Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court

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Defendant, the City of New Haven, was entitled to a new trial on this action for indemnification. Plaintiff, a police officer with the New Haven Police Department, was acquitted of sexual assault and unlawful restraint charges for conduct that allegedly occurred during the course of his employment. When Defendant declined to reimburse Plaintiff for economic loss sustained as a result of the prosecution in accordance with Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-39a, Plaintiff brought this indemnification action. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial court erred in prohibiting Defendant from using the complainants’ prior testimony, and the error was not harmless. View "Maio v. City of New Haven" on Justia Law

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At issue was how employers must determine the hourly wage - or regular rate - for retail employees whose pay fluctuates weekly because they receive commissions for the purposes of calculating overtime pay. Defendants in this case calculated Plaintiffs’ overtime pay using a method commonly known as the fluctuating workweek method. Plaintiffs brought this action claiming that Defendants’ use of the fluctuating method to calculate their regular rate for purposes of determining their overtime pay rate violated Connecticut wage laws. The district court certified a question to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered by holding that, although Connecticut wage laws do not prohibit the use of the fluctuating method for employees such as Plaintiffs, the state Department of Labor fair minimum wage order governing the calculation of overtime pay for mercantile employees does. View "Williams v. General Nutrition Centers, Inc." on Justia Law

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Genovese v. Gallo Wine Merchants, Inc., 628 A.2d 946 (Conn. 1993), which held that, under Con. Gen. Stat. 31-51bb, a factual determination made in a final and binding arbitration conducted pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement does not have a preclusive effect in a subsequent action claiming a constitutional or statutory violation, is still good law. Plaintiff brought the present action alleging that her termination was in retaliation for bringing a previous action against Defendant alleging sex discrimination and for engaging in protected speech. Defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiff’s claims were barred by the doctrine of collateral estoppel because the factual underpinnings of the claims had been decided against her by the board of mediation in arbitration proceedings. The trial court denied the motion, citing Genovese. Defendant appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed, thus declining Defendant’s invitation to overrule Genovese. View "Spiotti v. Wolcott" on Justia Law

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Under the Municipal Employees’ Retirement Act (Act) a retiree cannot continue to collect a pension while reemployed in any full-time position with a participating municipality. In 1991, Plaintiff retired from his position as a firefighter with the town of East Haven. Plaintiff was awarded a disability pension through his membership in the municipal employees retirement system. From 1997 until 2007, Plaintiff served as mayor of East Haven. During that time, the State Employees Retirement Commission and the retirement services division of the Office of the State Comptroller (collectively, the agencies) determined that Plaintiff could continue to receive his retirement pension under the Act. However, when Plaintiff was again elected mayor in 2011, the agencies concluded that they had previously misconstrued the Act and suspended Plaintiff’s pension. The Commission and the trial court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the agencies properly constructed the reemployment and disability pension provisions of the Act; and (2) the district court did not err in finding that Plaintiff did not rely to his detriment on the agencies’ previous interpretation of the Act and that the Commission did not violate Plaintiff’s equal protection and due process rights. View "Maturo v. State Employees Retirement Commission" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff were a class of state employees and retirees who were enrolled in an Anthem Insurance group health insurance plan at the time of the 2001 demutualization of Anthem Insurance Companies. Plaintiffs brought suit against former Governor John Rowland, the State, Anthem Insurance, and other insurance company defendants alleging that their participation in the plan entitled them to membership in Anthem Insurance and a share of the demutualization proceeds. Plaintiffs claimed that Anthem Insurance and the other insurance company defendants breached their contractual obligations by not paying Plaintiffs for their membership interests and instead distributing their share of the proceeds to the State. The Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims against Rowland and the State were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity or otherwise should have been dismissed. After a trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the remaining defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that the relevant contract provisions were ambiguous as to Plaintiffs’ eligibility for membership in Anthem Insurance and their entitlement to a share of the demutualization proceeds and properly considered extrinsic evidence to determine their meaning. View "Gold v. Rowland" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, a Connecticut corporation that operates Domino’s pizza franchises, filed a petition for a declaratory ruling with the Labor Commissioner seeking a determination that it could pay a reduced minimum wage to its delivery drivers because they regularly receive gratuities that result in the drivers earning in excess of the minimum wage. Plaintiff relied on Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-60(b), which directs the Commissioner, acting through the Department of Labor, to adopt regulations that recognize that employers may include gratuities as part of the minimum fair wage for certain employees in the restaurant and hotel industries (tip credit). At issue in this case was whether the Department’s regulations that limit the tip credit to bartenders and traditional waitstaff and do not allow employers to count gratuities toward the minimum wage for other employees such as restaurant delivery drivers, conflict with the enabling statute. The Commissioner issued a declaratory ruling finding that Plaintiff’s drivers were not subject to a tip credit. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the regulations at issue are not incompatible with section 31-60(b). View "Amaral Brothers, Inc. v. Department of Labor" on Justia Law

