In a decision that will be officially released on Tuesday, the Connecticut Appellate Court has upheld the dismissal of a wrongful discharge claim against Marvelwood School, an independent school in Kent, Connecticut. In doing so, the Court turned back an attempt to limit the employment-at-will doctrine and provided employers in Connecticut with reassurance that wrongful discharge claims will be appropriately limited.

The case, Zweig v. Marvelwood School, can be viewed here.

(An upfront disclosure: My firm represented the employer here and I represented the school on the successful appeal.) 

The facts of the case are relatively straightforward and are summarized in the court’s decision. The plaintiff Aaron Zweig was employed by the defendant Marvelwood School as a history teacher and school’s Director of Food Studies. That role required him to establish and maintain a garden on campus and use it to teach a class on food studies.

In May, 2015, Mr. Zweig allegedly objected to the school’s suggestion that telephone poles that had been treated with creosote, a pesticide and wood preservative, be used to make raised beds in the garden because he believed that the chemical posed a health risk to himself and his students.


Continue Reading Connecticut Appellate Court Rejects Challenge to At-Will Employment Doctrine

I’ve talked previously about how there are two sets of laws in Connecticut regarding claims arising from termination. There is the law arising from statutes – like the one I discussed this week– and then there is the common law that recognizes a “wrongful discharge”.

“Wrongful Discharge” claims were recognized by our state Supreme

loveWhile the calendar may read Valentine’s Day, I’ve tackled more than my fair share of love-themed posts in the past filled with roses and chocolates.

So instead, I’m going to go in a different direction entirely: Guns. (Though query whether the music group Guns ‘n’ Roses would care to disagree with me.)

See, there was

urinals2Connecticut’s drug testing statutes applicable to employers have always been a bit tricky to follow.  I covered the basics of these laws back in 2010 (you’ve been reading that long, right?).

For job applicants, employers must follow certain rules. Once an applicant becomes an employee, a new set of more stringent rules apply.

But to

In a post from earlier this week , I indicated that a new Appellate Court decision had some interesting points on wrongful discharge claim that were worth exploring. At the same time, the U.S. Supreme Court released a FMLA decision that made a few headlines.

But what I didn’t mention was this: the takeaways from these cases are something only your company’s lawyer is going to love.

First, the Supreme Court case (Coleman v. State of Maryland).  It answered the “burning” question of whether public employees could sue under the “self-care” provisions of the FMLA. 

Not that many of us were asking the question in the first place. 
Continue Reading Decisions Only Your In-House Lawyer Could Love

It will come as no surprise to employers that summary judgment (essentially, throwing out a case before trial) in employment cases in state court is hard to get.  State judges are typically reluctant to grant such a motion, which means cases get scheduled for trial — an expensive and uncertain proposition at best for employers. 

When employers do get summary judgment, their victories may be shortlived. Just ask the employer in the case of Li v. Canberra Industires (download here), which will be officially released on March 27, 2012.

In that case, the employer had criticized the plaintiff for many months on her performance and the employer had the documentation to support it.  In fact, she was told that if her performance didn’t improve, she could be fired.  She was transfered to a new supervisor.


Continue Reading Court: Employee’s Complaint Trumps Performance Issues

"The United States is recommending U.S. citizens defer all non-essential travel to Bahrain."

Have you seen this headline? It’s from 20 years ago.

But strangely, that same headline made a reappearance this week. Don’t remember the last time it happened? Well, you should because a major Connecticut Supreme Court case arose out of it. 

And

There is an unspoken truth about the Superior Courts in Connecticut: Summary judgment for employers in employment-related claims is typically a long shot. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule.

A case to be released by the Connecticut Appellate Court next week shows the difficulty but also shows that at least with regard to