Mar 13 2023
Particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many Connecticut-based workers are working from home for employers based in other states. With this rise of remote work, Connecticut employees may wonder whether their out-of-state employer is covered by Connecticut state labor and employment laws.
So if an employee lives and works remotely in Connecticut, but his or her employer is based in another state, which state’s laws apply? Can the employee take advantage of Connecticut labor laws if the employer commits a violation, even if the employer is based in another state?
Often, Connecticut statutes are completely silent on this issue. In such cases, the employer’s location is likely irrelevant; it is the employee’s location that controls, and Connecticut state law applies to all companies with employees working in Connecticut. As a result, Connecticut employees receive many important benefits of Connecticut laws as long as they perform their job duties in the state.
For example, the Connecticut minimum wage statute does not explicitly require employers to be in Connecticut for its terms to apply. Regardless of their primary business location, all employers must pay their Connecticut workers our state’s minimum wage. Similarly, the statute governing employee access to their personnel files does not specify that it applies only to Connecticut employers. All employers with employees in Connecticut must give workers prompt access to their file upon request.
Connecticut’s statutes prohibiting employment discrimination also do not limit their terms to only Connecticut employers. Discrimination in employment practices on the basis of protected class status is forbidden as to all Connecticut employees, without reference to the employer’s location. This provides substantial protection against discrimination to all Connecticut workers.
Further, Connecticut’s Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) applies to any employer with at least one employee working in the state. As a practical matter, this means that every Connecticut employee is covered by this law (in addition to any federal FMLA protections they might have). The applicability of Connecticut’s FMLA law to all Connecticut workers is a significant benefit of working in the state, even for an out of state employer.
Based on all of this, it might seem that most important Connecticut labor laws apply to Connecticut employees no matter where the employer is located. There are some laws, however, that explicitly limit their scope only to Connecticut employers. One notable example is the Connecticut law prohibiting an employer from penalizing an employee for discussing or disclosing the amount of their wages. That law prevents employers from restricting discussion amongst consenting employees about the amount they are paid or retaliating against them for doing so. The law only applies, however, to employers located in Connecticut. Employees working remotely for employers outside the state may not be protected by this provision, although federal law does provide certain similar protections.
The upshot is that, while Connecticut laws will often apply to protect Connecticut workers employed by out of state companies, this is not always the case. Employees in this situation should investigate whether they are protected by a particular law before attempting to invoke its protections. Often, this will mean engaging the service of an employment law attorney. The employment lawyers at Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti are here to help. Feel free to reach out to us.