Mark Sommaruga

Mark Sommaruga

Pullman & Comley, LLC

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Latest Developments From The Connecticut General Assembly: The Labor and Public Employees Committee Speaks

Before the deadline for committee action, the General Assembly’s Labor and Public Employees Committee voted favorably on a plethora of bills and advanced them out of committee. Among the most noteworthy were: 1) a bill...more

4/9/2014 - Employee Rights Minimum Wage Workplace Injury

The Best Defense Is A Good Offense: Employers’ Use of The FOIA For Background Checks

In representing primarily public sector bodies over most of my career, I have generally been in a position of advising clients in how to comply with Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests, and thus usually assist those...more

3/25/2014 - Background Checks Employer Liability Issues FOIA FOIC

OOPS and the FOIA, Part 2: Dacey v. Easton Board of Education and the Need For a Subcommittee to Comply With The FOIA

There are times where a public agency may get so caught up with solving an existing problem that it will lose sight of the need to comply fully with the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”] and thus create what could...more

3/25/2014

Oops and the FOIA, Part One; Kadri v. Groton Board of Education and Protections From the Accidental Disclosure of Attorney-Client...

What happens when your agency’s lawyer sends out a confidential letter that is somehow leaked? A relatively recent decision by the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] appears to indicate that all is not lost, as...more

3/18/2014 - Attorney-Client Privilege Confidential Information FOIA FOIC

Latest Developments From The Connecticut General Assembly

The General Assembly’s Education Committee is conducting a public hearing on March 3, 2014. The Committee will consider testimony on bills that, among other things: 1) require school districts to adopt policies or enter into...more

3/4/2014 - Absenteeism Law Enforcement Legislative Agendas Public Schools

School District’s Refusal to Release Bullying Investigation Report Upheld

While the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”] generally seeks to provide access to records created by public agencies, and while anti-bullying laws require that parents be notified by a school district with regard to the...more

3/3/2014 - Bullying FOIA FOIC Investigations Public Schools

“Mind Your Own Business”- The Connecticut Supreme Court Limits Challenges to Licensing and Certification Decisions by Public...

In a much ballyhooed case, certain residents and taxpayers of the City of Bridgeport brought a “quo warranto” action in the courts, challenging the qualifications of the City’s Superintendent of Schools (Paul Vallas) to hold...more

2/26/2014 - Board of Education Licensing Rules Public Schools Quo Warranto Writs School Districts

Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16: Reduction in Hours v. Termination of Employment

In these fiscal times, school districts are confronted with difficult choices in restructuring their teaching workforce, with districts often having to consider the elimination of teaching positions. A recent court case...more

2/24/2014 - Collective Bargaining Due Process Educational Institutions Employee Rank and Status Full-Time Employees Part-Time Employees Teachers Tenure

Dear Colleague Letter Firmly Urges Districts to Abandon “Zero Tolerance” in Student Discipline Policies

The Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education (OCR) and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice recently released a joint “Dear Colleague Letter” (DCL) providing guidance on administering...more

2/14/2014 - Department of Education Discrimination National Origin Discrimination OCR Students Zero Tolerance Policies

What Can We Expect from this Connecticut General Assembly Session?

On February 6, 2014, the 2014 session of the Connecticut General Assembly began. Since this is an election year, the session will be relatively short, with adjournment scheduled for May 7, 2014. We can expect a plethora of...more

2/13/2014 - FMLA Minimum Wage Minimum Wage Laws Proposed Legislation Restrictive Covenants

Good Cop or Bad Cop: The Public’s Right to Know

As you may have learned through media reports or your favorite television cop show, allegations of misdeeds by police officers usually proceed through a police department’s “Internal Affairs” [“IA”] investigation process. ...more

2/12/2014 - FOIA FOIC Police

Bridgeport Board of Education v. NAEG, Local RI-200: What is the Appropriate Punishment for Actual and Perceived Threats in the...

We have all been emotionally touched by the tragedies in Columbine and Sandy Hook, not to mention workplace shootings such as those at Hartford Distributors and the Connecticut Lottery. In that context, employers (and...more

2/12/2014 - Board of Education Public Employees Public Schools School Safety School Shootings Termination

The FOIA and the Great Beyond - Personnel File Exceptions Do Not Belong to the Deceased

In a recent case, the Superior Court reminded us all about the limitations that exist under the so-called “personnel files” exception to the disclosure of records under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). One...more

1/22/2014 - FOIA Personnel Records Request For Information

Lessons from the National Football League in the Workplace

Regardless of whether one is a Miami Dolphins or NFL fan, the recent investigation by the NFL regarding allegations of bullying involving Jonathan Martin may tell a precautionary tale for all employers. Briefly, Martin left...more

12/26/2013 - Discrimination Harassment Hostile Environment Workplace Bullying

Be Careful – Complying with Separation Agreements and Personnel File Issues

Parties often include in separation agreements a confidentiality provision, along with a provision indicating that the agreement is not to be included in the soon-to be former employee’s personnel file. Sometimes, such...more

11/6/2013 - Confidentiality Agreements Discovery FOIA Separation Agreement Subpoenas Third-Party

Impact of Legislation on BOE Policies

This Alert provides a general explanation of the recent legislative enactments that impact board of education policies. ...more

8/9/2013 - Board of Education Meeting Department of Education New Legislation Public Schools School Safety Security Students

New State Law prohibits Use of “AlertNow” and Other Automated Notification Systems to Communicate the Date, Time and Location of...

As of July 1, 2013 Boards of Education will no longer be allowed to use their AlertNow, e-mail, texting or other automated notification systems to notify parents or guardians of the time, date and location of budget...more

7/2/2013 - Board of Education Meeting Education Budget Email Local Ordinance New Regulations Notifications Robocalling Texting

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