NEW HAVEN — Alexion Pharmaceuticals’ decision to move its global headquarters to New Haven will relocate an existing workforce of more than 350 employees to the Elm City, and also add up to 300 new jobs in Connecticut, according to the governor’s office. Having outgrown its current Cheshire space, the company plans to build a new facility in New Haven’s Downtown Crossing development at 100 College Street. Winstanley Enterprises is helming the $100 million construction project, which will include office, research retail and parking space. Alexion’s move was precipitated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s “First Five” program, which offers incentive packages of grants, low-interest loans and tax credits to companies agreeing to create significant numbers of jobs.
Connecticut companies are reminded that the Job Expansion Tax Credit provides $500 in tax credits to qualifying companies every month, for up to three years, for every new full-time job hired between January 1, 2012 and January 1, 2014. That credit could be increased to $900 under special circumstances, including the new employee’s status as either a veteran, a recipient of unemployment benefits, or a recipient of vocational rehabilitative services from the Bureau of Rehabilitative Services. To find out how your business can qualify, visit ct.gov/ecd/cwp/view.asp?a=1097&q=437460 and scroll down to the “Job Expansion Tax Credit” section.
WEST HAVEN — Cultivating a successful team of engaged, contributing employees has earned Filomeno & Co. plaudits from members of the business community. The firm was among seven privately held companies honored at the recent Business Champions Awards Breakfast. Filomeno, a business accounting advisory firm, practices Open Book Management in conjunction with employee profit sharing and a bonus plan. It was honored in the Workforce category in recognition of Filomeno’s efforts to engage employees and solicit and utilize their ideas and input. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was on hand to congratulate the company and other award recipients. “We have an outstanding team at Filomeno & Company,” said Tom Filomeno, the company’s managing partner. “We strive to create a great culture and passionately serve our clients so receiving this award is especially meaningful to us.” Filomeno offers services ranging from auditing to business valuations to corporate, individual and strategic tax advising to fraud prevention. It has offices in West Haven and West Hartford. The Business Champions Awards Breakfast was presented in June by the MetroHartford Alliance and the Hartford Business Journal.
WETHERSFIELD — The state Department of Labor’s initial estimates for June regarding the state workforce show that the unemployment rate rose slightly, to 8.1 percent, even amid a net gain in job growth. “June’s mixed results are a mirror of the strengths and weaknesses of the current job market,” said Andy Condon, director of DOL’s Office of Research, in a written summary of the data. “Overall job growth is slow, though the private sector continues to show a decent recovery. Unfortunately, the jump in our unemployment rate indicates we are not growing jobs fast enough to satisfy the need in our economy.”
The number of nonfarm jobs grew by 1,400 (0.1 percent) to 1,629,600. Employment “supersector” gains included education and health services (3,800 positions), leisure and hospitality (2,000), and construction and mining (500). The supersector showing the greatest job loss was government (a net loss of 3,600 positions). The national unemployment rate for June was 8.2 percent.
Inadequately addressing an employee’s sexual-harassment claims could make a company legally liable for monetary damages.
One Connecticut manufacturer found that out last month when the state Supreme Court ruled the company must compensate a former employee more than $90,000 for failing to halt coworkers’ ongoing taunts and hostility regarding the employee’s sexual orientation.
Upholding a prior jury decision, the court ordered Birken Manufacturing Co. to pay Luis Patino $94,500 in damages for failing to take “reasonable steps” to stop harassment. Patino said he had been subjected to homophobic verbal abuse and claimed the situation created a hostile work environment.
The ruling shows that Connecticut’s legal system is serious about enforcing workplace sexual harassment laws, and companies that do not proactively comply risk being subjected to legal action, says Quinnipiac University School of Law faculty member Emanuel Psarakis.
“You’ve got to have a clear and unambiguous policy to specify that you forbid harassment,” says Psarakis, a distinguished practitioner in residence at the law school, who specializes in employment law. “You should have a policy and have a procedure for people making complaints. If you find harassment, you must engage in prompt, effective remedial action.”
Psarakis says company procedures and subsequent action might vary depending on a business’ size and particular situation. For example, while human resources departments routinely field complaints, having an outside entity investigate a grievance might be appropriate in some cases.
“You must respect the privacy of the individual — not only the individual making the complaint, but the individual(s) accused,” notes Psarakis. “They all have rights.”
“Wise employers in this day and age have a policy in place on the bulletin board so people can see it,” he adds. “They have it in employee manuals.”
Laws against sexual harassment are not new; indeed, some have been on the books for as long as four decades, says Psarakis. The fact that this case involved harassment because of sexual orientation does not place it outside the law’s purview, he adds.
In a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the case Oncale vs. Sundowner Offshore Services Inc., the court recognized that any action of a sexual nature creating a hostile work environment is subject to legal action. That includes, states the court decision written by Justice Antonin Scalia, “sex discrimination consisting of same-sex sexual harassment.”
Founded in 1943, Birken Manufacturing Co. is headquartered in Bloomfield. Its principal products are aerospace jet engine components. Patino began working there as a machinist in 1977. He said that in 1991 coworkers began harassing him with pejorative terms meant to insult homosexuals.
Patino said the harassment began to affect him physically to the point where he became noticeably shaken and had trouble sleeping. The quality of his work also was affected, he said. He claimed that although he complained to supervisors and to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities about the harassment, it persisted. Patino’s employment with Birken ended in 2004.
“What’s placed before a jury is the intensity of the harassment, if it goes way beyond ordinary socializing,” explains Psarakis. “The next question placed before a jury is frequency — how often does it happen?”
When a situation gets out of hand, “If it’s conduct the employer knows about, the employer becomes liable,” says Psarakis.
Once an employer is aware of alleged sexual harassment, “You’ve got to take action that’s appropriate,” Psarakis says. That could be reassuring the alleged victim, written warnings to alleged offenders, training of supervisors, or other means of addressing the problem. Psarakis adds that appropriate action “does not mean a transfer for the complainant,” which could be viewed as an attempt to conveniently get rid of the problem rather than confront it head-on.
To help avoid an accusation of sexual-harassment culpability, says Psarakis, “An employer should be able to show it has a system for processing complaints and acts on that system.”
HARTFORD — The state of Connecticut is hiring. A number of summer and seasonal positions are available at state agencies. Jobs categories include clerical/administrative, drivers, greeters/hosts/tour guides, lifeguards/boating classes, recreational/educational/camp programs, food prep/kitchen support, information technology support, and landscape/grounds and park maintenance, among others. To learn more or to apply online, visit ctdol.state.ct.us/Seasonal%20State%20Positions.html.