Both federal and state employment law protects employees at every step of the employment process, from hiring to firing. Here are the basic laws that protect you as an employee in Connecticut.

Getting Hired

It is Illegal to discriminate against job applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. Employers may not use these factors in job advertisements, interviews and application decisions.

Employers must limit interview questions to those relevant to the position available and are prohibited from asking questions about disability. Questions about race, sex, national origin, age and religion are irrelevant in determining qualification. Learn more about employment discrimination frequently asked questions.

Minimum Wage and Overtime

Federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and employers must pay at least the federal minimum wage as well as overtime pay of one and a half times the regular rate of pay. Overtime rules cover the majority of employees, but there are occasional exemptions.

States may have their own laws, with additional protection. Connecticut's minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. Employers must pay one and a half times the employee's regular rate of pay after 40 hours in the workweek. Overtime pay is due for actual hours worked over 40.

Workplace Conditions

Employees have the right to a safe workplace. Employers must ensure working conditions free of known dangers and provide safety training.

Employees have the right to request the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to perform safety inspections. Employers may not retaliate, discriminate or fire employees for pointing out unsafe conditions.

Workers' Compensation

Workers' Compensation is a disability compensation program that provides recompense to workers, or their dependents, who are injured at work or acquire an occupational disease.

Examples of compensation include wage replacement, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits.

Federal compensation covers federal workers. Individuals injured on the job while employed by private companies or state and local government agencies must refer to Connecticut workers' compensation board, which covers almost all employees, including minors, non-citizens and part-time employees, regardless of occupation, business size, duration of employment or number of hours worked per day—except for those working around a private home for not more than 26 hours per week.

Time-Off Programs

In addition to employer’s time-off programs, there are some types of time off required by federal and perhaps state law. One example is family and medical leave, which is the right to take time off for personal and family needs. The time off under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act gives up to 12 weeks a year of unpaid time off and sometimes longer. You have the right to be reinstated after leave with the same or equal position.

Most states allow time off to vote, but Connecticut does not have such a law.

Harassment Regulations

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination. It is illegal under federal law and includes but is not limited to sexual harassment.

Harassment is any unwelcome conduct related to race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability or genetic information. It is also considered harassment if enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or the conduct creates a hostile intimidating or abusive work environment.

Termination Rights

In almost all states, including Connecticut, private-sector employers and employees generally have the right to terminate employment at will whenever, without giving a reason.

Employers may not fire for an illegal reasons such as: retaliation, discrimination, refusal to take a lie detector test, alien status or OSHA complaint, or if the employee is in violation of public policy such as refusing to break the law, complaining about law-breaking or exercising a legal right.

Connecticut requires employers to give departing employees their final paychecks next business day after being fired or next scheduled payday if employee quits, and any unused vacation pay that has accrued is not required to be paid out in your final paycheck.

After-Employment Benefits

After employment ends, employees may still be eligible for some benefits.

The Department of Labor's Unemployment Insurance programs offer unemployment benefits to eligible workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Benefits are equal to a percentage of earnings for a maximum of 26 weeks. The Connecticut Weekly Benefit Rate may range from a minimum of $15 to a current maximum of $591.

COBRA provides eligible former employees, retirees, spouses, former spouses and dependent children the right to temporary continuation of health coverage at group rates for 18 months. This coverage, however, is only available when coverage is lost due to voluntary and involuntary termination, not due to gross misconduct, and very small companies under 20 employees are usually excluded.

Consulting With an Employment Attorney

Employment law is complex. Anyone with questions about their circumstances at work should consult with a Connecticut employment lawyer.

Tagged as: Employment Discrimination, Labor and Employment, Wrongful Termination