HARTFORD — Rep. Rob Sampson today voted against controversial legislation aimed a muzzling the rights of employers to talk freely to employees about subjects that affect their jobs. Sampson, member of the Appropriations Committee, contends An Act Concerning Captive Audience Meetings stands opposite of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s claim that Connecticut is “open for business.”
“This is only one in a long stream of bills put forth by majority Democrats that seems to actively chip away at businesses in this state, almost treating them as if they are an enemy,” Sampson said. “I am truly shocked at the arrogance of the legislature that they feel they can interfere with virtually any aspect of the relationship between employers and employees.”
The so-called “Captive Audience” bill would prohibit meetings when the subject concerns an employer’s position on “political” matters. And under the bill’s provisions, employees who claim to have been required to attend such a meeting can file suit against an employer within 90 days of an alleged violation.
For an example: The bill would prevent a small manufacturing firm serving as a subcontractor in Connecticut’s defense industry from holding a meeting to discuss pending federal legislation affecting the business and asking employees to contact their congressmen to urge support or opposition.
Opponents of the bill (H.B. 5460), which include a tremendous number of business owners and business advocates, say that simply targeting “political” matters is unreasonably vague—so vague that it opens the door for subjective interpretation, abuse and frivolous lawsuits from employees against their employers.
What’s more, the bill doesn’t not define what constitutes a “captive” audience, leaving the door open for an employee to file suit over a quick discussion at a water cooler.
The “Captive Audience” proposal is yet another bill in a string of proposals from Democrats that harm the state’s ability to grow private sector jobs—including the controversial “paid sick leave” bill Democrats pushed through the Appropriations Committee earlier this week. The Hartford Courant’s editorial board recently chided Democrat lawmakers for their anti-business attitude shortly after Chief Executive magazine, once again, ranked Connecticut among the states least friendly to business.
Democrats passed the controversial bill just after 1 a.m. by a 78 to 65 vote following an 11-hour debate.