March is Women’s History Month: A Look at 3 Laws Protecting the Rights of Women in the Workplace

by Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law
Contact

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, nearly half of U.S. workers are women. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in all aspects of employment, was enacted over 50 years ago, but women still face challenges in the workplace. As March is Women’s History Month, now is a good time to review some key laws that affect female workers:

 1. Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Laws

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 61.8% of women (aged 16-50) who had given birth within the past 12 months were in the U.S. labor force in 2014. Connecticut recently enhanced the employment protections provided to pregnant women and nursing mothers under the state’s Fair Employment Practices Act (CGS §46a-60). For example, the law now provides that employers of three or more employees may not refuse to make reasonable accommodation to a woman because of pregnancy, childbirth or a related condition or because she is breastfeeding, absent undue hardship. “Reasonable accommodation” is broadly defined to include: being permitted to sit while working; more frequent or longer breaks; periodic rest; assistance with manual labor; job restructuring; light duty assignments; modified work schedules; temporary transfer to less strenuous work; and time off to recover from childbirth. In addition, employers are prohibited from requiring an employee or applicant affected by pregnancy to accept a reasonable accommodation if the individual does not have a known limitation related to pregnancy or does not require a reasonable accommodation to perform the essential duties related to employment. Subject employers must provide notices to employees (in English and Spanish) regarding their rights under the new law. (See our prior blog on the new notice requirements.)

The new law supplements existing state law which: (1) allows an employee to express breast milk or breastfeed on site at her workplace during her meal or break period; and (2) requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location in close proximity to the work area, other than a toilet stall, where an employee can express her milk in private (CGS §31-40w).

Employers should also be mindful that they may not request information from an employee or applicant relating to a woman’s child-bearing age or plans; pregnancy; function of the individual’s reproductive system; use of birth control; or family responsibilities, unless directly related to a bona fide occupational qualification. Exceptions apply in the case of workplaces that expose employees to hazardous substances (CGS §46a-60(b)(9)).

     2. Sexual Harassment

While not strictly a women’s issue, sexual harassment continues to be a problem in the workplace. A 2016 report of a Special Task Force created by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) notes that 45% of the total number of harassment charges that the EEOC received in 2015 alleged harassment on the basis of sex.

Employers are responsible for harassment by supervisors when the offending conduct culminates in a tangible employment action (i.e., significant change in employment status, such as hiring, firing, promotion and demotion). If the harassment did not lead to a tangible employment action, the employer is liable unless it proves that: (1) it exercised reasonable care to prevent and promptly correct any harassment; and (2) the employee unreasonably failed to complain to management or to avoid harm otherwise.

Employers of three or more employees in Connecticut must post a notice concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment. Such notice must be posted where both employees and applicants for employment can see the notice. In addition, employers of 50 or more employees in Connecticut must provide two hours of training and education to all supervisory employees. New supervisory employees must receive the training within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position (Regs. Conn. State Agencies §46a-54-204).

    3. Equal Pay

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2016 women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median usual weekly earnings that were 82% of those of their male counterparts and that since 2004, the women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio has remained in the 80% to 83% range. Both the federal Equal Pay Act and Connecticut law (CGS §31-75) prohibit paying workers differently based on their sex. Connecticut has put other protections in place to make wage practices more transparent. For example, employers are prohibited from limiting their employees’ ability to share information about their earnings. Specifically, employees may not be restricted from: (1) disclosing or discussing the amount of their own wages or other employees’ voluntarily disclosed wages; or (2) asking about other employees’ wages. Employers may not require employees to sign a waiver that denies their right to such sharing, nor may they discharge, discipline, discriminate or retaliate against, or otherwise penalize employees for such sharing (CGS §31-40z). The Connecticut General Assembly considered a bill last year that would have prohibited employers from asking applicants about their salary history (see our prior blog on this topic). The bill did not pass but is likely to be considered again during the current legislative session.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law
Contact
more
less

Pullman & Comley - Labor, Employment and Employee Benefits Law on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.