Effective October 1, 2015, unfavorable jury verdicts in wage/hour claims under Connecticut law will be twice as painful for employers. In late June, Connecticut Governor Daniel Malloy signed the “Act Concerning an Employer’s Failure to Pay Wages,” which will require courts to award double damages, plus costs and attorneys; fees, if an employee successfully proves that his or her employer has either failed to pay wages, accrued fringe benefits, or an arbitration award, or has failed to pay the state’s minimum wage or overtime for hours worked over 40 in a work week.
This new statute eliminates the previous standard for double damages and attorneys’ fees, which required the employee to prove that the employer acted in bad faith, was arbitrary, or unreasonable. Unlike the parallel law in Massachusetts, an employer can avoid double damages if it can establish that it acted in “good faith,” but “good faith” is not specifically defined in the statute, which means that the contours of that defense will be determined by future litigation.
In Massachusetts, the mandatory trebling of wage/hour damages has created a whole cottage industry of plaintiff attorneys specializing in wage/hour claims on behalf of employees. We expect a similar response in Connecticut.