Connecticut Joins the Right of Recall Movement

 In Employment Law, Overtime Law, Wage Law

There is a trend in pro-employee legal protections emerging in states across the nation. Among these emerging protections are laws under the Right of Recall movement. In brief, when new employment opportunities become available, right of recall legislation requires employers to notify previously laid-off employees of the new openings and to rehire, or recall, those employees in order of seniority. These statutes and ordinances are particularly important for industries like food service, hospitality, and for building/housing companies. But, some the right of recall statutes and ordinances apply more broadly. California and Nevada have enacted state-wide legal protections as have a number of cities like Baltimore, Minneapolis, NYC, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. In July 2021, Connecticut joined the movement. See here.

How Do Right of Recall Statutes Work?

While each statute or ordinance is unique, some features are common. Typically, employers are required to give laid-off employees a notice of their rights to be recalled when they are laid off. Further, when a new job is available, a new notice must be sent and employees have a number of days to accept (from five to 10 days, depending on the statute). Typically, “employees” are defined as:

  • A laid-off employee who worked for the employer for at least six months during the 12 months immediately preceding the lay-off
  • Who is qualified for the new job opening
  • But not an employee who is terminated for disciplinary reasons or to an employee who quit or to an employee in a managerial or supervisory capacity

A “qualified” employee tends to be defined as an employee who previously held the same job or held a job that was “similar.”

Some of the right of recall statutes are specifically aimed at lay-offs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, Connecticut’s new statute applies only to layoffs that occurred (or will occur) between March 10, 2020 and May 1, 2022 and were “due to lack of business or a reduction or furlough of the employer’s workforce due to the COVID-19 pandemic..” However, Nevada’s recent legislation is not limited in this manner. Nevada’s right of recall statute applies to any layoff caused by or due to:

  • A governmental order
  • A lack of business
  • A reduction in force or
  • Other economic reasons

Going forward, in some states and jurisdictions, the right of recall will have broad application.

Many right of recall statutes also apply when the business form of an employer changes or when a business (or substantially all of its assets) are sold. This will protect employees from “downsizing” that tends to occur when a business is sold or re-organized.

There are some important differences between the various right of recall statutes with respect to the “new” job vs. the “old” job. For example, the new Connecticut law requires notice of “new” job openings only to employees that are “qualified” for the new job. However, if the “new” job is the same as the employee’s “old” job, then the employer’s offer must be in the same classification or job title and have substantially the same duties, compensation, benefits, and working conditions that applied to the employee immediately prior to the lay-off. Nevada’s law is not as clear regarding whether the “new” job must be on the same terms and conditions as the “old” job.

Seniority plays a key role in the right of recall statutes. Generally, for any new job opening, the job must first be offered to the previously laid-off qualified employee who has the most seniority. If that former employee declines the offer, then the job must be offered to the person with the second highest level of seniority, etc.

Employers that violate right of recall legislation can be punished for violations and some of the legislation provides employees with a private right of action, meaning that employees can bring lawsuits directly against their employers.

Call the Employee Rights Attorneys at Herrmann Law Today

If you have questions about your wages, overtime, tips or gratuities, service charges, or wage deductions, please call the wage and overtime attorneys at Herrmann Law, PLLC. Call us at (817) 479-9229 or submit your case by using our Online Contact page. We are proven, experienced, employee-focused attorneys representing workers across the United States in all types of workplace disputes.

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