Connecticut Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower laws of Connecticut applied at the state level

A Summary of Connecticut Whistleblower Laws

Employees in Connecticut can be relieved from work for any reason due to the practice of the employment-at-will doctrine. However, nowadays, there are exceptions to this doctrine, which make it illegal to discharge employees under certain circumstances. Exceptions to this doctrine constitute common law protections and statutory protections. Statutory protections are enacted by Connecticut’s legislature and cover specific subject areas (e.g., workers’ compensation), while common law protections cover cases that are not defined in the statutory protections.

This is a summary of Connecticut Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in Connecticut

Common Law Protections

Connecticut employees can be protected by the state’s public policy, which is recognized as a remedy to the employment-at-will doctrine. This means employers are not allowed to discharge an employee for reasons that violate public policy. To determine if a dismissal of an employee violated public policy, Connecticut courts rely on constitutional and statutory laws that address similar cases. So, for example, if a statute endorses the right to collect workers’ compensation, an employer who retaliates against an employee for exercising this right will be violating public policy.

Statutory Protections Connecticut

General Whistleblower Protection

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Reporting verbally or in writing a violation or suspected violation of federal law, state law, or any other law to a public body.
  • Participating or intending to participate in an investigation, hearing, or inquiry hosted by a public body or court.
  • Reporting child abuse and child neglect incidences.

Also, municipal employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for disclosing issues concerning unethical practices, mismanagement, or abuse of authority by the employer to a public body. Conn. Gen Stat. § 31-51m.

Disclosure of information to Auditors of Public Accounts

No state officer or employee, quasi-public agency officer or employee, officer or employee of a large state contractor, and no appointing authority are allowed to in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for disclosing information concerning corruption, violation of state laws or regulations, gross waste of funds or any other unethical practice to an employee of the Auditors of Public Accounts or the Attorney General, an employee of the state agency or quasi-public agency or an employee of a large state contractor. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 4-61dd.

Discrimination

It is against the law for an employer to discharge, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee or any individual because of the employee’s or individual’s race, color, religion, sex, age, gender, marital status, national origin, ancestry or disability. It is also against the law for an employer to in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for opposing discriminatory practices, filing a complaint, testifying, or participating in a proceeding regarding the state’s discrimination law. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 46a-60.

Family and Medical Leave

It is illegal for an employer to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Exercising rights under the Family and Medical Leave statute.
  • Filing a charge or instituting a proceeding under this statute.
  • Giving or intending to give information related to a proceeding or inquiry under this statute.
  • Opposing practices that are deemed unlawful by this statute.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding or hearing related to this statute.

Conn. Gen Stat. § 31-51pp.

Minimum Wage

Employers are not allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under Connecticut’s minimum wage laws. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-69.

Occupational Safety and Health

Under this statute, employers are required to provide each of their employees with a list of all carcinogenic substances that are produced or used in the manufacturing process and safety instructions related to such substances. It is against the law for an employer to discipline or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a complaint concerning the violation of requirements regarding carcinogenic substances or assisting an authorized person in the investigation of such a complaint. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40c, 31-40d.

Workers’ Compensation

No employer is allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim or exercising his or her rights under this statute. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-290a.

Whistleblower Hotlines in Connecticut

To file a complaint under the discrimination statute, call the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) at 1-800-477-5737.

To file a complaint under the Family and Medical Leave Act and Occupational Safety and Health act, call the Connecticut Labor Commissioner at (860) 263-6000.

To file a complaint under the workers’ compensation act, call the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC) at (860) 493-1500.

To file a complaint under the Disclosure of information to Auditors of Public Accounts statute, call the attorney general at 860-808-5318.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in Connecticut

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, whistleblowers are required to file a lawsuit within 3 years of the retaliation. Conn. Gen. Stat. § 52-577.

General Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblowers are allowed to file a lawsuit after exhausting administrative remedies. Lawsuits should be filed within 90 days of the final administrative determination or within 90 days of the retaliatory action, whichever is later.

Disclosure of information to Auditors of Public Accounts

Employees who suffer retaliation are required to file a complaint with the Chief Human Rights Referee within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

Discrimination

Complaints under this statute should be filed with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) within 180 days of the retaliation.

Workers’ Compensation

Employees who suffer retaliatory action due to exercising their rights under this statute can choose to file a lawsuit or file a complaint with the chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission.

Retaliation and Violation Penalties in Connecticut

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who retaliate against an employee may be ordered by a court to pay back wages to the employee, reestablish the employee’s benefits, reinstate the employee back to the previous job position, pay court costs and attorney fees for the employee. The court can determine more appropriate compensations at its discretion.

Disclosure of information to Auditors of Public Accounts

In addition to compensations awarded to the employee by the court, a contractor may be liable to pay a civil penalty capped at $5000 for each violation and up to a maximum of 20% of the value of the contract.

Discrimination

In addition to compensations awarded to the employee by the court, individuals who discriminate against employees may be found guilty of a class A misdemeanor and may be liable to pay a fine of not less than $1000. In case property is damaged as a result of the violation, violators of this statute may be found guilty of a class D felony and may be liable to pay a fine of not less than $1000.

Minimum Wage

In addition to compensations awarded to the employee by the court, employers who retaliate against employees for exercising their rights under this statute may be liable to pay a fine ranging from $100 to $400. Employers who pay less than the minimum wage may be found guilty of a class D felony and may be liable to pay a fine ranging from $4000 to $10,000 for each violation if the total amount of unpaid wages owed to the employee is more than $2000. However, the amount of fine payable decreases with a decrease in the amount of total wages owed to the employee.

Occupational Safety and Health

In addition to compensations awarded to the employee by the court, violators of this statute may be liable to pay a civil penalty of not more than $1000 for each offense.

Click for an overview of Federal Whistleblower Laws .

More Connecticut Laws

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