Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Connecticut Employers May be Liable if They Fail to Prevent Anti-Homosexual Workplace Harassment

Under Connecticut law governing employment discrimination, an employer may be liable to an individual or employee if it "refuse[s] to hire or employ or to bar or to discharge from employment any individual or to discriminate against him in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of the individual’s sexual orientation or civil union status." C.G.S. § 46a-81c (1).  The question recently posed to the Connecticut Supreme Court in Patino v. Birken Manufacturing Co., was whether the mandate that an employer must not discriminate regarding “terms [or] conditions” of employment made an employer liable if it failed to take reasonable steps to protect an employee from workplace harassment/a hostile work environment due to the employee’s sexual orientation.
In reaching its decision, reportedly one of the first state supreme court decisions tackling this issue, the Connecticut Supreme Court concluded it did not matter that the law does not expressly make an employer liable for failing to prevent workplace harassment or remedy hostile work environments targeting an individual because of their sexual orientation.  Rather, the Connecticut Supreme Court, after examining the statute, related state and federal laws and case law, concluded that the phrase “terms, conditions or privileges of employment,” which already is used in many laws to employees from discrimination due to race or gender, has become a special phrase that covers employees facing workplace harassment or a hostile work environment due to protected qualities, such as race or gender. Therefore, because the state legislature used this phrase in the statute making an employer liable for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, the legislature meant to protect employees from – and make an employer liable for – unremedied workplace harassment or hostile work environments.
Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How to Deal with Denial of Long Term Disability Benefits

When appealing a denial of long-term disability benefits, it is important to act fast to develop the information to rebut the reasons the insurer gave to deny the claim.  The relevant period for determining disability is the “elimination period,” which is usually the 180 days after you become disabled.  If you wait too long to do the testing you need for your appeal, the insurer can disregarding the information on grounds that while it may show that you are disabled at the time of the testing, it does not show that you were disabled during the elimination period.    This was demonstrated in the case of Kellyv. Reliance Std. Life Ins. Co., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147133 (D.N.J. Dec. 21, 2011), where the court disregarded the claimant’s cardiac condition in determining if he was disabled because he first received treatment for the condition after the elimination period, even though the condition contributed to his disability during the elimination period.  The case illustrates why it is important to talk to an attorney early in the appeal process so we can develop a comprehensive and timely plan to maximize your chance to get disability benefits.  Other information on appealing disability benefit denials under ERISA and for private plans is on the Employment Law section of our website. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

BPS Attorney To Participate in 3-Day Komen Breast Cancer Walk

This year Attorney Bridget Gallagher, a partner at Brown, Paindiris & Scott, LLP, will be participating in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day walk in Boston.  She and her six other team members will walk a total of 60 miles over the course of three days in order to raise money to help support breast cancer research.  These 3-day walks are annual events and this year will be held fourteen major cities around the country.  Each participant is required to raise $2,300.00 in order to participate in the walk.  The events often draw as many as two thousand participants in each city, resulting in an extraordinary contribution to the fight against breast cancer.  Attorney Gallagher and her team members will walk on July 27, 28 and 29.

Attorney Gallagher will be joined by her dearest college friends, all of whom have participated in an annual girls weekend trip since they graduated in 1991.  This year their usually carefree girls weekend will be replaced by this fundraising event, a big commitment for each of these ladies, all of whom have young children at home.  With the support of their families and friends they will collectively help to raise a significant sum to help support breast cancer research.  The group was inspired to participate in the walk due to the recent diagnosis of their friend and team captain, Beth, mother of four young children, who underwent a double mastectomy this year.  Thankfully she is doing well and they have all been humbled by her enduring strength and positive attitude.

If you wish to help support Attorney Gallagher’s fundraising efforts please click on her home page in order to make a donation, and thank you. (http://www.the3day.org/site/TR/2012/BostonEvent2012?px=6487585&pg=personal&fr_id=1751)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday Liquor Sales: Full Steam Ahead

On Monday May 14, 2012 Governor Dannel Malloy signed into law Public Act 12-17 making Sunday liquor sales legal in the state of Connecticut. Even with the new law, some towns still prohibit the sale of alcohol entirely, and some still ban the sale of liquor on Sundays. Bridgewateris the last “dry” town in Connecticut, and though it is not dry, no alcohol is sold in the town of Easton. Wilton, Connecticut has a town ordinanceprohibiting liquor sales on Sunday, and the town law trumps the new state law. Sunday sales will start this Sunday, May 20, 2012 for stores in those towns that haven’t banned Sunday sales. Individual store owners will decide whether to stay open on Sundays or not.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Connecticut’s “Pet Lemon Law”

Connecticut is a pet-friendly state. In addition to allowing owners of pets to create “pet trusts” to take care of pets if an owner dies, Connecticut also has a “pet lemon law.”  Under the law (C.G.S. § 22-344b), if you purchase a dog or cat from a pet store and that pet becomes ill or dies within 20 days from an illness that it had at the time of sale (but the owner was unaware of), the store is required to replace the dog or cat or refund in full the purchase price.  This protection for owners is extended to situations when, during the first six months after purchase, the owner discovers that the dog or cat has a congenital defect that has or will adversely affect the dog or cat’s health.  In such a case the pet store is again required to replace the animal or refund the purchase price.  In both cases the law mandates that the pet store reimburse the owner for pet care costs, such as medication and veterinarian services, up to $500.  The law requires, however, that the owner seek treatment of the ill pet with a licensed veterinarian.
Recently, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill that would amend the law to close the “love loophole,” which occurred when some pet stores required the owner to return the ill dog or cat before the store would pay for veterinarian bills.  The bill, which is pending before the governor for his signature, would allow owners to seek reimbursement of the pet’s medical fees without having to return the pet, thereby protecting owners who have grown to love their pet.
Questions or Comments? Contact Jared Cantor.