Sep 15, 2011

New Connecticut Employment Laws Effective Oct. 1

Connecticut Prohibits Gender Identity Discrimination

Effective October 1, 2011, Connecticut employers with three or more employees will be prohibited from discriminating against an applicant or employee based on gender identity or expression. The Connecticut law defines “gender identity or expression” as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” Gender-related identity may be established by the assertion of the individual, care or treatment of the gender-related identity, medical history or other evidence that the gender-related identity is a sincerely held element of a person’s core identity. The law protects transgendered people who are not undergoing gender reassignment surgery, and who do not intend to do so, as well as those who have completed such surgery or who are in the process of having the surgery.

One exception to the new law is the exemption of religious corporations or entities “with respect to the employment of individuals to perform work connected with the carrying on by such corporation . . . of its activities, or with respect to matters of discipline, faith, internal organization or ecclesiastical rule, custom or law” established by the religious entity.

Employers with employees in Connecticut should include gender identity in their EEO policies and literature and add gender identity issues to their EEO training.

Connecticut Limits When an Employer May Require an Employee’s Credit Report

Also effective on October 1, 2011 is a Connecticut law that limits an employer’s ability to require an applicant or employee to provide consent for a credit report. The following are the only situations in which an employer is permitted to request an applicant’s or employee’s credit report:

  • the employer is a financial institution as defined by the statute;
  • the employee’s credit report is required by law;
  • the employer believes the employee has engaged in specific activity that constitutes a violation of the law related to the employee’s employment, and
  • a credit report is substantially related to the employee’s current or potential job or the employer has a bona fide purpose for requesting a credit report that is substantially job-related and is disclosed in writing to the applicant or employee.

The law defines “substantially related to the employee’s current or potential job” as meaning that the information contained in the credit report is related to the current or potential position because the position (a) is managerial and involves setting the direction or control of a business unit, (b) involves access to customers’, employees’ or employers’ personal or financial information, (c) involves a fiduciary responsibility to the employer such as authority to issue payments or collect debts, (d) provides an expense account or corporate debit/credit card, (e) provides access to confidential or proprietary business information or information including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, process or trade secret, or (f) involves access to the employer’s nonfinancial assets valued at $2,500 or more.

Connecticut employers should review the exceptions to the law to determine whether the limitation applies to them and should revise their policies and practices accordingly.

If you have any specific questions about these new laws, please contact your employment counsel at Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP.

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