P.A. 22-82 AAC Online Dating Operators, the Creation of a Grant Program to Reduce Occurrences of Online Abuse and the Provision of Domestic Violence Training and Protections for Victims of Domestic Violence. (S.B. 5)
This bill is a multifaceted bill dealing with the provision of Domestic Violence services, as well as changes to employment policies. Information about select sections is below. To read a detailed analysis of each section of the bill from the Office of Legislative Research, please click here.
§ 7 — Application of Antidiscrimination Laws to Employers with One or Two Employees
Under the current human rights and opportunities laws, “employer” means the state and all its political subdivisions and any person or employer with at least three employees. The bill lowers the number of employees an employer must have to be subject to these laws to one or more instead of three or more.
In doing so, it subjects employers with one or two employees to the antidiscrimination laws under the CHRO statutes, including those that prohibit (1) discriminatory employment practices and (2) workplace sexual harassment. These laws also impose certain duties on the employer, such as the duty to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee who is pregnant, unless doing so would be an undue hardship.
Under the bill, employers with one or two employees are no longer exempt from liability for employment discrimination based on any of the protected classes. The bill gives these employees the right to file a complaint with CHRO claiming to be aggrieved by an employer’s alleged discriminatory practice, as employees of employers with three of more employees may do under existing law.
§§ 7-21 — Domestic Violence Victims as a Protected Class under Anti-Discrimination Laws
The bill prohibits various forms of discrimination based on someone’s status as a domestic violence victim, such as in employment, public accommodations, housing sales or rentals, granting credit, and several other areas. In several cases, it classifies discrimination on this basis as a “discriminatory practice” under the CHRO laws. By doing so, the act allows individuals aggrieved by these violations or CHRO itself to file a complaint with CHRO alleging discrimination.
Under existing law, it is a discriminatory practice to deprive someone of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by Connecticut or federal laws or constitutions, or cause such a deprivation, because of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, blindness, mental or physical disability, or status as a veteran. The bill adds status as a domestic violence victim to this list.
Employment Discrimination (§ 10)
The bill prohibits an employer or employer’s agent, unless there is a bona fide occupational qualification or need, from (1) refusing to hire or employ someone; (2) barring or discharging someone from employment; or (3) discriminating against someone in pay or in employment terms, conditions, or privileges because the person is a domestic violence victim. This prohibition applies to all employers, public or private, and all employees except those employed by their parents, spouse, or children.
The bill also prohibits the following kinds of employment discrimination based on domestic violence victim status:
- employers refusing to provide a reasonable accommodation to an employee whom the employer knows is a victim of domestic violence unless the absence would cause an undue hardship (see below);
- employment agencies failing or refusing to classify properly or refer for employment or otherwise discriminating against someone except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need;
- labor organizations excluding someone from full membership rights, expelling a member, or discriminating in any way against a member, employer, or employee unless the action is due to a bona fide occupational qualification;
- employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or anyone else taking adverse action against someone because he or she opposed a discriminatory employment practice, brought a complaint, or testified or assisted someone else in a complaint proceeding;
- any person aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling, or coercing someone to commit a discriminatory employment practice or attempting to do so; and
- employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or anyone else advertising employment opportunities in a way that restricts employment and therefore discriminates except when involving a bona fide occupational qualification or need.
Reasonable Leave of Absence
Under the bill, it is a discriminatory practice for an employer or the employer’s agent to deny an employee a reasonable leave of absence for the employee to do the following:
- seek attention for injuries caused by domestic violence, including for a child who is a domestic violence victim, so long the employee is not the perpetrator against the child;
- obtain services, including safety planning, from a domestic violence agency or rape crisis center;
- obtain psychological counseling, including for a child, so long as the employee is not the perpetrator against the child;
- take other actions to increase safety from future incidents, including temporary or permanent relocation; or
- obtain legal services, assist in the offense’s prosecution, or otherwise participate in related legal proceedings.
The bill requires an employee who is absent from work under these circumstances to provide a certification to the employer, upon request, within a reasonable time after the absence. The certification must be one of the following:
- a police report indicating that the employee or the employee’s child was a domestic violence victim,
- a court order protecting or separating the employee or employee’s child from the perpetrator,
- other evidence from the court or prosecutor that the employee appeared in court, or
- documentation from a medical professional or a domestic violence counselor, or other health care provider, that the employee or employee’s child was receiving services, counseling, or treatment for physical or mental injuries or abuse resulting in victimization from domestic violence.
Under the bill, if an employee has a physical or mental disability resulting from a domestic violence incident, then the employee must be treated the same as employees with other disabilities.
The bill also requires employers, to the extent allowed by law, to maintain the confidentiality of any information about an employee’s status as a domestic violence victim.
Public Accommodations (§ 13)
The bill prohibits anyone from denying someone, based on his or her status as a domestic violence victim, full and equal accommodations in any public establishment (i.e., one that caters to or offers its services, facilities, or goods to the general public), including any commercial property.
Housing (§ 14)
The bill prohibits anyone from refusing to sell or rent after a person makes a bona fide offer; refusing to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling; or otherwise denying or making a dwelling unavailable to someone based on their status as a domestic violence victim.
Credit (§ 15)
The bill prohibits a creditor from discriminating against an adult in a credit transaction based on the person’s status as a domestic violence victim.
Other Areas Subject to CHRO’s Jurisdiction (§§ 12 & 16-21)
The bill authorizes CHRO to investigate claims of discrimination based on a person’s status as a domestic violence victim under other laws over which CHRO has jurisdiction.
Domestic Violence Training and Information for Employees (§§ 8 & 9)
The bill also allows CHRO to require employers with three or more employees to post, in a prominent and accessible location, information on domestic violence and the resources available to such victims in Connecticut.
§ 23 — DSS Funding
For FY 23, the bill requires DSS to make $1.44 million available to domestic violence child and family advocates at domestic violence agencies for providing trauma-informed services to children and families experiencing domestic violence.
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