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CONTRIBUTING WRITER | By Robert G. Brody Part four in a five-part series

A look at the ban-the-box-law

B

ack in June 2016, Connecticut passed a ban-the-box law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2017. Since that day, Connecticut employers have been prohibited from inquiring about a prospective employee’s prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on an initial employment application. Have you heard of this law? If not, make sure you do.

THE STATUTE

Employers covered under Connecticut’s ban-the-box law (named “An Act Concerning Fair Chance Employment”) are defined as “any person engaged in business who has one or more employees.” This is a very broad definition. Covered employers are prohibited from inquiring into applicants’ prior arrests, criminal charges or convictions on initial employment applications. There are, however, a few exceptions. An employer may inquire into a person’s criminal history if the employer is required to do so by state or federal law, or if a security, fidelity or an equivalent bond is required for the position. Unlike other ban-the-box laws we are seeing being passed across the country, Connecticut does not appear to prohibit these questions with regard to independent contractors. Also unlike these similar laws, Connecticut employers are generally free to inquire into an applicant’s criminal history after the initial

application stage, such as at the time of interview. Other states “banning-the-box” tend to explicitly require employers to wait until a specified point in the hiring process before inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history. The important thing in Connecticut is to recognize that pesky little “have you ever been convicted of a crime” box on the application. If you have it, your application is likely unlawful.

THE TAKEAWAY

Employers who are just now learning of this law should review their application materials to ensure they do not contain any prohibited criminal history questions. Oftentimes, it’s a small box that might otherwise be easy to miss. The same is true for advertisements that require clean criminal backgrounds. And, while you might not have gotten caught yet, the Connecticut Labor Commissioner has been tasked with handling complaints of aggrieved individuals under this law. So, just because you haven’t had an issue yet, doesn’t mean you won’t. Get rid of the box! Robert G. Brody is the founder and managing member of Brody and Associates LLC, a management-side labor, employment and benefits law firm with offices in Westport. He can be reached at rbrody@brodyandassociates. com or by telephone at 203-454-0560.

NEWS NOON

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The Destructive Business Toll from Sandy By Jeffrey Citron The factory floor and sales showroom were silent. Workers were staying home. Revenues had disappeared. But it was not the COVID-19 epidemic. It was the Madelaine Chocolate Company after Superstorm Sandy flooded its waterfront Queens factory and headquarters with over4 feet of seawater, destroying millions of dollars of machinery and hundreds of thousands of pounds of merchandise. When the flood waters receded, Madelaine’s owners discovered more than $50 million in damage. The elite candy maker - which private labels under numerous brands - for renowned resorts, restaurants, retailers and such entities as the Disney Company, was faced with an enormous crisis, not too distant from the Covid19 impact many regional businesses have absorbed. Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP (DHC), which represented Madelaine for more than 35 years, quickly developed a comprehensive legal and government relations strategy to help rebuild and reopen. Drawing on our experience with both law and government, we assisted Madelaine to secure $13.2 million in hurricane relief aid on the federal, state and local levels, $6 million in state tax credits, a $250,000 grant from National Grid, and $18 million in federal SBA loans.

With these in place, and a lot of hard work, Madelaine was able to resume business operations and restore hundreds of quality New York jobs. Today, the COVID-19 epidemic confronts businesses with a broad range of uncertainties and challenges, from accessing Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) grants, SBA loans, to renegotiating leases and preparing for a safe and also financially secure resumption of business. For almost 50 years, DHC has employed its unique combination of legal and government experience to help companies emerge stronger. As DHC expands into Westchester, Rockland, Orange and Fairfield Counties with its new White Plains office, we are poised to assist in bringing your business back to full capacity. Jeffrey Citron is co-managing partner of Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP. He has extensive experience assisting companies to secure financing, grants and other benefits for capital projects and serves as general counsel for prominent businesses. Reach him at CIT@DHCLegal.com

New York City ▪ Washington D.C. ▪ White Plains ▪ Albany 212.557.7200 ▪ DHCLegal.com FCBJ

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JUNE 22, 2020

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