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CT Paid Sick Leave Expands October 1, 2023

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On October 1, 2023, Connecticut’s Paid Sick Leave expands to permit two additional forms of use. Among other permitted uses, covered employees will be able to take paid sick time for (i) mental health wellness days – defined as a day to attend to a workers “emotional and psychological well-being in lieu of attending a regularly scheduled shift”, and (ii) to care for an employee’s child who is the victim of family violence or sexual assault, so long as the employee is not the actual or alleged perpetrator. 

Governor Ned Lamont signed the new law, S.B. 2, into legislation on June 26, 2023. Connecticut’s current sick leave law (codified at Connecticut General Statutes 31-57s) covers most employers with more than 50 employees within Connecticut. The law requires employers to permit accrual, rollover and use of up to 40 hours a year of paid sick leave for “service workers” — a category that applies to many – but not all – hourly, non-exempt employees.  Employers may comply with CT’s sick leave requirements by providing employees with alternative paid time off (e.g., vacation), so long as the time off meets or exceeds all the requirements of the sick leave law. Employers have just under three months to prepare for the effective date of this new law. 

Action Items for CT Employers:

  • review and update and distribute existing sick leave and other time off policies and procedures, and
  • train managers and HR staff to recognize and respond to requests for leave that fall into these new categories of permitted and protected use. 

Woltz & Folkinshteyn, P.C. welcomes your questions about this and any other employment concerns that you may have.

Should I Stay or Should I Go: Will 2023 be the Death Knell for Non-Compete Agreements?

UPDATE (June 27, 2023): Since the original post, the New York State bill passed the NYS Assembly and is currently awaiting Governor Hochul’s signature.

It is hard to be a non-compete agreement (“NCA”) in 2023.  It seems like every week another regulatory body or state legislature comes out against this long-standing tool in the employer-employee relationship.  Just in the past few months, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”), the National Labor Relations Bureau (“NLRB”) and New York State have all come out against non-compete agreements in one way or another.

  • In January 2023, the FTC announced a proposed rule that would essentially ban all non-compete agreements with retroactive effect.  The last day to comment on the proposal was April 19, 2023.  Although non-solicit agreements are not specifically covered, under the proposed definition of “non-compete clause,” non-solicits would be considered non-compete clauses “where they are so unusually broad in scope that they function as such.”
  • The New York State legislature is considering amendments to New York Labor Law to similarly ban non-competes, though without retroactive effect.  There appears to be language in this proposed legislation that carves out non-solicitation agreements from the ban.
  • And to top it off, just at the end of May 2023, NLRB’s General Counsel came out with a memo opining that non-compete agreements may  violate Section 7 of the NLRA.  This memo also expresses a negative view of non-solicitation agreements as violative of employees’ rights regarding concerted activity.

The headwinds against NCAs in other jurisdictions have already been blowing strong for some time. By way of example: 

  • Indiana banned non-competes for certain medical professionals effective July 1, 2023;
  • Washington, D.C. banned non-competes for most employees who make less than $150,000.00 or physicians who make less than $250,000.00;
  • California has generally banned non-competes outright;
  • A number of states, including Colorado and Illinois, prohibit NCAs for employees below a certain salary threshold.
  • In Connecticut, proposed legislation would restrict the use of NCAs unless they meet certain strict requirements, be no longer than one year in duration and apply to exempt employees only.  

What’s An Employer to Do?

