New Connecticut Employment Regulations Effective October 1, 2021
Connecticut has a multitude of new and updated employment laws going into effect on October 1, 2021. Two of the most significant, PA 21-30 and PA-21-69, target discrimination in the workplace. Specifically, PA 21-30 attempts to curb gender-based discrimination, while PA 21-69 focuses on age-based discrimination.
PA 21-30: Disclosure of Wage Ranges
Effective October 1, 2021, employers will be required to provide both job applicants and employees with a wage range for their desired or current position. The wage range provided must be the range of wages the employer anticipates relying on when setting wages for the position, and can include references to any applicable pay scale, previously determined ranges of wages for the position, actual ranges of wages for the employees currently holding comparable positions, or the employer’s budgeted amount for the position.
This Act applies to any employer within the state using the services of one or more employees for pay, as well as to any employee employed or permitted to work by an employer. This Act also applies to individuals outside the physical confines of Connecticut who are applying to work by remote means with an employer in the state. The term “applicant” within this Act refers to any individual who applies for a job; “applicant” should be read and interpreted broadly.
For job applicants, the employer must disclose the wage range upon the earlier of the applicant’s request or when the applicant is made an offer of compensation. Employers must disclose the wage range upon the hiring of the employee, a change in the employee’s position, or upon the employee’s first request. If an employer does not disclose, the employer will be liable for compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees if the applicant or current employee brings a private right of action.
These disclosures were enacted with the intention of reducing gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Under this bill, in addition to mandating salary disclosure, an employer is prohibited from providing differential wages to employees of the opposite sex for “comparable work” on a job. This amends a pre-existing Connecticut statute which prohibited employers from providing differential wages to employees of the opposite sex for “equal work.” Note that employers may pay differential wages based on nondiscriminatory factors such as seniority, a merit-based system, a measurement of earnings by quantity or quality of production, or other factors based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, including but not limited to education, training, credential, skill, geographic location, or experience.
For more details concerning this law, please see this UKS article posted on June 29, 2021: An Act Concerning the Disclosure of Salary Range for a Vacant Position | UKS.
PA 21-69: Deterring Age Discrimination in Employment Applications
PA 21-69 targets age discrimination during the application process. This new law prohibits employers and their agents (including third party recruiters) to require a job applicant’s age, birth date, or date of graduation from an educational institution on an initial employment application. There are two exceptions to this: (1) when an employer who is requesting the information does so based on a bona fide occupational qualification or need; or (2) when an employer who is requesting the information does so to comply with any provision of state or federal law. Note that this applies only to an initial employment application; questions pertaining to age further along in the application process are still permitted for non-discriminatory reasons.
Governor Ned Lamont has enacted several additional workplace related laws during the 2021 Connecticut Legislative Session also effective on October 1, 2021. These statutes fall into three categories: (1) domestic workers; (2) cybersecurity and data breaches; and (3) general workplace regulations.
- Domestic Workers
This year the legislature broadened the range of written information that employers must provide to domestic workers when they are hired. Domestic workers are defined as employees who are paid or who are told they will be paid to perform work of a domestic nature in a private dwelling. This work can include, but is not limited to, housekeeping, laundering, meal preparation, home companion, home management or childcare services or the caretaking of individuals, including sick, convalescing, or elderly individuals, or other household services for the occupants of a private dwelling or guests of said occupants. Effective October 1, 2021, employers of domestic workers must provide, in written form, information including (1) the worker’s job duties and responsibilities; (2), the availability of sick leave, rest days, vacation, personal days, and holidays; (3) whether the employer may charge fees or costs for board and lodging, and, if so, their amount; and (4) how to file a complaint about a violation of the worker’s rights.
- Cybersecurity and Data Breaches
Connecticut has adopted a new law to encourage covered entities, which is any entity if it accesses, maintains, communicates, or processes personal or restricted information in or through systems, networks, or services located inside or outside the state, to adopt certain cybersecurity standards. Effective October 1, 2021, the Connecticut Superior Court is prohibited from assessing punitive damages against these entities for a data breach of personal or restricted information if the entities’ cybersecurity program conforms to the current version or any combination of the current version of:
- The “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity” published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology;
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s special publication 800-171;
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s special publications 800-53 and 800-53a;
- The Federal Risk and Management Program’s “FedRAMP Security Assessment Framework”;
- The Center for Internet Security’s “Center for Internet Security Critical security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense”; or
- The “ISO/IEC 27000-series” information security standards published by the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission.
Connecticut has also expanded its data breach notification law to apply to additional types of information and cover more individuals who keep said information. The data breach notification law now requires anyone who owns, licenses, or maintains computerized data that includes personal information to notify the appropriate parties in the case of a data breach. This expands the previous law from solely those who keep this information in the ordinary course of doing business in the state. The new law also shortened the deadline by which data managers must inform affected consumers and the attorney general of the data breach from 90 days to 60 days.
- Health-Related Workplace Regulations
The Connecticut Legislature has added stricter regulations regarding health in the workplace. A new law, effective October 1, 2021, requires employers to ban smoking, whether tobacco, cannabis, or hemp, and e-cigarette use in any area in the workplace, regardless of the number of employees. This ban applies both inside the office and within 25 feet of a doorway, window, or air intake vent. Exceptions to this ban include, but are not limited to, smoking rooms provided by employers for employees and designated outdoor smoking areas.
Also effective October 1, 2021 is an expansion on laws regarding breastfeeding in the workplace. Existing law requires that employers provide an area, other than a bathroom stall, where an employee can express milk. The updated law requires that this area be free from intrusion and shielded from the public eye, include or be near a refrigerator or employee-provided cold storage device so the employee can store her breast milk, and have access to an electrical outlet.