As I’ve said in prior posts, the General Assembly isn’t exactly precise at times when writing legislation. (One is reminded by the quote regarding sausage making.)
One issue that pops up from time to time is whether an employer need be “Connecticut-based” to be covered by Connecticut state laws, particularly as it applies to employment laws.
The Office of Legislative Research (OLR) — one of my favorite underappreciated government agencies — recently released an entire memo of the subject that’s worth a read for anyone trying to figure out the scope of a particular law.
The precise issue that it covers? Do the state’s labor statutes use “Connecticut-based” or similar terminology as a criteria (1) for an employer or employee’s eligibility for any programs or benefits, or (2) to impose any legal obligations on an employer or employee?
The OLR concludes as follows:
- Connecticut’s labor statutes (Title 31 of the General Statutes) do not explicitly use the term “Connecticut-based” as a criteria (1) for an employer or employee’s eligibility for any programs or benefits or (2) to impose any legal obligations on an employer or employee. However, many of these statutes require that an employer or employee be “in Connecticut,” “in the state,” or “in this state,” in order to qualify for a particular program or to be covered by a particular law.
- Chapter 814c of the General Statutes, which covers various employment discrimination provisions, among other things, does not explicitly require that an employer or employee be “Connecticut-based,” “in Connecticut,” “in the state,” or “in this state,” in order to be covered by it.
- Presumably, in instances where a statute does not explicitly require an in-state location for an employer or employee, the administering agency (e.g., the Department of Labor or the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities) has greater leeway to interpret the law on that issue, particularly by adopting implementing regulations (see Velez v. Commissioner of Labor, 306 Conn.
The reference to the Velez decision is a notable one. In that case, the state Supreme Court found that Connecticut’s FMLA law only covered employers that have 75 or more employees in Connecticut and relied on the regulations to support its decision.
For employers, memos and topics like these are important with some employees working remotely. It’s important in evaluating coverage of a particular state to know how that state defines an “employer”. At least here in Connecticut, it’s not entirely clear all the time so employers should seek their legal counsel for guidance on how to maneuver this subject.