would provide striking workers with unemployment benefits — a big change from existing practice. The CBIA has opposed this measure since employers are the sole revenue source for the unemployment trust fund and face a substantial increase in their taxes. It’s passage in the House remains unclear.
- The Senate also passed Senate Bill 163 on April 21st on the so-called “Employer Gag Order”. The bill would prohibit employers, from disciplining or discharging an employee (or threatening to do so) because the employee refused to attend employer-sponsored meetings or communications primarily intended to convey the employer’s opinion on religious or political matters. Some of these types of meetings are known as “captive audience meetings” and come up in labor unionizing campaigns. I’ve previously discussed this bill (and issues with it) in a post last month. It now moves to the House for consideration.
- House Bill 5444, which passed the House on April 13th, would make in an unfair labor practice to “misrepresent to an employee that the employee is included or excluded from a bargaining unit” or to “permanently replace an employee who participates in a strike”. Along with Senate Bill 317, this measure would greatly expand the leverage that employees have during a strike. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
- Senate Bill 418, which passed the Senate on April 20th, changes the penalties for prevailing wage job contractors or subcontractors that knowingly fail to pay their workers a required prevailing wage. It would also broaden the debarment penalty and include contractors or subcontractors that enter into some settlements with the CTDOL to resolve claims for prevailing wage violations. Again, this bill now moves to the House for consideration.
- Although it doesn’t have employment law provisions, Senate Bill 6 is worth keeping an eye on. It passed the Senate on April 20th and governs all sorts of data privacy issues. Notably the bill is focused on company’s use of consumer data, not employee data which in some instance has been addressed by prior legislation.
Although some other bills appear to be “mostly dead” for now, we’ve seen some reappearances of such bills near the time deadlines and also in the budget reconciliation bill. So stay tuned for more developments.