April 10, 2018

Lawmakers could vote on new employer mandates

Lawmakers could vote soon on a pair of bills that would ban certain types of employer-employee communications and require employers to keep any video evidence of workplace injuries for two years.

The Judiciary Committee last week passed House Bill 5473, which prohibits employers from requiring employees to attend meetings regarding their views on political or religious matters. Lawmakers voted 25-14 in favor, supported by four Republicans and all Democratic members.

Staff at Foxwoods Resort Casino working to unionize recently backed the proposed legislation, calling to outlaw the so-called "captive audience meetings."

In written testimony to the committee, workers alleged that they endured months of anti-union campaigning from Foxwoods' management, including during meetings with supervisors regarding their union support.

But the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) says the bill defines political matters too broadly, including state regulations, legislation, election for political office and workplace unions.

CBIA also said the legislation is problematic for banning discussions about employee support of any political party or political, civic, community or fraternal organizations

Meanwhile, the committee also approved House Bill 5467 by a vote of 36-5, which requires employers to retain video surveillance recordings for two years of scenarios in which someone is injured at a retail establishment, business premises or commercial property. The bill would require such recordings to include six hours of footage before the injury-producing event and one hour after.

The person or entity responsible for preserving the surveillance video would be required to produce its original copy within 30 days of receiving a request.

The committee overwhelming passed the bill despite pushback from several insurers and others, who argued that the proposal would increase costs for employers and that it would encourage abusive litigation.

The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America testified that certain injuries, even minor ones, aren't disclosed to business owners until long after the incident occured.

Meanwhile, workplace videos can be "innocently" taped over, which "puts the business owners at a disadvantage" if they are unaware a lawsuit may be coming.

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