  • As things stand now, many jurisdictions (including NY) still enforce non-competes so long as they are reasonable in geographic scope, length, and narrowly drafted to protect a protectable interest of the employer.  Employers who have not had legal counsel review existing NCAs recently should review their language to ensure that the prohibitions are likely to be enforced by a Court if challenged.
  • Although it is still unclear which way the questions regarding non-solicitation agreements will play out, the current legislative and regulatory efforts seem to recognize that non-solicits are different from non-competes and can be a legitimate tool when narrowly tailored. Thus, employers should also review their non-solicitation agreement practices and tailor them accordingly to replace, if possible, the use of non-compete prohibitions. 
  • Non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs”) are still permitted as a tool to limit disclosure of proprietary business or trade secret information. However, NDAs cannot be so overbroad as to prohibit the disclosure of information that would prevent the employee from participating in an EEOC or other government regulatory investigation, chill potential Section 7 activities, or limit the ability of most employees to share compensation information with others. Additionally, there are limits to their use in certain circumstances, typically involving settling or resolving claims of sexual harassment and assault.  Similarly, NDAs should not be so broad as to make NDAs virtually indistinguishable from non-competes, functionally.  Employers should ensure that existing NDAs do no more than necessary to protect legitimate proprietary information from disclosure by departing employees.
  • Employers may also want to consider alternatives to NCAs, such as offering paid “garden leave” during a would-be period of restriction, or a “forfeiture for competition” arrangement.

As always, all of these options should not be considered in a vacuum, but reviewed and considered in consultation with your business stakeholders and legal counsel.

Woltz & Folkinshteyn, P.C. welcomes your questions about this and any other employment concerns that you may have.

CT Employers: Stay Ahead of the Pack in 2023

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It is hard to believe that we are almost three weeks into 2023.  As CT employers assess the road ahead, these are some of the new and not-so-new employment laws to stay on top of in the coming months.

  • Clean Slate Law.  On January 1, 2023, CT saw the start of the implementation of the so-called “Clean Slate Law”.  The law provides for automatic erasure of certain enumerated criminal records after a specified time period following conviction.  Employers are prohibited from inquiring about a job applicant’s erased criminal records or deny employment based on an applicant’s erased criminal records.  An employment application form that contains any question concerning the criminal history of the applicant shall contain a notice, in clear and conspicuous language, notifying the applicant that he or she is not required to disclose the existence of any record which has been erased pursuant to the Clean Slate Law.  Employers should not only scrub their employment applications of unlawful queries, but should train hiring managers on this new law, so that inappropriate questions are not asked during interviews. 
  • Minimum Wage Increases.  Signed into law by Governor Ned Lamont in 2019, the law provides for a scheduled increase of minimum wage to $15 an hour on July 1, 2023.  Beginning January 1, 2024, the “minimum fair wage” is set to be adjusted by the percentage change in the employment cost index as calculated by the US Department of Labor.
  • Recreational Adult-Use Cannabis.  Effective July 1, 2022, An Act Concerning Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis prohibits CT employers from disciplining current employees or denying employment to prospective applicants based on lawful off-duty recreational marijuana use, with some notable exceptions, including, e.g., when such hiring or failure to take adverse employment action would put the employer in violation of federal law or contract, or when the employer is considered “exempted” under the statute.  The law does not prohibit employers from maintaining alcohol and drug-free workplaces and allows employee discipline and other adverse actions based on articulable signs of impairment while on the job.
  • Fair Employment Practices Act (“CFEPA”).  With amendments effective in October 2022, the law requires employers with one or more employees to provide a reasonable leave of absence for reasons relating to domestic violence and otherwise prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on an individual’s status as a domestic violence victim.  Employers must also post this notice in the workplace.

As always, Woltz & Folkinshteyn, P.C. welcomes your questions about this and any other employment concerns that you may have.

Four Employment Law Developments to Watch in 2023

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Now that the tumultuous 2022 is over, here are the four employment law developments to stay on top of in 2023. Employers have to stay on their toes in the year ahead!

Non-Competes. Employers have used non-compete and non-solicit clauses in employment agreements for a variety of reasons for many years. A number of states as well as the FTC have now stepped in to regulate the use of these post-employment clauses, with a particular focus on non competes. On January 5, 2023, the FTC proposed a rule to ban the use of non-compete clauses in all employment agreements. The proposed rule would also require employers to rescind existing non-compete agreements. A number of jurisdiction have already banned or limited the application of non-competes. For example, Virginia and Maryland have banned non-competes for low-wage or hourly employees. Washington, D.C.’s delayed ban on most non-competes went into effect in October 2022.

