Chamber Connection | September 2020
Reopening Resources & Information
A Message From Newsletter Sponsor,
Post University
Let Us Help You Invest In Your Employees
The COVID-19 pandemic has given businesses like yours an unexpected opportunity to invest in your employees and prepare for your comeback. We can help.

Post University offers an array of degree and certificate programs designed to help organizations like yours re-tool your workforce, improve customer relations, and invest in key-performers. We offer your employees the opportunity to further their skills to better their knowledge, grow in their field or broaden their experience. Our team works with you to customize learning plans and career paths that best meet your business needs. We offer your employees flexible and convenient options and personalized advising tailored to adult learners who are ready to advance to the next level or crave additional education to boost their career.
 
We’re a leader in online education.
With more than two decades of excellence in online education, Post University is a pioneer in creating robust and dynamic online experiences for continuing education and adult learners. Our programs are backed by 2,000 faculty and staff specifically trained to teach online courses, a robust technological infrastructure and courses customized for online learning. 

We also offer competitive and progressive tuition benefit programs, allowing you to bring continuing education directly to your employees at an affordable cost. To learn more, contact our Corporate Partnership Team at partnerships@post.edu.
HR Corner: When Clothes Are The Message- Dress Code Policies in the Social Justice Era
This HR Corner is Brought to you by Carmody Torrance Sandak & Hennessey LLP.
Written by: Attorney Amanda C. Nugent.
Amanda C. Nugent is a partner in Carmody’s Labor & Employment and Litigation practice groups. She leads Carmody’s D&I Team and regularly assists clients with developing and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and trainings. 

Chances are good that your organization has a seemingly innocuous dress code policy that prohibits employees from wearing certain clothing and footwear to protect safety or maintain professionalism. Many times, these dress codes prohibit clothing featuring words or slogans that aren’t directly related to the organization. But what happens when employees come to work wearing clothing that violates the dress code, but that expresses a deeply held political or social viewpoint? Telling an employee that they must change out of their Black Lives Matter shirt before the workday starts just feels different than asking them to change out of their flip flops. What is an organization to do when faced with an employee who wants to show their support for black lives, or LGBTQ+ rights, or a presidential candidate, through dress-code violating apparel?

The Whole Foods Example
In June, employees from the Whole Foods store in Cambridge, Massachusetts began protesting after being told they couldn’t wear protective face masks that said “Black Lives Matter” at work.  Whole Foods said the masks violated the dress code policy, which prohibits employees from wearing clothing with slogans, messages, logos or advertising that aren’t company related. 
Inspired by these protests, a group of employees at Whole Foods’ Milford, Connecticut store made tee-shirts that quoted a line from Whole Foods’ own official public statement following the murder of George Floyd that said, “Racism Has No Place Here”, and wore them to work in lieu of “Black Lives Matter” clothing. Whole Foods still objected to these shirts as violating the dress code and sent the offending employees home, which led to more employee protests here in Connecticut.
In July, these issues came to a head when a group of Whole Foods employees from several states, including one who was terminated from the Cambridge, Massachusetts store following the Black Lives Matter mask protests, filed a putative class action lawsuit against the company, alleging that they suffered discrimination and retaliation for wearing “Black Lives Matter” masks and pins at work. These employees claimed that Whole Foods selectively enforced their dress code to punish employees showing support for Black Lives Matter only and did not discipline employees who wore messages expressing support for other political or social movements, such as LGBTQ+ rights.
Whole Foods has just responded to these allegations, stating, among other arguments, that it neutrally and consistently applied its dress code policy, which it views as an important tool to ban clothing with messages that customers or employees may find offensive.
  
The Starbucks Example
Starbucks has taken a markedly different approach to the same issue. Originally the coffee giant indicated that it would not allow its Baristas to wear clothing bearing the phrase “Black Lives Matter” as it violated the company’s dress code which prohibited slogans that advocate a political, religious or personal view. But only days later, Starbucks reversed course and adjusted its policy to allow “Black Lives Matter” garb, citing feedback it heard from employees. Starbucks then doubled down on this decision and created its own Black Lives Matter shirt, which it distributed to 250,000 employees nationwide. 

The Takeaway
Dress codes are going to face increasing scrutiny as our nation’s participation in social justice movements deepens. The most legal risk comes when a dress code policy is only selectively enforced. That can create the impression that your organization is favoring one group over another or worse, discriminating against a subset of employees. If your organization is not comfortable with an across-the-board enforcement approach to your current policy, perhaps it’s time to revisit that dress code to see if revisions are necessary. It’s a best practice to revisit policies periodically to make sure that they are up to date and continue to make sense for your organization. Dress codes can present a variety of legal issues for employers if they are poorly drafted and/or not consistently enforced. 

