Over ten years ago, Connecticut became one of the first states to mandate that employers “make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location, in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where the employee can express her milk in private.”

I’ve discussed that law in depth in a prior

With Congress in gridlock, we haven’t seen any federal laws impacting employment law for several years. Instead, we’ve now started to see a lot more action at the state legislative level where proposals to modify everything from family leave to the minimum wage are being passed in, it seems, increasing numbers.

Therefore, what happens in other states is becoming much more important.  For instance, we saw that Connecticut was considering an immigration-related employment bill that was modeled on laws in other states. 

Because of this, and because many employers now have businesses in multiple states, I’ve asked my friend, Courtney Ward-Reichard, a shareholder at Nilan Johnson Lewis in Minneapolis, to share her insights about a pretty broad employment law bill that was just signed into law earlier this week in Minnesota.  While Connecticut already has adopted some of these items, others may be on the horizon, such as lowering the employee threshhold for family leave to 20 or more employees. After all, if one state has passed it, propoants can argue that Connecticut’s passage won’t put us as a competitive disadvantage when compared with similar states. 

In any event, my thanks to Courtney for her insights here.

On May 11, 2014, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed landmark legislation – a group of bills that became known as the Women’s Economic Security Act (“WESA”). WESA will most directly affect employers with operations and employees in Minnesota. But employers in Connecticut and elsewhere should take note: this legislation – or its components – may well serve as a model in other states.

Here are the most significant changes:

• Creates new protected class for familial status: WESA expands the Minnesota Human Rights Act (“MHRA”) by adding familial status as a new protected class. Employers will likely face new state charges and lawsuits alleging discrimination on the basis of this status, and victorious plaintiffs may seek not only damages, but also their attorneys’ fees. This expansion makes Minnesota unusual, as federal law and most states’ laws do not include familial status as a protected class. This change became effective the day after Governor Dayton signed the bill.

• Expands pregnancy and parenting leave: Covered employers (with over 20 employees) must provide up to twelve weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees for: 1) the birth or adoption of a child; or 2) prenatal care, or incapacity due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related health conditions (for female employees). Employees may take the first type of leave within twelve months of the birth/after the child leaves the hospital. These changes will be effective July 1, 2014, and will affect numerous employers who are not covered by the federal FMLA. Employers will be allowed to require employees to use their sick leave during parental leave, and the leave will also run concurrently with any FMLA leave.


Continue Reading Guest Post: Women’s Economic Security Act May Serve As Model for Other States

If you’ve been with this blog since it’s inception, you probably recall a few posts here, here, and here that I did early on about what employers needed to know about the breastfeeding in the workplace laws.

Now, the CHRO in conjunction with the Connecticut Departments of Public Health and Labor, and the

With all the legislative developments in Connecticut over the last year or so, it’s tough to keep track of all of the changes that your company needs to consider to update your employee handbook and employment policies.

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of some of the changes to consider with a link to more information on each of them.

1) For your EEO policies, be sure to add “gender identity” as a protected category.   You may also want to consider adding language that your company will not discriminate based on “any other protected category under state or federal law” to protect you.
Continue Reading The Seven Updates To Consider to Your Employee Handbook

UPDATED

Credit Molly DiBianca at Delaware Employment Law Blog and Fitzpatrick on Employment Law for highlighting a little-known provision that was passed in the health care law.  As summarized by Molly:

Section 4207, titled, Reasonable Break Time for Nursing Mothers amends the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). Because it is born to the FLSA, its