Connecticut has amended its human rights law to broaden coverage to all employers—regardless of their employee count—and to add domestic violence protections. The changes take effect on October 1, 2022.
The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA), part of the state’s human rights law, has been expanded to cover all employers, instead of those with three or more employees. In broad terms, CFEPA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a protected characteristic, for example, disability, marital status, and race. The list of protected characteristics now includes status as a victim of domestic violence.
Note that CFEPA also requires employers to provide pregnancy-related accommodations, unless the accommodation would cause an undue hardship. Just as with the discrimination provisions, the accommodation requirement now applies to all employers regardless of size.
Employers who are newly subject to CFEPA will need to display the “Discrimination is Illegal” poster and the pregnancy discrimination poster.
Domestic Violence Leave
CFEPA now requires employers to provide domestic violence leave for a “reasonable” amount of time, though the law doesn’t define reasonable. This leave requirement applies to all employers regardless of size.
Employees can take leave to:
- Seek treatment for themselves or their child for injuries from domestic violence.
- Obtain services from a domestic violence agency or rape crisis center.
- Obtain counseling for domestic violence, including for their child who is a victim of domestic violence.
- Relocate or take other action to increase their safety from future domestic violence.
- Participate in legal proceedings related to domestic violence.
Notably, the law broadly defines domestic violence to include non-physical acts, such as stalking and coercive control.
Employers can require the employee to provide reasonable documentation to confirm their need for leave. Employers are required to keep information related to the employee’s domestic violence confidential, unless required by law or they are otherwise authorized to release it.
Note that Connecticut already has a law that requires employers with three or more employees to provide up to 12 days of leave per year to employees who are victims of family violence. If you have three or more employees, family violence leave can run concurrently with domestic violence leave if the employee’s need for leave qualifies for both. However, a “reasonable” leave for domestic violence could extend beyond the 12-day cap on leave for family violence.
- Add a domestic violence leave policy to your handbook.
- Ensure that your equal employment policy includes status as a victim of domestic violence.
- Ensure that you have an adequate pregnancy accommodations policy.
- Periodically check the CHRO’s publications webpage for an updated “Discrimination is Illegal” poster and any new domestic violence required postings.
- Periodically check the CT DOL labor posters webpage for an updated pregnancy discrimination poster.