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Captive Audience Law

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Beginning July 1, 2022, Connecticut Workers Can Leave Captive Audience Meetings

Signed by Governor Lamont on May 17, 2022, Public Act 22-24 protects workers who leave captive audience meetings from being disciplined or fired. The law went into effect on July 1, 2022.


The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) ushered in a wave of union organizing that built the middle class. Since its passage in 1935, employers have often violated the NLRA and are rarely held accountable in a way that discourages anti-union behavior.

For more than 70 years, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has viewed captive audience meetings as permissible under the NLRA, asserting that they do not infringe on an employee’s freedom of expression. Mandatory captive audience meetings often include employer threats of job site closures, wage cuts, layoffs, immigration status and working conditions and make it difficult for workers to act in their own best interests.

In April 2022, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo, a President Biden appointee, issued an internal memo asking the NLRB to reconsider its position on captive audience meetings. While encouraging, such a move will take time and may not provide lasting protections. NLRB members are appointed by the U.S. President and a future President’s appointments could overturn previous decisions. To protect workers, the NLRA must be amended.

The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act restores the right of workers to form a union. Among its many provisions is a ban on employer-sponsored captive audience meetings. The measure has passed the U.S. House of Representatives but is unlikely to be taken up in the divided U.S. Senate.

The Connecticut Solution: Public Act 22-24

After nearly a decade of lobbying by the Connecticut AFL-CIO, the General Assembly passed SB 163 An Act Protecting Employee Freedom of Speech and Conscience (Public Act 22-24). Beginning July 1, 2022, it prohibits all employers, from disciplining or terminating, or threating to discipline or terminate, an employee for refusing to attend employer-sponsored meetings, listen to speech, or view communications primarily intended to convey the employer’s opinion about religious or political matters.

“Political matters” include (1) elections for political office (2) political parties, (3) proposals to change legislation or regulations, and (4) decisions to join or support a political party or political, civic, community, fraternal, or labor organization.

“Religious matters” include (1) religious affiliation and practice and (2) decisions to join or support a religious organization or association.

Public Act 22-24 allows workers to sue employers for the full amount of gross lost wages or compensation, with costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.

Exemptions to Public Act 22-24:

  • Employers may communicate information required by law or that employees need to know to perform their jobs.
  • Employers can require managerial and supervisory employees to listen or discuss religion and politics.
  • Higher education institutions can communicate with employees about politics and religion when it is part of coursework, a symposia, or an academic program.
  • Religious organizations can communicate about religious matters with their own employees.
  • Casual conversations about religion or politics are not prohibited.

Public Act 22-24 Does Not:

  • Limit employer speech or create an employer gag order. Employers can say whatever they want to whomever they want. Public Act 22-24 prohibits them from disciplining or firing workers for exercising their freedom of speech.
  • Prevent an employer from discussing health and safety issues, including COVID standards and vaccine protocols, with employees.
  • Allow workers to leave meetings where job-related issues are being addressed, including discussions about relevant laws and regulations.
  • Expose employers to unnecessary lawsuits. They can only be sued if they fire or discipline workers for exercising their freedom of speech on religious or political matters.

What Does it Mean?

Union organizers can and should inform Connecticut workers seeking to form a union, that beginning July 1, 2022, they can get up and leave a captive audience meeting, whether it’s led by the employer, their union-busting consultants, or any other representative, and go back to work without fear of being disciplined or terminated. If the employer fails to comply, the worker can sue for lost wages and other costs.

Anatomy of a Captive Audience Meeting

Anatomy of a Captive Audience Meeting is a segment for workers and organizers to experience the emotions of captive audience meetings before the real thing. Credit and thanks are due to LaborLab for putting together this video!

Here are Connecticut workers explaining what it’s like to go through a captive audience meeting:

Hear the full story about captive audience meetings from organizers and workers:

Organizing Director Jessica Petronella Breaks Down Captive Audience Meetings

Worker describes how captive audience meetings erode human dignity


Dollar General Workers Expose Company's Illegal Union-Busting


Hospitals have tried to coerce employee speech. We can stop it.


Organizer Describes Employer Threats & Intimidation During a Union Organizing Campaign


School Bus Companies Have Held Captive Audience Meetings to Intimidate Workers


Workers are Human Beings. SB 163 Will Help Them Fight Injustice at Work.


No One Should Be Intimidated or Afraid at Work.

Nurse Was Forced Into Supply Closet for Captive Audience Meeting

Workers Shouldn’t Be Cornered and Threatened at Work