Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Committee Bill No. 106

January Session, 2015

 

LCO No. 2963

 

*02963SB00106LAB*

Referred to Committee on LABOR AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES

 

Introduced by:

 

(LAB)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING RETALIATION AGAINST IMMIGRANT WORKERS.

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

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2015) (a) As used in this section:

(1) "Employee" means any individual engaged in service to an employer in a business of his employer;

(2) "Employer" means an individual engaged in business who has employees, including the state and any political subdivision thereof; and

(3) "Unfair immigration-related practice" means any discriminatory practice directed at an employee who has immigrated to this country, including, but not limited to:

(A) Requesting that the employee provide additional or different documents than are required under Section 1324a(b) of Title 8 of the United States Code, or refusing to accept documents provided by the employee pursuant to said section that reasonably appear to be genuine;

(B) Checking or threatening to check the employment authorization status of an employee at a time or in a manner not required under Section 1324a(b) of Title 8 of the United States Code;

(C) Filing or threatening to file a false police report against an employee; and

(D) Contacting or threatening to contact immigration authorities to report an employee.

(b) No employer shall engage in any unfair immigration-related practice against an employee for the purpose of retaliating against such employee for exercising any right afforded to him or her pursuant to the provisions of chapters 557 to 559, inclusive, 561, 563a, 566a, 567, 568 or 571 of title 31 of the general statutes, including, but not be limited to:

(1) Filing a complaint or informing any individual of an employer's alleged violation of any provision of said chapters, provided such complaint or disclosure was made in good faith;

(2) Seeking information regarding whether an employer is in compliance with any provision of said chapters; and

(3) Informing an individual of his or her potential rights and remedies under any provision of said chapters, or assisting such individual in asserting his or her rights or seeking remedies under any provision of said chapters.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent an employer from complying with the requirements of state or federal statutes, rules or regulations, case law or rules of self-regulatory organizations as defined in section 36b-3 of the general statutes.

(d) Engaging in an unfair immigration-related practice against an employee within ninety days after the employee exercises any right afforded to him or her pursuant to the provisions of chapters 557 to 559, inclusive, 561, 563a, 566a, 567, 568 or 571 of title 31 of the general statutes shall create a rebuttable presumption of having done so in retaliation for the exercise of those rights.

(e) Any employee may file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner alleging violation of subsection (b) of this section, not later than one hundred eighty days after such violation occurs. Upon receipt of such complaint the commissioner shall investigate such complaint and may hold a hearing in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes. After the hearing, the commissioner shall send each party a written copy of his or her decision.

(f) If the commissioner finds an employer has violated subsection (b) of this section, the commissioner may (1) levy against the employer a civil penalty of up to five hundred dollars for the first violation and one thousand dollars for each subsequent violation, (2) suspend the license of such employer to transact such business in this state for a period of not more than thirty days for a first violation and not more than ninety days for each subsequent violation, and (3) award an employee aggrieved by such violation all appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement to his or her previous job, payment of back wages, reestablishment of employee benefits or any other remedies the commissioner may deem appropriate.

(g) Any party aggrieved by the commissioner's decision under subsection (f) of this section may appeal the decision to the Superior Court in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54 of the general statutes.

Sec. 2. Section 31-68 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

(a) If any employee is paid by his or her employer less than the minimum fair wage or overtime wage to which he or she is entitled under sections 31-58, 31-59 and 31-60 or by virtue of a minimum fair wage order he [may] or she shall recover, in a civil action, (1) twice the full amount of such minimum wage or overtime wage less any amount actually paid to him or her by the employer, with costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court, [and any] or (2) if the employer establishes that the employer had a good faith belief that the underpayment of such wages was in compliance with the law, the full amount of such minimum wage or overtime wage less any amount actually paid to him or her by the employer, with costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court. Any agreement between [him] an employee and his or her employer to work for less than such minimum fair wage or overtime wage shall be no defense to such action. The commissioner may collect the full amount of unpaid minimum fair wages or unpaid overtime wages to which an employee is entitled under said sections or order, as well as interest calculated in accordance with the provisions of section 31-265 from the date the wages should have been received, had they been paid in a timely manner. In addition, the commissioner may bring any legal action necessary to recover twice the full amount of the unpaid minimum fair wages or unpaid overtime wages to which the employee is entitled under said sections or under an order, and the employer shall be required to pay the costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court. The commissioner shall distribute any wages or interest collected pursuant to this section to the employee or in accordance with the provisions of subsection (b) of this section.

(b) All wages collected by the commissioner for an employee whose whereabouts are unknown to the commissioner shall be held by the commissioner for three months and thereafter the commissioner may, in his discretion, pay the same, on application, to the husband or wife or, if none, to the next of kin of such employee. As a condition of such payment, the commissioner or his authorized representative shall require proof of the relationship of the claimant and the execution of a bond of indemnity and a receipt for such payment. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3-60b, any such wages held by the commissioner for two years without being claimed shall escheat to the state, subject to the provisions of sections 3-66a to 3-71a, inclusive.

Sec. 3. Section 31-72 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2015):

When any employer fails to pay an employee wages in accordance with the provisions of sections 31-71a to 31-71i, inclusive, or fails to compensate an employee in accordance with section 31-76k or where an employee or a labor organization representing an employee institutes an action to enforce an arbitration award which requires an employer to make an employee whole or to make payments to an employee welfare fund, such employee or labor organization [may] shall recover, in a civil action, (1) twice the full amount of such wages, with costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court, [and any] or (2) if the employer establishes that the employer had a good faith belief that the underpayment of wages was in compliance with law, the full amount of such wages or compensation, with costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court. Any agreement between [him] an employee and his or her employer for payment of wages other than as specified in said sections shall be no defense to such action. The Labor Commissioner may collect the full amount of any such unpaid wages, payments due to an employee welfare fund or such arbitration award, as well as interest calculated in accordance with the provisions of section 31-265 from the date the wages or payment should have been received, had payment been made in a timely manner. In addition, the Labor Commissioner may bring any legal action necessary to recover twice the full amount of unpaid wages, payments due to an employee welfare fund or arbitration award, and the employer shall be required to pay the costs and such reasonable attorney's fees as may be allowed by the court. The commissioner shall distribute any wages, arbitration awards or payments due to an employee welfare fund collected pursuant to this section to the appropriate person.

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

Section 1

October 1, 2015

New section

Sec. 2

October 1, 2015

31-68

Sec. 3

October 1, 2015

31-72

Statement of Purpose:

To prevent an employer from engaging in unfair immigration-related practices as retribution for an individual exercising his or her rights under title 31 of the general statutes and to allow employees or labor organizations to recover twice the full amount of damages associated with an employer's failure to pay wages.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]

Co-Sponsors:

SEN. LOONEY, 11th Dist.

S.B. 106