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Employment Laws in Connecticut

Filed under Hiring Workers. Fact checked on August 7, 2013.

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Employers in Connecticut must conform to these state rules relating to the employment relationship.

Employee means a person employed by an employer but does not include an individual employed by his or her parents, spouse or child, or in the domestic service of another.

Employer includes the state and all political subdivisions of the state and any person employing three or more workers.

For purposes of the prohibition on discrimination against smokers and the electronic monitoring provisions, employer includes anyone engaged in business who has any employees.

Prohibited Employment Discrimination

Employers may not discriminate against employees or job applicants on the basis of:

  • race
  • color
  • religious creed
  • age
  • sex
  • marital status
  • national origin
  • ancestry
  • present or past history or mental disorder
  • learning disability
  • physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness
  • genetic information

The Human Rights and Opportunities Act makes it a discriminatory practice for any person to subject or cause to be subjected, any other person to the deprivation of any rights, privileges or immunities, secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of Connecticut or of the United States, on account of race, color, national origin, alienage, religion, sex, sexual orientation, blindness, and physical disability.

Nursing mothers. Employers may not discriminate against, discipline, or take adverse employment actions against an employee because she has elected to exercise her right to express breast milk or breastfeed on site at her workplace during her meal or break period.

Sexual orientation. Employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited. Religious organizations are excepted from the ban on sexual orientation discrimination.

Civil unions. Civil unions between same-sex couples are legally recognized in Connecticut.

Same-sex marriage. Same-sex marriage is allowed in Connecticut.

Smoking preference. Employers or their agents may not require, as a condition of employment, that any employee or prospective employee refrain from smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment for smoking or using tobacco products outside the course of employment. Any nonprofit organization or corporation whose primary purpose is to discourage the use of tobacco products by the general public is exempt from this law.

Medical exams and age discrimination. Requiring medical examinations for older employees for the purpose of determining such employees' physical qualification for continued employment is not unlawful.

Victims of family violence. Employers with three or more employees are required to allow an employee who is a victim of family violence to take paid or unpaid leave to seek medical care or psychological injury or disability for the victim; to obtain services from a victim services organization on behalf of the victim; to relocate due to the family violence; or to participate in any civil or criminal proceeding related to or resulting from the family violence.

Criminal record. Employers are prohibited from denying employment to a prospective employee solely on the basis that the prospective employee had a prior arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased.

Office seekers. Employers of 25 or more employees can not discriminate against, discipline or discharge any employee because the employee is a candidate for the office of representative or senator in the General Assembly; holds such an office; is a member-elect to such an office; or loses time from work in order to perform duties as a representative, senator or member-elect. However, employers are not required to pay wages or salaries for time lost due to these activities.

Electronic monitoring. Except as provided below, each employer who engages in any type of electronic monitoring must give prior written notice to all employees who may be affected, informing them of the types of monitoring that may occur. Each employer must post, in a conspicuous place that is readily available for viewing by its employees, a notice concerning the types of electronic monitoring that the employer may engage in. Such posting will constitute such prior written notice.

When an employer has reasonable grounds to believe that employees are engaged in conduct that violates the law, violates the legal rights of the employer or the employer's employees, or creates a hostile workplace environment; and electronic monitoring may produce evidence of this misconduct, the employer may conduct monitoring without giving prior written notice. The electronic monitoring provisions do not apply to a criminal investigation. Any information obtained in the course of a criminal investigation through the use of electronic monitoring may be used in a disciplinary proceeding against an employee.

Equal pay. If an employee can demonstrate that an employer discriminates on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees at the employer's business at a rate less than the rate at which the employer pays wages to employees of the opposite sex at such business for equal work on a job, the employer must demonstrate that the differential in pay is made pursuant to at least one of the following:

  • a seniority system
  • a merit system
  • a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production
  • a differential system based upon a bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training or experience

Employers who violate these provisions may be found liable to the employee for the difference between the amount of wages paid and the maximum wage paid any other employee for equal work, compensatory damages and, if the violation is found to be intentional, punitive damages.

Gender identity or expression. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an individual in compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of gender identity or expression. Exceptions may be made for religious entities.

Credit history. Employers are prohibited from requiring an employee or prospective employee to consent to a request for a credit report as a condition of employment except if the employer is a financial institution, a report is required by law, the employer reasonably believes that the employee has engaged in specific activity that constitutes a violation of the law related to the employee's employment, or a report is substantially related to the employee's current or potential job or the employer has a bona fide purpose for requesting or using information in the credit report that is substantially job-related and is disclosed in writing to the employee or applicant.

Medicinal marijuana patients and caregivers. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against an applicant or an employee solely on the basis of the applicant's or employee's status as a medicinal marijuana patient or caregiver.

Homeless persons. Effective October 1, 2013, homeless persons in Connecticut have the right to equal opportunities for employment.

Recordkeeping/Posting Requirements

Employers must post information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment. Employers must post notices regarding compliance with Connecticut's Fair Employment Practices Act as provided by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.

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