Salary Transparency. Last year, many states and municipalities have come on-board in regulating how employers advertise for open positions. To close out the year, NY Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law a NY Labor Law amendment that mandates disclosure of salary ranges for open positions, promotions or transfers. The tailwinds are only going to increase this year in many states.

Off-Duty Cannabis Use. As many jurisdiction are increasingly moving toward cannabis legalization, they are also putting in limitations on employers’ ability to discipline or refuse to hire employees based on their off-duty use of cannabis. Expect these statutes and their exceptions to be tested in the courts in 2023.

At-Will Employment. The New York City Council closed out the year with a proposed ordinance to significantly limit the at-will nature of the traditional employer-employee relationship. In general, the proposal calls for precluding employers from discharging any employee without “just cause” or a “bona fide economic reason”. In 2021, NYC already largely eliminated at-will employment for fast-food industry workers. In Philadelphia, car parking industry workers cannot be discharged without being provided progressive discipline first. Targeted or wholesale efforts to restructure employment at-will are likely to pick up steam in the year ahead.

In the Weeds: NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission Issues New Guidance

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On September 9, 2022, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (“NJ-CRC”) issued further guidance to employers in connection with the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement Assistance and Market Modernization Act (known as CREAMMA) signed into law on February 21, 2021. As New Jersey employers are well aware, under this law, “[n]o employer shall refuse to hire or employ any person or shall discharge from employment or take any adverse action against any employee with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or other privileges of employment because that person does or does not smoke, vape, aerosolize or otherwise use cannabis items.” N.J. Stat. § 24:6I-52. Certain federal contractors are exempted from this law when compliance with the law would result in a provable adverse impact on an employer subject to the requirements of a federal contract. N.J. Stat. § 24:6I-52(b)(1)(b).

While employers are allowed to conduct drug screenings including in pre-employment, when there is a reasonable suspicion of marijuana use or impairment while on the job or following a work-related accident, CREAMMA prohibits employers from taking “any adverse action . . . solely due to the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s bodily fluid from engaging in conduct permitted under [CREAMMA].” N.J. Stat § 24:6I-52 (emphasis added). A bill introduced in January 2022, A890, is seeking to amend CREAMMA in order to provide further safe harbor to employers to take adverse action against employees under certain circumstances, including for employers at recognized critical infrastructure facilities and construction sites as well as “when the employee is a law enforcement officer and the duties of the employment require the possession of a firearm.”

The new guidance is interim in nature until the NJ-CRC is able to prescribe standards for Workplace Impairment Recognition Expert (“WIRE”) certification with which it is charged under CREAMMA. Similar to New York guidance, it sets forth the steps that the employer must have in place in order to demonstrate physical signs or other evidence of impairment sufficient to support an adverse employment action against an employee for suspected cannabis use or impairment during an employee’s prescribed work hours employers, which may include:

  • having  a designated staff member or third-party contractor sufficiently trained to recognize signs of impairment and to complete the suggested Reasonable Suspicion Observation Report or an employer-created equivalent thereof, and
  • Establishing and following standard operating procedures in completing such a report.

In performing its impairment assessment, an employer may use a cognitive impairment test, a scientifically valid, objective, consistently repeatable, standardized automated test of an employee’s impairment, and/or an ocular scan, as physical signs or evidence to establish reasonable suspicion of cannabis use or impairment at work.

Key Takeaways to NJ Employers

  • Document, document, document. A positive drug screening test alone is insufficient to support an adverse employment action, at the pre-employment stage or during employment. However, a positive screening test plus evidence-based documentation of physical signs of impairment or use during work hours can be used as a basis for adverse action. Thus, establishing and following protocols and documenting all steps taken is critical in this process.
  • Pre-employment screening while permitted is of little utility.  CREAMMA protects potential job applicants for off-hours use of recreational marijuana; a positive result for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) at the time of pre-employment screening is an insufficient reason to refuse to hire (an adverse action), absent visible and objective signs of impairment at the time of application.
  • Zero-tolerance drug policies may still be permitted under certain circumstances.  For certain federal contractors, including     those subject Department of Transportation drug testing requirements may be permitted to maintain their existence screening and exclusion protocols. 

