Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 5473

February Session, 2018

 

LCO No. 2075

 

*02075_______JUD*

Referred to Committee on JUDICIARY

 

Introduced by:

 

(JUD)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING CAPTIVE AUDIENCE MEETINGS.

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

Section 1. (NEW) (Effective October 1, 2018) (a) As used in this section:

(1) "Employer" means a person engaged in business who has more than one employee, including the state and any political subdivision of the state;

(2) "Employee" means any person engaged in service to an employer in a business of such employer;

(3) "Political matters" means matters relating to: Elections for political office, political parties, legislation, regulation and the decision to join or support any political party or political, civic, community, fraternal or labor organization; and

(4) "Religious matters" means matters relating to religious affiliation and practice and the decision to join or support any religious organization or association.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (f) of this section, no employer, or agent, representative or designee of such employer, shall require an employee to attend an employer-sponsored meeting with the employer or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate the employer's opinion concerning political or religious matters, except that an employer or its agent, representative or designee may communicate to an employee any information concerning political or religious matters that the employer is required by law to communicate, but only to the extent of such legal requirement.

(c) No employer, or agent, representative or designee of such employer, shall discharge, discipline or penalize, or threaten to discharge, discipline or penalize, any employee because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, makes a good-faith report, orally or in writing, of a violation or a suspected violation of the provisions of this section. The provisions of this subsection shall not apply when the employee knows that such report is false.

(d) Any employee who is discharged, disciplined or penalized in violation of the provisions of this section may bring a civil action, not later than ninety days after the date of the alleged violation, in the superior court for the judicial district where the violation is alleged to have occurred or where the employer has its principal office. The court may award a prevailing employee all appropriate relief, including rehiring or reinstatement of the employee to the employee's former position, back pay and reestablishment of any employee benefits to which the employee would otherwise have been eligible if such violation had not occurred. The court shall award a prevailing employee treble damages, together with reasonable attorney's fees and costs.

(e) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit an employee's right to bring a common law cause of action against an employer for wrongful termination or to diminish or impair the rights of a person under any collective bargaining agreement.

(f) Nothing in this section shall prohibit: (1) A religious organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such religious organization or to participate in any communications with such religious organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such religious organization's religious beliefs, practices or tenets; (2) a political organization from requiring its employees to attend a meeting sponsored by such political organization or to participate in any communications with such political organization or its agent, representative or designee, the primary purpose of which is to communicate such political organization's political tenets or purposes; (3) an institution of higher education, or any agent, representative or designee of such institution, from meeting with or participating in any communications with its employees concerning political or religious matters that are part of the regular coursework or any symposia or academic program at such institution; (4) casual conversations between employees, between an employee and an employer or between an employee and an agent, representative or designee of an employer, provided participation in such conversations is not required and such conversations occur in the normal course of the employee's duties; or (5) a requirement limited to the employer's managerial and supervisory employees.

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

Section 1

October 1, 2018

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To prohibit an employer from coercing employees into attending or participating in meetings sponsored by the employer concerning the employer's views on political or religious matters.

[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.]