2005 Connecticut Code - Sec. 31-51q. Liability of employer for discipline or discharge of employee on account of employee\'s exercise of certain constitutional rights.

      Sec. 31-51q. Liability of employer for discipline or discharge of employee on account of employee's exercise of certain constitutional rights. Any employer, including the state and any instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, who subjects any employee to discipline or discharge on account of the exercise by such employee of rights guaranteed by the first amendment to the United States Constitution or section 3, 4 or 14 of article first of the Constitution of the state, provided such activity does not substantially or materially interfere with the employee's bona fide job performance or the working relationship between the employee and the employer, shall be liable to such employee for damages caused by such discipline or discharge, including punitive damages, and for reasonable attorney's fees as part of the costs of any such action for damages. If the court determines that such action for damages was brought without substantial justification, the court may award costs and reasonable attorney's fees to the employer.

      (P.A. 83-578.)

      Cited. 193 C. 558, 564. Cited. 209 C. 807. Right to jury trial cannot be implied; must be affirmatively expressed. 211 C. 370-373, 376-378, 380-382. Cited. 214 C. 464, 469. Cited. 222 C. 346, 351. Cited. 224 C. 693, 697, 710, 711. Cited. 226 C. 314, 340. Cited. 239 C. 356. Whether subject matter addressed by a particular statement is of public concern involves a question of law for the court, and whether the statement addresses such a matter depends on its content, form and context which is a question of fact, and in this case, it was within court's discretion to submit the question to the jury. 249 C. 766. In an action under this section it is within province of trial court to determine as a matter of law which topics are considered to be of public concern, but whether employee's statements address such a topic is within the province of the jury to be determined by looking at content, form and context. Id. Jury instruction was permissible that for protection to apply, employee's statement must concern a broader issue of public concern and not merely employee's personal matters. Id. Section extends protection of rights of free speech under federal and state constitutions to employees in a private workplace. 251 C. 1. Managerial decision about placement of flags in the workplace does not involve employee's constitutional rights of free speech. Id.

      Section (Sec. 31-15q cited in error) constitutes a waiver of sovereign immunity. 15 CA 297-302. See certification for appeal of 209 C. 807. Cited. 20 CA 231, 234-236, 238, 240, 241. Cited. 33 CA 600, 601. Cited. 40 CA 577, 586. Cited. 45 CA 712. Statute applies to some activities and speech that occur at the workplace. 48 CA 618. Plaintiff's failure to display an American flag at his workstation is not constitutionally protected speech to which the statute applies since plaintiff's expression did not involve a matter of public concern. Id. Nothing in the legislative history indicates that legislature's use of term "costs" in either Sec. 31-51m or this section was intended to authorize court to award prevailing party the cost of an economist. Further, because an economist is not a listed expert witness whose cost may be reimbursed under Sec. 52-260 (f), testimonial fees of plaintiff's expert economist cannot be reimbursed. 79 CA 501.

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