In a decision that marks a clear departure from national case law, the Connecticut Supreme Court recently expanded the protection of employees who speak out against their employers.
In Trusz v. UBS Realty Investors the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected the standard set by the U.S. Supreme Court as to the U.S. Constitution, ruling, in effect, that the state constitution affords Connecticut employees broader protection than federal law. In a case called Garcetti v. Ceballos, the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that employee statements made as part of their official duties were not protected. In Trusz the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected that exception as to the Connecticut Constitution.
As such, even statements made by an employee as part of their official duties may be protected under Connecticut law assuming the other requirements for bringing a free speech claim are met, e.g. it must be a matter of public (not private) concern. This means that as compared to other employers throughout the rest of the Country, a Connecticut employer has less latitude to discipline an employee who speaks out against their employer, even if the statements are associated with their regular job duties. Connecticut employers seeking to discipline an employee for speaking out against them should think twice and consult with counsel before doing so.