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EMPLOYMENT LAWS IN CONNECTICUT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW, BUT SHOULD! You Must Tell Employees They Have the Right to Respond in Writing to Discipline, Evaluations, and Notices of Termination

Part One in a Five Part Series originally published in the Fairfield County Business Journal on December 2, 2019

For over five years, Connecticut law has required employers to let employees respond, in writing, to write-ups, performance evaluations and/or notices of termination.  Not only must employees be given the opportunity, but they must be advised of this right by their employer, in writing!  We have found many Connecticut employers don’t even realize this requirement exists. 

The Statute

Connecticut General Statute §31-128e(b) requires employers “include a statement in clear and conspicuous language in any documented disciplinary action, notice of termination of such employee’s employment or performance evaluation that the employee may, should the employee disagree with any of the information contained in such documented disciplinary action, notice of termination or performance evaluation, submit a written statement explaining his or her position.”  What does this mean? It means any time you give an employee a performance evaluation, disciplinary write-up or notice of termination – you have to include language in the document that clearly tells the employee they can submit a response in writing!  To ensure you can prove the employee received this notice, have the employee sign the document at the very bottom.  Your lawyer will thank you!

What do Employers have to do with the Employee’s Response?

Any written statement the employee decides to submit must be kept in the employee’s personnel file with the document to which it corresponds.  Additionally, whenever contents of the personnel file are given to a third party, the response must accompany the original document. 

The Take Away

This is just one of those unseen laws people often miss.  Employers, consider this your reminder.  You should review the forms you use for employee discipline, evaluation and termination and ensure a clear statement regarding an employee’s right to respond is in there.  If it isn’t in there, add it!  Orally informing the employee is not enough!