New Connecticut law makes wage infractions more dangerous

by John Herrington

A new Connecticut law taking effect October 1 requires courts to award double damages plus court costs and attorneys’ fees for most employee wage claims.

Under the new law—Public Act 15-86, the “Act Concerning an Employer’s Failure to Pay Wages”—a court must award, as a baseline default, double damages plus court costs and attorneys’ fees if it finds that an employer has (1) failed to pay an employee’s wages, accrued fringe benefits, or arbitration award or (2) failed to meet the law’s requirements for an employee’s minimum wage or overtime rates.

Before the new law, which applies to all Connecticut employers, courts consistently held that awards for double damages and attorneys’ fees required the employee to establish facts sufficient to support a finding of bad faith, arbitrariness, or unreasonableness by the employer. Under the new law, that burden shifts from employees to employers.

An employer will be able to avoid double damages only if it can establish that it acted in good faith, but the law doesn’t define what would constitute the type of “good faith” required.

For more information on Connecticut’s new wage law, see the August issue of Connecticut Employment Law Letter.

John Herrington is an attorney with Carlton Fields Jorden Burt in Hartford, Connecticut. He can be reached at jherrington@cfjblaw.com.

About Connecticut Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from Connecticut Employment Law Letter, and written by attorneys at the law firm of Carlton Fields LLP. CONNECTICUT EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER does not attempt to offer solutions to individual problems but rather seeks to provide information about current developments in Connecticut law. It is provided as a means of conveying accurate, but general, information. It is not intended as legal advice, which must always be tailored to individual needs and particular circumstances. Questions about individual problems should be addressed to the attorney of your choice. The State Bar of Connecticut does not designate attorneys as board certified in employment, and we do not claim certification in any listed area. Contact the attorneys at Carlton Fields LLP.
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