In Connecticut, it’s well known that the state agency responsible for investigating complaints, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has been the subject  of lots of discussion and criticism for over a decade, dating back to the years under Executive Director Louis Martin.

Recently, a new series of criticisms have been heard about the agency, and the agency appears to be having difficulty keeping up with the caseload.  As such, Governor Jodi Rell has quietly formed a working group to review the agency and its ability to carry out its stated goals.

A recent article by the Waterbury Republican-American picks up the story from here:

The review is expected to take several months, said Christopher Cooper, the governor’s chief spokesman. He said the assessment grew out of contacts between the state NAACP and the governor’s office this summer.

There are well-documented problems at the human rights commission, including a backlog of complaints, high caseloads for investigators, and allegations of discrimination within the agency itself. Additionally, three executive directors have left under questionable circumstances in the last 10 years.

Cooper said the commission’s troubles entered into Rell’s decision to look into its possible restructuring….

The governor’s working group initially met last month; its second meeting is scheduled for Dec. 13.

Ann Noble, the governor’s deputy counsel, is heading the working group. It also includes representatives from the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the NAACP, the state’s African-American Affairs Commission, Latino, Puerto Rican Affairs Commission and Commission on Aging, and the University of Connecticut’s Asian American Cultural Center.

In the article, I was asked to comment on the issues facing the CHRO.  I’ll let you read the article (in part, to give the intrepid reporter, Paul Hughes, credit for the article) but suffice to say that I indicated that more needs to be done to speed up the resolution of cases.  Indeed, cases are falling further and further behind, while the caseloads of the investigators increase.

This is an issue that affect both the employee and the employer.  Neither side can be happy with the delays that are plaguing the agency right now.  It increases the cost of litigation to both sides — which can only serve to make settlement more difficult down the road.

For an agency that has had its share of difficulties over the years, a working group to review it is certainly a welcome addition.   There will be no shortage of issues for the group to address.  Hopefully, the group will reach out to practitioners from both sides of the cases to provide the group with additional feedback and suggestions.