Connecticut Employers: Out-of-State Employees Now Count Toward 75 Employee Minimum for Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act Coverage
Posted on Jun 15, 2010 on Family and Medical Leave Act by
A Superior Court Judge recently ruled that the Connecticut Family and Medical Leave Act (“CTFMLA”) covers Connecticut employees who work for employers with at least 75 employees, even if the other employees are outside of Connecticut.
The CTFMLA offers Connecticut employees 16 weeks of job-protected, unpaid leave for their own serious health condition, to care for a new baby (or adopted or foster child), or to care for a spouse, child, parent (including in-laws) with a serious health condition. Unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act which covers employers with at least 50 employees, the CTFMLA covers employers with at least 75 employees. While the CTFMLA is silent on where the 75 employees must be located, the Connecticut Department of Labor has long interpreted the law as counting only employees working in Connecticut.
The Velez Decision
In Velez v. Mayfield, although the employer (Related Management Company) had over 1,000 employees nationwide, there were only 35 employees in Connecticut. The plaintiff, an office manager, fractured her hand and took time off to heal. When she attempted to return to work, her employer declined to return her to work. The plaintiff then filed a claim with the Connecticut Department of Labor claiming her rights under the CFMLA were violated. The Department of Labor dismissed the claim explaining that because the employer did not have 75 employees in Connecticut, the Department lacked jurisdiction.
On appeal to the Superior Court, the Judge examined the text of the CFMLA and the associated regulations and found nothing expressly stating that only Connecticut employees are counted toward the 75 employee minimum. Relying in part on a similar New Jersey case, the Judge ruled that the CFMLA does count out-of-state employees and therefore did apply to the employer.
What Velez Means for You
The only employers impacted by Velez are those with at least 75 total employees but with less than 75 employees in Connecticut. According to Velez, those employers are covered by CTFMLA with respect to their Connecticut employees. For example, a company with 60 employees in Florida and only 15 employees in Connecticut must offer CTFMLA benefits to the 15 Connecticut employees. Fortunately, the Velez decision is being appealed. Hopefully, the decision will be overturned or the legislature will step in and revise the law. Until then, employers who don’t want the risk of litigation should comply with Velez.
Brody and Associates regularly advises management on complying and remaining up to date with state and federal employment laws. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203.965.0560.