Substitute House Bill No. 6657

Public Act No. 01-147

AN ACT PROHIBITING EMPLOYMENT EXPLOITATION OF IMMIGRANT LABOR.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 31-4 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The commissioner may appoint, as special agents, [of the bureau,] competent persons, familiar with the language of [alien] non-English-speaking laborers, who shall inform such laborers, either personally or through printed matter in their language, as to their right of contract under the laws of the state, and shall prevent illegal advantage being taken of such laborers by reason of their [ignorance] lack of knowledge, credulity or [want of knowledge of] lack of proficiency in the English language. The appointment of such agents shall not be permanent but simply to meet the exigencies of each case as presented to the commissioner, and they shall be paid the same compensation as is paid other agents. [of the bureau. The total expense incurred in any one year under the provisions of this section shall not exceed three hundred dollars.] Any person who obtains or receives money due immigrant laborers or laborers [ignorant of] who lack proficiency in the English language and retains any part thereof for [his] such person's own use without giving adequate consideration therefor shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars or imprisoned not more than one year or both.

(b) The commissioner shall produce printed material describing the rights of immigrant laborers or laborers who lack proficiency in the English language as employees under part III of chapter 557, chapters 558 and 567, and the commissioner shall provide such information to such laborers when they apply for benefits under chapter 567 or when they seek compliance with any provision under part III of chapter 557 or chapter 558. The commissioner shall, within available funds, make such information available to the public. The commissioner shall prevent illegal advantage being taken of such laborers by reason of their lack of information about their rights, credulity or lack of proficiency in the English language. The languages used in such printed material, in addition to Spanish and French, may be those languages determined by the commissioner to be spoken by the primary groups of immigrant laborers in the state.

Sec. 2. Section 31-69a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

In addition to the penalties provided in [part III of] chapter 557, this chapter and chapter 568, any employer, officer, agent or other person who violates any provision [of part III] of chapter 557, this chapter or subsection (g) of section 31-288, shall be liable to the Labor Department for a civil penalty of three hundred dollars for each violation of said chapters and for each violation of subsection (g) of section 31-288. The Attorney General, upon complaint of the Labor Commissioner, shall institute a civil action to recover such civil penalty. Any amount recovered shall be deposited in the General Fund and credited to a separate nonlapsing appropriation to the Labor Department, for other current expenses, and may be used by the Labor Department to enforce the provisions [of part III] of chapter 557, this chapter and subsection (g) of section 31-288 and to implement the provisions of section 31-4, as amended by this act.

Sec. 3. Section 31-226a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No employer shall discharge, discipline, penalize or in any manner discriminate against any employee because the employee has filed a claim or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under this chapter, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding or because of the exercise by such employee on behalf of himself or others of any right afforded by this chapter.

(b) Any employee who believes that [he] such employee has been discharged, disciplined, penalized or otherwise discriminated against by any person in violation of this section may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner alleging violation of the provisions of subsection (a) of this section. Upon receipt of any such complaint, the commissioner shall hold a hearing. After the hearing, the commissioner shall send each party a written copy of [his] the commissioner's decision. The commissioner may award the employee all appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement to [his] such employee's previous job, payment of back wages and reestablishment of employee benefits to which [he] such employee otherwise would have been eligible if [he] such employee had not been discharged, disciplined, penalized or discriminated against. Any employee who prevails in such a complaint shall be awarded reasonable attorney's fees and costs. Any party aggrieved by the decision of the commissioner may appeal the decision to the Superior Court in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54.

(c) The commissioner may request the Attorney General to bring an action in the Superior Court for injunctive relief requiring compliance with any award, decision or judgment issued by the commissioner under this section.

Approved July 6, 2001