Although discrimination and harassment claims are among the most common disputes in the workplace, employees may also bring up problems with their wages. Another familiar disagreement involves wrongful termination and breaches in employment agreements.
As an employer, you should have definitive policies to handle complaints. An employee handbook drafted by a skilled attorney can inform your workers on what is expected and what will not be tolerated. Problems will always occur when people interact with each other all day, but a Connecticut employment disputes lawyer could help keep these problems from festering into lawsuits.
Connecticut is an at-will employment state, which means that without an employment contract in place, an employer can dismiss employees for any or no reason. Likewise, an employee can resign at any time. However, under federal and state laws, employers will find themselves in trouble if they dismiss employees due to discrimination. A knowledgeable local attorney could further explain these laws in the context of an employment dispute.
Generally, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000e, prohibits public and private employers from discriminating because of an employee’s race, sex, color, religion, age (if over 40), or national origin in workplaces employing at least 15 people.
Connecticut General Statutes § 46a-60 also prohibits discrimination in the workplace for all the federal classes. The state laws expand these classes for workplaces with at least three employees to include:
Connecticut laws are also more expansive regarding sexual harassment, protection of pregnant employees, and prohibiting discrimination against job applicants who have a prior criminal conviction. An employee who suspects dismissal is based on discrimination can file a complaint with a state or federal regulatory agency. An employment disputes attorney at our firm can review employment practices to identify areas that may be considered discriminatory.
Employment contracts circumvent the at-will status, and both employees and employers are bound to perform under the terms of the agreement. However, essential employees who have signed an employment contract could challenge the validity of restrictive covenants that may be unreasonable.
These agreements must specify a term length, and barring breach by either party, the employee should remain employed for that length of time. Contract breaches in Connecticut are usually handled in court, where an experienced attorney can litigate the employment dispute.
Many workplace disputes arise over wages, especially in cases where the employer can pay less than the state’s minimum (for example, to tipped employees). Currently, Connecticut’s minimum wage is $13.00 per hour, which will increase to $14.00 in July 2022 and $15.00 in June 2023. Tipped service employees are paid a minimum of $6.38 per hour, and bartenders $8.23 per hour so long as their combined wages plus tips equals Connecticut’s minimum wage. Employers subject to wage complaints under the Department of Labor should contact a credible attorney to sort through the employment dispute.
Connecticut has answered the rising cry against sexual harassment with the Time’s Up Act. This expands training to combat sexual harassment in the workplace to include employers with at least three employees, even if the employees are family members. Employers must now train supervisors and employees to recognize and report sexual harassment. A well-practiced lawyer can further explain employment laws pertaining to sexual harassment and help prevent issues in the workplace.
Proper protocols and training can help prevent problems in the workplace. However, issues sometimes arise anyway, making it important to seek help from an attorney before the dispute lands you in court or before a regulatory board.
A Connecticut employment disputes lawyer can explain the federal and state laws governing workplace issues of discrimination, sexual harassment, contracts, and wages. Call Sparks Law today to schedule an appointment and get the help you need.