Employee Health: Connecticut
Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.
Author: Leanne Coffman
- Certain infectious diseases, as well as cardiac emergencies and hypertension, may be covered under presumptive evidence. See Presumptive Illnesses and Conditions.
- To limit the dangers of secondhand smoke, all employers must comply with the Connecticut Clean Indoor Air Act. Connecticut also limits the use of electronic cigarettes or vapor products in certain workplaces. See Smoking in the Workplace.
- The state has a Good Samaritan law, which offers conditional protection from civil damages to those offering emergency medical care. See Managing Emergency Medical Situations.
Managing Day-to-Day Health Concerns
Under state codes, certain diseases or illnesses that represent serious community health concerns must be reported to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Although health care providers and laboratories are primarily charged with this duty, other entities may also be required to provide notification.
Contacting the local health department may be necessary in some circumstances, such as if a medical provider has not been known to have made a report or if an employer suspects an unusual disease pattern.
Affected employers that may be required to give notice include administrators of schools, camps or daycare centers, as well as morticians and funeral directors. Establishments producing, processing or handling food or dairy products fall under similar requirements to notify health officials.
An employer affected by these provisions can find forms and information on the Connecticut Department of Health website.
Presumptive Illnesses and Conditions
Unless contradictory evidence is found, it may be presumed that illnesses contracted by employees in certain high-risk occupations are the result of working conditions. Connecticut presumptive evidence law covers firefighters, law enforcement officers or other persons with known occupational risk.
Covered illnesses include:
- Hypertension or heart disease;
- Cardiac emergencies, such as cardiac arrest or myocardial infarction;
- Diseases such as hepatitis, meningococcal meningitis, tuberculosis and Kahler's Disease; and
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and prostate or testicular cancer that results in death or temporary or permanent total or partial disability.
Managing Mental Health Concerns
Mental injuries may be compensable under the Connecticut workers' compensation law. However, there must be sufficient evidence that the mental impairment occurred as a result of a workplace physical injury or occupational disease.
Mental injuries that occur as a result of routine job actions performed in good faith by the employer, such as layoffs, terminations or company closures, are not compensable.
Managing Substance Abuse
Drug or Alcohol Addiction
The Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act prohibits discrimination against an employee because of a physical or mental disability, such as a history of alcoholism or drug abuse.
The state draws the definition of mental disability from the most recent version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV).
According to the state, mental disability refers to individuals with a record of (or regarded as having) one or more disorders listed in the DSMV. The DSMV identifies substance abuse and substance dependence as mental disorders. Therefore, a person with a history of these issues is entitled to protection from employment discrimination.
However, the current, illegal use of a controlled substance is generally excluded from protection under antidiscrimination laws.
Smoking in the Workplace
Under the Connecticut Clean Indoor Air Act, smoking is banned in many public places, such as restaurants, bars, government buildings, health care institutions and school buildings (during school functions or sessions).
To limit the dangers of secondhand smoke, all employers must comply with the Act.
An employer with fewer than five employees in a business facility must provide a nonsmoking work area (or areas) at the request of an employee. The employer must clearly designate the existence and boundaries of the nonsmoking areas by posting signs that can be readily seen by employees and visitors. In the areas where smoking is allowed, existing physical barriers and ventilation systems must be used to the extent practicable to minimize the effect of smoking in adjacent nonsmoking areas.
An employer with five or more employees must prohibit smoking in any business facility under its control. However, the employer may designate one or more smoking rooms. If an employer opts to provide a smoking room, then it must provide sufficient nonsmoking break rooms for nonsmoking employees. Each smoking room must be separate from nonsmoking areas and conform to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA's) guidelines pertaining to ventilation, as well as state requirements. Each smoking room must be located in a nonwork area, where no employee is required to enter as part of their work responsibilities, except such work responsibilities do not include any custodial or maintenance work carried out in the smoking room when it is unoccupied. Therefore, the smoking area cannot be a shared break room or an office that is also used by nonsmokers. In addition, smoking rooms are for employee use only.
However, an employer does not have to provide smoking areas or accommodate smokers. All employers are allowed to create policies preventing smoking in the entire facility.
Smoking means the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance that contains tobacco.
An employer means a person (i.e., one or more individuals, partnerships, associations, corporations, limited liability companies, business trusts, legal representatives or any organized group of persons) engaged in business who has employees.
A business facility means a structurally enclosed location or portion of it at which employees perform services for their employer. A business facility does not include, for example:
- Correctional facilities;
- Public housing projects;
- Any tobacco bar, provided no tobacco bar shall expand in size or change its location from its size or location as of December 31, 2002;
- Any establishment with a permit for the sale of alcoholic liquor issued on or before May 1, 2003; and
- Any business that is engaged in the testing or development of tobacco or tobacco products.
E-cigarettes (referred to as electronic nicotine delivery systems or vapor products) may not be used in:
- Buildings owned or leased by the state or its political subdivisions;
- Health care institutions;
- Retail food stores;
- Certain establishments serving alcohol;
- School buildings while used for school- or student-related activities;
- Child care facilities;
- University or college dormitories;
- Passenger elevators; and
- Dog race tracks or off-track betting facilities.
An electronic nicotine delivery system means an electronic device that may be used to simulate smoking in the delivery of nicotine or other substances to a person inhaling from the device, and includes, but is not limited to, an electronic cigarette, electronic cigar, electronic cigarillo, electronic pipe, electronic hookah and any related device, and any cartridge or other component of the device.
Nothing in the law requires an employer to designate any area for e-cigarette use. However, e-cigarette use is permitted where an employer provides employee smoking rooms as allowed under +Conn. Gen. Stat. § 31-40q.
In each room, elevator, area or building in which the use of an electronic nicotine delivery system or vapor product is prohibited, the person in control of the premises must post in a conspicuous place signs stating that such use is prohibited by state law. Such signs must have letters at least four inches high and one-half inch wide. Exceptions apply.
The state provisions preempt any municipal ordinances on electronic cigarettes.
Under Connecticut law, an employer is prohibited from discriminating against an employee based on his or her off-duty smoking or use of tobacco products. Therefore, an employer may not ask employees, as a condition of employment, to abstain from smoking or refrain from using tobacco products off the job.
Discrimination due to off-duty conduct in regard to compensation, terms or privileges is forbidden.
However, nonprofit employers with a primary organizational purpose of discouraging the general public's use of tobacco products are exempt from this law.
Additionally, all employers are free to enforce no-smoking policies on the job.
Managing Emergency Medical Situations
Connecticut has a Good Samaritan law, which offers conditional protection from civil damages to those offering or attempting to provide emergency medical assistance.
The immunity is granted specifically to medical professionals, as well as any person offering cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or medical assistance, including the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
However, to gain protection under the law, the care must be rendered voluntarily, without compensation and in good faith. Acts of gross negligence, such as willful misconduct, reckless conduct or intentional wrongdoing to injure the victim, are not covered by the law.
Additionally, the law requires any person who owns or purchases an AED to notify the local emergency medical services of the type and placement of the device.
The state also has separate laws that require AEDs in fitness or health clubs, as well as in schools and at school-sponsored athletic activities. Training in CPR and the usage of the device are required for anticipated users.
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