Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Committee Bill No. 371

January Session, 2007

 

LCO No. 4989

 

*_____SB00371LABJUD030707____*

Referred to Committee on Labor and Public Employees

 

Introduced by:

 

(LAB)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING WORKPLACE SAFETY.

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

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) As used in this section and sections 2 and 3 of this act:

(1) "Abusive conduct" means conduct or a single act of an employer or employee in the workplace, with malice, that is unrelated to an employer's legitimate business that a reasonable person would find hostile or offensive considering the severity, nature and frequency of the conduct or the severity and egregiousness of the single act. Abusive conduct includes, but is not limited to, (A) repeated infliction of verbal abuse such as the use of derogatory remarks, insults and epithets; (B) verbal or physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating or humiliating; or (C) sabotaging or undermining a person's work performance;

(2) "Abusive workplace" means a workplace where an employee is subjected to abusive conduct that is so severe that it causes physical or psychological harm to the employee;

(3) "Conduct" means all forms of behavior, including acts and omissions of acts;

(4) "Constructive discharge" means abusive conduct (A) that causes the employee to resign, (B) where, prior to resigning, the employee brings to the employer's attention the existence of the abusive conduct, and (C) the employer fails to take reasonable steps to eliminate the abusive conduct;

(5) "Employee" means an individual who is employed by an employer;

(6) "Employer" means any person, firm, business, educational institution, nonprofit agency, corporation, limited liability company, the state, any political subdivision of the state, any governmental agency or any other entity that employs persons;

(7) "Malice" means the desire to see another person suffer psychological, physical or economic harm, without legitimate cause or justification that is displayed by the presence of factors such as outward expressions of hostility, harmful conduct inconsistent with an employer's legitimate business interests, a continuation of harmful, illegitimate conduct after a person requests that it cease or demonstrates outward signs of emotional or physical distress as a result of the conduct, or attempts to exploit a person's known psychological or physical vulnerability;

(8) "Negative employment decision" means a termination, constructive discharge, demotion, unfavorable reassignment, refusal to promote or disciplinary action;

(9) "Physical harm" means the material impairment of a person's physical health or bodily integrity, as documented by a competent physician or supported by competent expert evidence at trial; and

(10) "Psychological harm" means the material impairment of a person's mental health, as documented by a competent psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist, or supported by competent expert evidence at trial.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) No person shall:

(1) Subject an employee to an abusive workplace; or

(2) Retaliate in any manner against an employee because such employee has made a charge that he or she has been subjected to an abusive workplace under this section, or has testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation or proceeding under this section or section 3 of this act, including, but not limited to, the employer's internal investigations or proceedings, arbitration and mediation proceedings and legal actions.

(b) An employer shall be in violation of this section if such employer (1) subjects an employee to an abusive work environment, or (2) has knowledge that any person has subjected an employee of such employer to an abusive work environment and has failed to exercise reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the abusive conduct.

(c) It is an affirmative defense to an action brought against an employer under this section that:

(1) The employer exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct the abusive conduct, and the aggrieved employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of appropriate preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer. Such defense is not available when the abusive conduct culminates in a negative employment decision;

(2) The complaint is based on a negative employment decision that was made consistent with the employer's legitimate business interests, such as a termination or demotion based on an employee's poor performance; or

(3) The complaint is based on the employer's reasonable investigation of potentially illegal or unethical activity.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) (a) A violation of section 2 of this act may be enforced solely by a private right of action. Such action shall be commenced not later than one year after the last act that comprises the alleged abusive conduct.

(b) Where a defendant has been found to have subjected an employee to an abusive workplace in violation of section 2 of this act, the court may enjoin the defendant from engaging in the abusive conduct and may order any other relief that is deemed appropriate including, but not limited to, reinstatement, removal of the offending person from the complainant's work environment, back pay, front pay, medical expenses, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorneys' fees.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2007) Nothing in section 2 or 3 of this act shall be deemed to exempt or relieve any person from any liability, duty, penalty or punishment provided by any other provision of the general statutes.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 2

October 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 3

October 1, 2007

New section

Sec. 4

October 1, 2007

New section

LAB

Joint Favorable C/R

JUD