CBIA President Chris DiPentima

Connecticut’s largest business lobby joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in filing a federal lawsuit against Connecticut for a law that prevents employers from requiring employees to remain at meetings where they impart political or religious views.

The law, which was a victory for labor unions, went into effect in July making Connecticut only the second state after Oregon with a so-called captive audience law currently on the books.

CBIA president and CEO Chris DiPentima called the law “an unnecessary and unconstitutional infringement on the rights of employers to communicate with employees in the workplace.”

The lawsuit argues “employers have the right to communicate with their employees about the employers’ viewpoints on politics, unionization, and other labor issues, as well as the right to require employees to attend meetings or otherwise view communications about those issues.” 

However, DiPentima said it didn’t mean it was an easy decision to sue the state.

“We value our working relationships and the open lines of communication with the administration and state policymakers,” DiPentima said.

CBIA tried unsuccessfully to get Gov. Ned Lamont to veto the bill. 

A spokeswoman from Attorney General William Tong said they are reviewing the lawsuit and unable to comment further, but Tong has previously opined about the legality of the law.

Tong argued earlier this year that the new law is materially different than the one former Attorney General George Jepsen said was not feasible.

In 2011, following an 11-hour debate in the House, Jepsen issued an opinion that said it conflicted with federal labor law. Tong said the law was  “beyond the reach of NLRA preemption.”

He has said it’s because there are exemptions in the law. At the same time in a 2019 opinion he admitted the law would face preemption challenged in court. 

CBIA and the plaintiffs argue the “2022 Amendments are overbroad and discriminatory and chill employers’ speech and assembly rights guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. These unconstitutional flaws are magnified by the statute’s vagueness and extreme breadth.”