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Attention Connecticut Employers: First-of-its-kind COVID-19 Litigation Filed under New Rehire Law

October 13, 2021

The first lawsuit under Connecticut’s new COVID rehire law has been filed.  P.A. 21-189 requires certain Connecticut employers who let employees go due to COVID-19 to rehire those impacted employees in order of seniority.  Failure to do so without due cause could result in legal jeopardy for the employer.

In this recently filed lawsuit, the three complainants were long time employees of a McDonald’s franchise who were laid off during the pandemic.  In the suit, the restaurant was accused of failing to reinstate these workers in order of seniority in violation of the new law.  The three McDonald’s workers were laid off in October 2020.  The new recall law went into effect in July 2021.  The McDonald’s franchise claims it has good reason for not recalling the employees, mostly surrounding the employees’ lack of flexibility in scheduling.  However, P.A. 21-189 does not have a carve out for such a defense.     

As we previously wrote, P.A. 21-189 requires certain employers in the Hotel, Lodging House, Building Services and Food Services industries that cut jobs due to the pandemic offer employees their jobs back in order of seniority once they start rehiring.  In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege they were laid off as a result of the pandemic and have yet to be recalled despite hiring others in positions for which they are qualified.

The attorney for the plaintiffs argues the law rests on the principal of strict liability and therefore his clients must be offered reinstatement.  This law is a first-of-its-kind in the United States, and this is the first case testing it.  This may well be the beginning of a string of such cases. 

Brody and Associates regularly advises its clients on all labor management issues, including union-related matters, and provides union-free training.  If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.