Senate Bill No. 914, Public Act No. 15 – 86 became law in the State of Connecticut on October 1, 2015. This new law now specifies that prevailing employees shall be entitled to receive double damages and attorney’s fees in the event an employer failed to pay minimum wage or overtime wages which may be due to the employee.
Employers will have the ability to prove that their underpayment of such wages was in compliance with law based on a ‘good faith belief’. While the new Connecticut law does not provide a definition of ‘good faith’, courts are likely to be guided by standards under the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act providing that employer must ascertain what is required under the law and then provide evidence of steps taken to comply with such requirements.
Previous Connecticut law had provided that double damages and attorney’s fees would not be appropriate unless there was a finding of bad faith in the nonpayment of minimum wages or overtime wages. The new law reverses this presumption in a manner which is in favor of employees and mandates a recovery of attorney’s fees, costs and double damages unless the employer is able to establish good faith.
It is prudent for employers in Connecticut to regularly review policies and procedures regarding the payment of wages to be sure that they do not subject themselves to double damages and attorney’s fees.
For further guidance on these and other employment matters please contact Jonathan M Wells or Charles S Tusa.