About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

Legal Disclaimer (because, you know, I'm a lawyer)

This Blog/Web Site is made available for educational purposes only as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice (or any legal advice). By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher and / or author nor can such a relationship be created by use of his Blog / Web Site. By using thisBlog / Web Site you understand that any statement on the blog site are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. By using this blog site you understand that the Blog/Web Site is not affiliated with or approved by Wiggin and Dana LLP or International Ride Training LLC. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state or jurisdiction. This blog is not published for advertising or solicitation purposes. Regardless, the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Connecticut's Paid Sick Leave Act (Pt. 3): Of Documentation & Discipline

This week, I've been taking a pretty close look at the new Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Act that is set to impact the hospitality industry in Connecticut starting January 1, 2012.  I've already looked at the inherent ambiguity in the new statute with respect to simply figuring out who is covered and I've taken some time to pick apart the intricacies of the 680-hour threshold for using paid time off.  I wanted to take a few last minutes on this issue to go through a couple of other points that I think could be issues for the amusement and tourism industry in trying to figure out how to comply with this statute.  Namely - how do you avoid abuse of the system?

As I view it, the new Paid Sick Leave law is ripe for abuse in the seasonal employment context.  Why?  Because the sick time accrued is on a "use-it-or-lose-it basis."  While, as I discussed previously, a seasonal employee can carry over their hours worked into the next season, that same employee cannot carry over any sick time that has been accrued.  Moreover, given that, unlike year round employees, seasonal employees know well in advance when their absolute last day of work is going to be, there is an incentive built into the system to encourage seasonal employees to burn sick time.  So what can you do about it?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Connecticut's Paid Sick Leave Act (Part 2): The Magic Number Problem or Why 2013 Will Be Worse Than 2012

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m taking a good look this week at Connecticut’s new Paid Sick Leave Law, which goes into effect January 1, 2012.  Yesterday, I commented on afundamental problem with the law (and its recently issued guidance) withrespect to figuring out if an amusement or tourism employee even qualifies forpaid sick leave in the first place.  Today, though, I want to look at an issue that will uniquely and significantly impact seasonal employers in our industry:  the Magic Number 680.

By now, most employers are probably aware of the significance of this figure.  In case you are not, however, it is one of two threshold "hours-worked" requirements that an employee has to meet before he or she is entitled to use paid sick leave.  It sounds simple and straightforward enough:  an employee is not entitled to use any paid sick leave until 1) he or she has worked a minimum of 680 hours for an employer and 2) the employee has worked an average of ten hours per week in the preceding calendar quarter.  We’ll get to that second one in a few minutes, but for now, I want to concentrate on the first - specifically a facet of the 680-hour rule that is easy to miss and is going to impact seasonal employers and their bottom line in a big way starting in the summer of 2013.  The Connecticut Department of Labor sums it up nicely:  the “680 hour requirement is a one time requirement.  Once service workers meet the 680 hours, they never have to meet it again for the same employer.”  This has potentially huge implications for seasonal operations, not in 2012, but in 2013.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Connecticut's Paid Sick Leave Law: Why Amusement & Tourism Employers Can't Figure Out Who Is Covered.

The Connecticut Department of Labor recently issued its official guidance and interpretation of the newly enacted Connecticut Paid Sick Leave Act, which officially takes effect January 1, 2012.  I've previously written about this act, and being from Connecticut, I have been eagerly awaiting this official interpretation.  On the upside, the DoL's interpretation did help to clarify certain issues that were woefully unclear in the statutory text.  On the downside, the interpretation confirms for me that this new act is going to be a nightmare for Connecticut seasonal employers in the amusement and tourism industry.  The new law imposes several new obligations on all employers, but, with respect to seasonal employers, particularly those in the amusement and tourism industry, this new law is going to pose some unique legal issues that could make compliance daunting.

Connecticut is the only state in the country to have such a law right now, and thus the legislature, the Department of Labor, and (eventually) the courts will be working from a blank slate when it comes to enforcement and interpretation.  Moreover, this legislation is being watched by sister states as a potential model for similar legislation elsewhere.  Given the absence of any history with this kind of legislation, it is virtually certain that Connecticut employers and regulators will face a number uncertainties over the next year as everyone works to "get the bugs out" of this new law.   This week, I'll be doing a few pieces on some of the more troubling and controversial aspects of this new legislation, particularly with respect to the seasonal amusement and tourism industry in our state.  

We start with a really basic question, Who Gets Paid Sick Leave Under The Act?