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The Board of Review of the Employment Security Appeals Division found Southwest Appraisal Group, LLC (Plaintiff) liable for unemployment compensation taxes, plus interest, for three of its automobile appraisers following an audit by the Administrator of the Unemployment Compensation Act (Defendant). The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s appeal, deeming the three appraisers to be employees on the ground that Plaintiff had failed to prove that they had performed appraisal services for anyone other than Plaintiff despite evidence indicating that they operated independent businesses. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly upheld the Board’s construction of Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-222(a)(1)(B)(ii), namely, that part C of the ABC test requires putative independent contractors to be customarily engaged in an independently established - and successful - trade, occupation, profession or business. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that evidence of the performance of services for third parties is not required to prove part C of the ABC test but, rather, is a single factor that may be considered under the totality of the circumstances analysis governing that inquiry. View "Southwest Appraisal Group, LLC v. Administrator, Unemployment Compensation Act" on Justia Law

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When Employee received less compensation from Employer than that to which he believed he was entitled, Employee began to work for a competitor of Employer and to receive compensation for that work. Employer later terminated Employee’s employment and filed this action, alleging that Employee had breached the duty of loyalty to Employer by performing work on his own behalf during Employer’s workday and by accepting kickbacks from a subcontractor in connection with his work for Employer. The trial court held that Employee had violated his duty of loyalty to Employer. As part of its remedy, the trial court imposed a constructive trust on a bank account held jointly by Employee and his wife. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court’s award of damages was supported by the evidence; (2) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to order additional monetary relief; and (3) the trial court’s imposition of a constructive trust on the joint bank account was not warranted on the evidence presented. View "Wall Systems, Inc. v. Pompa" on Justia Law

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A police union and the City of Norwalk were parties to a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) governing the terms and conditions of employment for certain city police officers. The CBA provided that disputes over its interpretation will be resolved through arbitration. The Board of Police Commissioners determined that Stephen Couture, a police sergeant employed by the Norwalk Police Department, had violated departmental rules and that his employment should be terminated. Couture ultimately initiated an arbitration proceeding with the State Board of Mediation and Arbitration, and a majority of the arbitration board found that Couture had been terminated for just cause. The trial court vacated the arbitration award on the ground that the City had disciplined Couture twice for the same misconduct in manifest disregard of the law. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the arbitration board’s decision was not in manifest disregard of the law, and therefore, the trial court improperly vacated the award of the arbitration board. View "Norwalk Police Union, Local 1727 v. City of Norwalk" on Justia Law

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After he was terminated, Employee sued Employer, alleging, inter alia, disability discrimination. After a trial, the jury trial returned a verdict in favor of Employee and awarded him, inter alia, $500,000 in statutory punitive damages. Employer moved to set aside the award of punitive damages. The trial court granted the motion, determining that Conn. Gen. Stat. 46a-104 does not provide for an award of statutory punitive damages as a remedy for discriminatory practices under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that section 46a-104 does not authorize punitive damages in employment discrimination cases. View "Tomick v. United Parcel Service, Inc." on Justia Law