The application of CREAMMA is currently being tested in New Jersey in the case captioned Zanetich v. Walmart Stores East, Inc., et al., 1:22-cv-05387-CPO-EAP, originally filed in state court in June of  this year and successfully removed by the Defendants to the District of New Jersey in September. The complaint alleges that the named plaintiff’s job offer was rescinded prior to start of employment with the Defendants as an asset protection associate after testing positive for THC on a pre-employment drug screen in February 2022.

As always, Woltz & Folkinshteyn, P.C. welcomes your questions about this and any other employment concerns that you may have.

Pay Transparency Law Coming to New York State

  • Compensation or a range of compensation, with range of compensation a defined term meaning  “salary or hourly range of compensation for a job, promotion, or transfer  opportunity that the employer in good faith believes to be accurate at the time of the posting of an advertisement for such opportunity”;
  • Job description (if available), and
  • A general description of other forms of compensation and benefits.

While we await further developments, New York employers of all sizes can take the following proactive steps to minimize their overall pay equity risk and otherwise prepare for this law:


The hotline is staffed with pro bono attorneys affiliated with the New York State Bar Association and other attorney organizations.  

NYS Enacts Several Laws Affecting Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

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Bill No.In BriefEffective DateEnacted
S5870Amends existing law to prohibit release of an employee’s personnel file in retaliation for an employee’s complaints about employer’s discriminatory practices.March 16, 2022Yes
S812aCreates a toll-free, confidential workplace sexual harassment hotline.  Requires employers to post and otherwise advise employees about the existence of this hotline in employer-provided materials.July 14, 2022Yes
S3295aAmends New York Human Rights Law to apply to all public employees and officials, including any elected official, of the New York state executive, legislature, or judiciary, including persons serving in any judicial capacity, and persons serving on the staff of any elected official in New York State.March 16, 2022Yes
S738Known as the Let Survivors Speak Act, this law would amend the General Obligation Law to prohibit settlement agreements in matters involving discrimination, harassment or retaliation from containing inter alia (1) non-disparagement or non-disclosure clauses, (2) clauses calling for forfeiture of all or part of consideration for violation of non-disclosure or non-disparagement clauses, or (3) clauses requiring any affirmative statement, assertion, or disclaimer by the complainant that the complainant was not in fact subject to unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, or retaliation.Passed by Senate.  Not yet passed by Assembly.No
S766Amends General Obligations Law to prohibit releases or settlement agreements between employees (or general contractors) and employers to contain a “no rehire” clause.”  The amendment does not preclude anemployee and employer from agreeing to terminate an existing employment relationship as part of a settlement of a claim.Passed by Senate.  Not yet passed by Assembly.No
S566aExtends the statute of limitations for administrative claims resulting from unlawful discriminatory practices to three years.Passed by Senate. Not yet passed by Assembly.  Effective 90 days after enactment.No
S849aExtends the statute of limitations for harassment in the workplace to six years under the NYHRL.Passed by Senate. Not yet passed by Assembly.  Effective 60 days after enactment.No

Next Steps

Employers should audit their current investigative practices concerning all allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace. They should ensure that appropriate protective measures are being taken during investigations, proper interview and documentation practices are being followed, and confidentiality, due process, and non-retaliation obligations are upheld. 

This trend of increasing protections for employees victimized by sexual harassment and assault in the workplace sends a strong signal to business owners and human resources professionals to carefully audit their internal practices, business communications, and employee contracts. 

Employers should also review and update any employee policies, handbooks, communications, and employee contracts, for prohibited waivers, obligations and representations concerning sexual harassment investigations and prohibitions.   This will include updating your sexual harassment training training materials, as well as reviewing your current sexual harassment policy, individual employee contracts, non-disclosure agreements, separation agreement templates, and any pre-employment arbitration agreements. 

Making 2022 Easier: Leave Administration in Nine Simple Steps!