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Connecticut Extends Discrimination and Leave Protections to Domestic Violence Victims

Effective October 1, 2022, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) which prohibits discrimination because of an individual’s race (including hairstyle), color, religion, creed, age, sex (including pregnancy, child-bearing capacity, sterilization, fertility or related medical conditions), sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, national origin, ancestry, present or past history of mental disability, intellectual disability or learning disability and veteran status has been amended to broaden coverage to all employers, regardless of their employee count and to add “domestic violence” protections.

Other key highlights of the amendments include:

  • Requiring employers to provide a reasonable leave of absence to domestic violence to seek treatment for themselves or their child for injuries from domestic violence, obtain services from a domestic violence agency or rape crisis center, obtain counseling for domestic violence, including for their child who is a victim of domestic violence, relocate or take other action to increase their safety from future domestic violence, or participate in legal proceedings related to domestic violence;
  • Requiring an employee who has a physical or mental disability resulting from domestic violence to be treated in the same manner as an employee with any other disability; and
  • Requiring an employer with three or more employees to post domestic violence information and available resources in Connecticut.

Next Steps for Employers

Of note, Connecticut already has a law that requires employers with three or more employees to provide up to 12 days of leave per year to employees who are victims of family violence. For employers that have three or more employees, family violence leave can run concurrently with domestic violence leave if the employee’s need for leave qualifies for both. However, a “reasonable” leave for domestic violence could extend beyond the 12-day cap on leave for family violence.

Employers may also need to update their Equal Employment Opportunity policy to include domestic violence victim status as a protected class, in addition to, including a domestic violence leave policy in their employee handbook.

Employers should visit the CT Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities publications webpage to check for the release of an updated “Discrimination is Illegal” and “EEO” posters and any new domestic violence required postings. At the time of this post, these items have not yet been made available; however, once they are, employers should ensure that this information is posted in a prominent and accessible location.

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