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New Connecticut Laws Affecting Business, Employment Go Into Effect Today

  • Several pieces of legislation passed in Connecticut earlier this year established Oct. 1 as their date of implementation
  • Measures to prevent gender and age discrimination are among the major legislative updates
  • Employers are also required to make salary disclosures, and should be aware of new smoking and breastfeeding rules

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

Several laws affecting business practices and employee management are set to go into effect on Friday after their provisions were established in legislation earlier this year.

A number of bills approved by the Connecticut General Assembly set Oct. 1 as the date when their provisions would go into effect. Several are applicable to all employers, while an expanded bottle bill is limited to certain retailers.

Anti-discrimination measures

The legislature sought to strengthen its laws against gender wage discrimination, requiring employers to provide equal pay for “comparable” work rather than equal work. In an effort to curtail age discrimination, it also passed a measure restricting information an employer can request from job applicants that would reveal their age.

The gender wage discrimination says employees can show gender-based pay discrimination if their compensation is lower than an employee of the opposite sex performing comparable work. The comparison must be viewed as a composite of skill, effort, and responsibility for duties performed under similar working conditions.

If challenged, an employer must show that any compensation difference is related to the job and consistent with business needs. The law also forbids employers from terminating or taking any other adverse action against employees who file a gender discrimination complaint.

The age discrimination legislation forbids employers from requesting a job applicant’s age, date of birth, or graduation date on an initial employment application. Exceptions are made for employers who can demonstrate that age information is needed due to a bona fide occupational qualification or need, as well as those who need it to comply with any provision of a state or federal law.

Salary disclosures

The gender wage discrimination update also requires employers with at least one employee to be more transparent about the salaries they intend to offer for open positions. Employers must provide job applicants with a wage range for the position they are applying for, either at their request, before or when they are offered the job, or when their role changes within the company.

Smoking and breastfeeding

As part of Connecticut’s legalization of recreational marijuana, the legislature has updated the state’s workplace smoking laws. The law states that companies’ outdoor smoking areas must be at least 25 feet from any windows, doors, or air intake vents. Smoking bans in certain venues have also been extended to include electronic smoking devices and marijuana as well as traditional tobacco products.

Another law extends employer responsibilities for providing accommodations for breastfeeding employees. Employers were already required to make “reasonable efforts” to provide a room or location near an employee’s workspace where they can express breast milk, and the revised statutes say the space must also be free of intrusion and shielded from public view, have an electrical outlet, and have or be located near a refrigerator or portable cold storage device provided by the employer.

The law says employers can be exempted if these requirements will create undue hardship. Factors such as the company’s size, financial resources, and structural organization are taken into consideration in making this assessment.

Bottle bill

Connecticut’s updated bottle bill is undergoing a variety of changes, including an expansion of the types of drinks subject to the state’s beverage container redemption law in 2023 and an increase in the redemption amount to 10 cents in 2024.

Effective Friday, the handling fee distributors must pay to dealers and redemption centers is increasing to 2.5 cents or 3.5 cents, depending on the type of container. Advocates hope that this change will help boost revenues for redemption centers and encourage more people to open this type of business.

Certain retailers must also begin providing at least two reverse vending machines starting on Friday to allow consumers to return containers and collect their redemption value. This is generally limited to larger businesses, specifically chain stores with at least 10 locations in Connecticut under common ownership and at least 7,000 square feet devoted to sale items.

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