This information is for educational purposes only to provide general information and a general understanding of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not establish any attorney-client relationship. 
Welcome New Members:
A warm welcome to our newest members!* We encourage you to connect with them soon and see where your next partnership can be.


*Joined 7/28/2020- 9/9/2020
Upcoming Events
Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
September 16th
9:30 AM
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Chamber Golf Challenge
September 28th
11:00 AM
Update from the Mayor: Virtual Meeting with Mayor Neil O'Leary
September 30th
2:00 PM
5th District Congressional Debate
October 7th
10:00 AM
Business Women's Forum
October 14th
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Thank You for Your Support
Our sincere thanks go out to the following members who have supported our virtual event efforts over the past month through attendance donations. We could not do what we do without your support. THANK YOU!
Diane Ploch,
Ploch Creative Communications

Justin Golden,
Golden Technology Services

Julie Clark,
Natural Health & Wellness
Pat Hayden,
UniMetal Surface Finishing

Victoria Cipriano,
Saint Mary's Hospital
Business Women's Forum Goes Virtual
On October 14th, the BWF team will present the Forum’s first-ever Virtual Conference for women across the state and beyond from 1-5 PM EST. The Forum will provide valuable and engaging sessions to attendees online, so they can log in from the comfort of their home or office. In addition to the keynote session with Golden Globe award-winning actress and best-selling author Valerie Bertinelli, the BWF will feature sessions with award-winning speaker Amanda Gore, as well as professional trainers Debbie Fay of Bespeak Presentation Solutions and Cindy Maher and Jamie Guite of Leading Edge Coaches. The VIP All-Access Ticket gives attendees access to all training and virtual networking content, perks delivered directly to your door, and exclusive prize entries for only $99. For those who are looking solely for training content, there is also a Premier Ticket available for just $49.The virtual format of the conference will include several ways for attendees to connect and converse online with each other, as well as our speakers and sponsors, before and after the event. 
Leadership Greater Waterbury
Recruiting for the Class of 2021
Apply to the Class of 2021 Today!
What is Leadership Greater Waterbury?
Leadership Greater Waterbury is a personal and career development program which creates lifelong partnerships and develops community awareness among future leaders in civic, professional and community organizations in the Greater Waterbury area. Its goal is to provide a creative, interactive environment for the participants to meet regional leaders and discuss the challenges that affect Greater Waterbury.

Why Leadership Greater Waterbury?
• Business participants are exposed to multiple perspectives regarding Greater Waterbury’s business & civic arena, community challenges, opportunities and assets.
• Opportunities to give back throughout the Greater Waterbury region.
• Participants are introduced to regional leaders and facilitators from public, private and nonprofit businesses as well as 400+ alumni.
• Personal and business coaching through behavioral assessments provided by Cipriano Training, LLC.
• Professional skill-building trainings from Dale Carnegie Training on topics such as Crisis Management, Communication, Project &Team Management, Presentation Skills, and more.
Digital Networking
The Chamber is committed to keeping our members connected - digitally! We are using Zoom to hold digital networking meetings. Email Courtney at cligi@waterburychamber.com to get the details for the meetings below.

These dates and times don't work for you, but you're still interested in virtual networking? Let Courtney know so she can reach out to you with more opportunities.
Wake Up Your Business
Next Meeting: September 11th @ 8 AM
After that: September 25th @ 8 AM
Hiring & Training Programs Available
Do you need help finding qualified workers for your business? Could you use some financial assistance to offset the cost of hiring and training new workers, or training your existing workforce?

The Waterbury Regional Chamber is working with the Northwest Regional Workforce Investments Board to help businesses in Greater Waterbury learn more about the available hiring and training programs and whether they qualify for them. This includes providing information on posting jobs on the states CThires.com website, as well as information about Manufacturing Innovation Fund Incumbent Worker Training, the apprenticeship program, hiring veterans and on-the-job training programs.

For more information, contact Dave Krechevsky, the Chamber's director of public policy and economic development, at dkrechevsky@waterburychamber.com
PLUS: Need a Job Now?

NeedAJobNow.usNLx.com contains over 400,000 job openings and continues to grow daily. While many employers are downsizing their staff, others are significantly increasing their hiring efforts due to current demands. Through this initiative, DirectEmployers and National Association of State Workforce Agencies offers a way to bridge the gap between job supply and demand by offering an easy way for job seekers to gain access to current open positions and for employers to fill positions quickly and efficiently during these difficult times.
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