Don’t despair the high taxes, the even higher cost of living, and the looming budget crisis just yet. There are still plenty of advantages to living in the state of Connecticut – picturesque town squares, good schools, casinos, and – outside of Chapel Hill – arguably the best college basketball program in the country.
Federal laws meant to protect employees typically set a floor. Each individual state is then free to implement specific laws as long as they do not erode on the protections created by the federal government.
Other than just being a nice place to live, here are four examples of where Connecticut provides greater protection to employees.
The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) applies to employers with three or more employees and provides far broader protection to employees than federal law. The CFEPA prohibits discrimination not only based on race, color, religion, age, gender, pregnancy, and national origin, but also ancestry, past or present history of mental disorder, mental disability, learning disability, physical disability, marital status, and sexual orientation. Furthermore, unlike the federal ADA, the CFEPA’s definition of “disability” does not require there to be a limitation on a major life activity, thereby giving employees greater protection from discriminatory treatment.
2. At-will employment.
There is also the Connecticut interpretation of the concept of “at will” employment, which means that either party – employer or employee – may terminate the employment relationship, at any time, for any (or no) reason that does not otherwise violate state or federal law. Connecticut recognizes two exceptions to this concept: the termination cannot (1) violate an important public policy or (2) breach an implied contract of employment. While there is a strong presumption that all employment (in the absence of a written employment contract) is at-will, the mere fact that Connecticut courts have carved out exceptions to this is notable.
3. Minimum wage.
Connecticut’s minimum wage is $10.10 per hour. That is one of the highest in the nation, and nearly 40 percent higher than the federal wage of $7.25 per hour. A few states do not even have a set minimum.
Connecticut has one of the nation’s most active and progressive departments of labor in the nation, which means there are a variety of resources, programs, and legal precedent available to protect your rights. See http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/ for more information and assistance.
If you have been terminated, and if you do not have a claim under federal law, you still might have a claim under Connecticut law.
Joe received his law degree from the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill School of Law and his Accounting degree from the University of Rhode Island. He is admitted to practice law in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, and he is a CPA. He is an Adjunct Professor and lecturer at the University level and has been a frequent speaker on business planning and legal matters.
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