On July 2, 2015, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law Public Act No. 15-196, entitled An Act Concerning Pay Equity and Fairness. The new law is intended to end pay secrecy, and specifically bars employers from:
1. Prohibiting an employee from disclosing, inquiring about, or discussing the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee;
2. Requiring an employee to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny the employee his or her right to disclose, inquire about, or discuss the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee; or
3. Discharging, disciplining, discriminating against, retaliating against or otherwise penalizing any employee who discloses, inquires about, or discusses the amount of his or her wages or the wages of another employee.
Employees who believe their employer has violated the law can sue for compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs, and equitable relief. The statute of limitations is two years from the date of the violation.
The “employees” protected by the new law are “any individual[s] employed or permitted to work by an employer.” Its coverage is therefore broader that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which has been interpreted to prohibit a similar ban on pay discussions, because the NLRA excludes certain managerial and supervisory employees from its protections. Connecticut’s law does not.
The new law takes effect immediately. Employers would be well advised to review their policies, contracts, pay communications, and other documents to ensure that they do not ban or limit employee discussions regarding pay or otherwise restrict the activities protected by the new law.