The following article was provided by Berchem Moses PC. It is posted here with permission.
The 2022 legislative session resulted in several significant changes to Connecticut’s anti-discrimination law that will impact employers and take effect on Oct. 1, 2022.
As a reminder, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits employment discrimination and harassment because of an “individual’s race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability, learning disability, physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness or status as a veteran,” and prohibits retaliation against an employee for engaging in protected activities as defined under the act.
CFEPA was amended under Public Act 22-82 to add status as a domestic violence victim as a protected class, likewise prohibiting discrimination against such individuals.
The act amends CFEPA to bar employers from denying an employee a “reasonable leave of absence” as an accommodation to seek attention for injuries caused by domestic violence or to obtain services related to the domestic violence, as long as the absence does not cause an undue hardship to the employer.
However, the act allows employers to request specific supporting documentation from employees to demonstrate the need for the leave.
Further, “[t]o the extent permitted by law, employers shall maintain the confidentiality of any information regarding an employee’s status as a victim of domestic violence.”
The act does not address how this provision will interact with Connecticut General Statute § 31-51ss, which provides 12 days of leave for reasons connected to family violence.
The act also requires each state agency (but not private/municipal employers) “to provide a minimum of one hour of training and education related to domestic violence and the resources available to victims of domestic violence,” to employees hired before Jan.1. 2023, by July 1, 2023, and to employees hired on or after Jan. 1, 2023, within six months after their start date.
The act identifies the requirements of the training and education, which can be accomplished by using materials to be developed by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
Very Small Employer Coverage
Additionally, the act expands CFEPA’s coverage by amending the definition of employer to now include all employers with one or more employees.
Previously, to be a covered employer under CFEPA, an employer had to have three or more employees.
Individuals with a household employee, such as a nanny, may be surprised to learn they will now be subject to many of the requirements of CFEPA.
Elected and Appointed Official Coverage
Finally, the act amends the definition of employee under CFEPA to now include “any elected or appointed official of a municipality, board, commission, counsel or other governmental body.”
These individuals will now be required to receive mandatory trainings under the law and may have rights to leaves of absence or other reasonable accommodations not typically required for non-employees.
Employers should be aware of these changes and update their policies accordingly.
Additionally, state agencies should have a plan in place to prepare for the domestic violence training requirements.
About the author: Paul Testa serves as senior counsel in Berchem Moses PC’s Labor and Employment practice group. He has been practicing labor and employment law in Connecticut since 2007. Labor and employment attorneys at Berchem Moses PC can assist employers with updating policies to comply with the CFEPA changes.