FAQs

Q?

What does it mean to be “disabled?

A.

The American with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits your employer from discriminating against you. Employers with more than 15 employees must follow the Act. A disability for the purposes of the ADA is a physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s ability to perform a major life activity. Temporary illnesses are not covered. You are considered covered if, with your disability, you are capable of performing the essential duties of the job, with or without a reasonable accommodation by the employer.

Q?

What rights do I have under the Family and Medical Leave Act?

A.

Federal law entitles eligible employees to 12 weeks of unpaid leave within a 12 month period, with continuation of group health insurance coverage. You are entitled to unpaid leave for the birth of a child, an adoption or foster child placed in your home, to care for a spouse, child or parent with a serious health condition, a serious health condition of your own, or a situation arising from a family member on covered “active duty” with the military.

Q?

What is the law pertaining to equal pay for men and women?

A.

Equal pay for equal work is the standard, except as it applies to merit, seniority, quantity or quality of work, or factors other than gender.

Q?

Is it illegal to bully an employee? What is a hostile work environment?

A.

The law does not require that your employer be nice to you, but it does require that all employees must be treated the same. A hostile work environment exists when treatment is severe and pervasive, and interferes with your ability to perform your job.

Q?

What is a whistleblower?

A.

A whistleblower is someone who has knowledge of corruption, unethical practices, violation of laws, mismanagement, gross waste of funds, abuse of authority, or danger to the public safety occurring and who reports such knowledge. Connecticut law protects whistleblowers from retaliation or threats of retaliation.

Any employee of a private company who speaks out about matters of public concern is not necessarily protected. If you think your employer is retaliating against you for your actions, you should speak to an attorney.

Q?

What kinds of protection does an at-will employee have?

A.

State and federal laws provides protections such as anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-retaliation laws, minimum wage and overtime, family and medical leave , and laws protecting “whistleblowers.”

Q?

What rights do employees have in the workplace?

A.

Usually, employment is “at will,” meaning that an employee can be terminated, or have hours, pay and responsibilities changed, as long as it’s not for a reason prohibited by law, such as discrimination. An employer is prohibited from terminating, harassing, or treating an employee differently based on race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation. Individuals who have an employment contract or are part of a union may have additional protections.

Q?

What is employment discrimination?

A.

An employer cannot refuse to hire, harass, terminate, or otherwise treat an employee differently because of a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex/gender (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, or disabilities.

Q?

What should an employee do if s/he thinks s/he is being unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of one of the reasons listed above?

A.

Speaking to an attorney early in the process is important. There are strict deadlines about bringing complaints of discrimination, usually within 180 days of the adverse employment action.

Q?

What should an employee do if s/he thinks s/he is being sexually harassed?

A.

It’s imperative to discuss your situation with an attorney, in order to verify whether something is considered sexual harassment. The harassment must be of a sexual nature or based on gender, it must be unwelcome, and it must affect your pay, benefits, work conditions or working environment. It can include unwanted touching, obscene jokes or threats to your job, or anything which affects the conditions of your employment or creates a hostile work environment.