Articles Posted in Labor & Employment Law

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At issue was the extent of an employer’s right to a credit against its obligation to pay workers’ compensation benefits for an injured employee who has recovered damages from a third-party tortfeasor that caused the employee’s injuries. Under an amendment to Conn. Stat. 31-293(a), even if the employer is owed more than is recovered in the third-party action, the employee retains one-third of the proceeds for her sole benefit. In dispute was whether the employer has a right to a setoff against its obligation to pay for post-judgment workers’ compensation benefits until those benefits exceed the one-third portion that the employee received from the proceeds of the third-party action. The Compensation Review Board affirmed the decision of the workers’ compensation commissioner that the defendant employer was entitled to a “moratorium,” or the credit afforded the employer against any later arising benefits in the amount of any proceeds the employee received in the third-party action. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the employee’s one-third portion is not subject to the moratorium because the application of the moratorium to the one-third reduction would conflict with and undermine the purpose of P.A. 11-205, which amended section 31-293(a). Moreover, the legislature intended for the employee alone to retain the benefit of the one-third reduction. View "Callaghan v. Car Parts International, LLC" on Justia Law

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Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb permitted Plaintiff to file a claim with the Workers’ Compensation Commission alleging that the City of New Haven had violated Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-290a by wrongfully terminating his employment in retaliation for bringing a workers’ compensation claim, notwithstanding that a related issue had previously been decided by the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration in an arbitration proceeding brought pursuant to Plaintiff’s collective bargaining agreement. The Compensation Review Board determined that, under section 31-51bb, Plaintiff’s claim brought before the Commission pursuant to section 31-290a was not barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 31-51bb permitted Plaintiff to file a claim with the Commission pursuant to section 31-290a under the circumstances of this case. View "Williams v. City of New Haven" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the trial court rendering judgment in favor of Plaintiff on its claim of unjust enrichment. On appeal, Defendant argued that Plaintiff’s unjust enrichment claim was barred by collateral estoppel, that Plaintiff’s recovery was precluded by law and the terms of an agreement between the parties, the trial court’s jury instructions were improper, and the trial court erred in excluding certain evidence. In affirming, the Court held that many of Defendant’s arguments were unpreserved, inadequately briefed, or both, and that Defendant was not entitled to relief on any of his assignments of error. View "MacDermid, Inc. v. Leonetti" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether all state employees, respective of when they retired, were entitled to have their benefits recalculated in accordance with Longley v. State Employees Retirement Commission, 931 A.2d 890 (Conn. 2007). A two-count complaint brought (1) an administrative appeal from the decision of the State Employees Retirement Commission denying a petition for declaratory ruling filed by Plaintiffs, and (2) a declaratory judgment action on behalf of a class, represented by Plaintiffs, of all state employees who retired and began collecting pensions before October 2, 2001. The trial court ruled in favor of Plaintiffs in the administrative appeal but denied relief for the class. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part and remanded the judgment with direct to render judgment for the Commission on the administrative appeal, holding (1) Plaintiffs’ claims for recalculation of benefits were time barred; and (2) neither Plaintiffs not the class were entitled to relief. View "Bouchard v. State Employees Retirement Commission" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether individuals engaged in door-to-door sales of vacuums provided by Plaintiff should be classified as independent contractors or as Plaintiff’s employees for purposes of the Unemployment Compensation Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgments of the trial court concluding that the individuals were Plaintiff’s employees on the ground that Plaintiff failed to establish that the individuals were “customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, profession or business of the same nature as that involved in the service performed” for Plaintiff within the meaning of part C of the ABC test, codified at Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222(a)(1)(B)(ii)(I)(II) and (III). Therefore, the trial court properly dismissed Plaintiff’s appeals from administrative decisions that Defendants were properly designated as Plaintiff’s employees and that Plaintiff was liable for contributions based on their wages. View "Kirby of Norwich v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act" on Justia Law

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At issue in this appeal was the contours of the proof necessary for an employee to establish an employer’s subjective intent to create a dangerous situation with a “substantial certainty of injury” to the employee for purposes of avoiding application of the exclusive remedy provision of the Workers’ Compensation Act. The Supreme Court held that, under the circumstances of this case and in the absence of any evidence demonstrating the hallmarks typical of employer misconduct, Plaintiff failed to establish a genuine issue of material fact with respect to whether Defendants subjectively believed that Plaintiff’s injuries from the use of a particular excavator were substantially certain to occur. View "Lucenti v. Laviero" on Justia Law

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Defendant, the City of New Haven, was entitled to a new trial on this action for indemnification. Plaintiff, a police officer with the New Haven Police Department, was acquitted of sexual assault and unlawful restraint charges for conduct that allegedly occurred during the course of his employment. When Defendant declined to reimburse Plaintiff for economic loss sustained as a result of the prosecution in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-39a, Plaintiff brought this indemnification action. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial court erred in prohibiting Defendant from using the complainants’ prior testimony, and the error was not harmless. View "Maio v. City of New Haven" on Justia Law

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At issue was how employers must determine the hourly wage - or regular rate - for retail employees whose pay fluctuates weekly because they receive commissions for the purposes of calculating overtime pay. Defendants in this case calculated Plaintiffs’ overtime pay using a method commonly known as the fluctuating workweek method. Plaintiffs brought this action claiming that Defendants’ use of the fluctuating method to calculate their regular rate for purposes of determining their overtime pay rate violated Connecticut wage laws. The district court certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered by holding that, although Connecticut wage laws do not prohibit the use of the fluctuating method for employees such as Plaintiffs, the state Department of Labor fair minimum wage order governing the calculation of overtime pay for mercantile employees does. View "Williams v. General Nutrition Centers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Genovese v. Gallo Wine Merchants, Inc., 628 A.2d 946 (Conn. 1993), which held that, under Con. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb, a factual determination made in a final and binding arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement does not have a preclusive effect in a subsequent action claiming a constitutional or statutory violation, is still good law. Plaintiff brought the present action alleging that her termination was in retaliation for bringing a previous action against Defendant alleging sex discrimination and for engaging in protected speech. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the factual underpinnings of the claims had been decided against her by the board of mediation in arbitration proceedings. The trial court denied the motion, citing Genovese. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining Defendant’s invitation to overrule Genovese. View "Spiotti v. Wolcott" on Justia Law

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Under the Municipal Employees’ Retirement Act (Act) a retiree cannot continue to collect a pension while reemployed in any full-time position with a participating municipality. In 1991, Plaintiff retired from his position as a firefighter with the town of East Haven. Plaintiff was awarded a disability pension through his membership in the municipal employees retirement system. From 1997 until 2007, Plaintiff served as mayor of East Haven. During that time, the State Employees Retirement Commission and the retirement services division of the Office of the State Comptroller (collectively, the agencies) determined that Plaintiff could continue to receive his retirement pension under the Act. However, when Plaintiff was again elected mayor in 2011, the agencies concluded that they had previously misconstrued the Act and suspended Plaintiff’s pension. The Commission and the trial court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the agencies properly constructed the reemployment and disability pension provisions of the Act; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiff did not rely to his detriment on the agencies’ previous interpretation of the Act and that the Commission did not violate Plaintiff’s equal protection and due process rights. View "Maturo v. State Employees Retirement Commission" on Justia Law