Blog readers may remember my philosophy on Connecticut Supreme Court cases on employment discrimination — they take on perhaps even more significance than they might otherwise deserve because they happen so infrequently.

But even that philosophy has its limits as a case decided today shows. For most employers in Connecticut, this is one case that you can probably just ignore.  Even employment lawyers like myself will have a tough time getting too excited about this one. 

Only government attorneys will truly find something of interest in this one because it tries to answer the question of whether a state employee can sue the state in state court without first seeking permission from a claims commissioner.  

In Lyon v. Jones (download here), the Connecticut Supreme Court said "no", the employee does NOT need to receive permission from the claims commissioner before filing suit and that the Appellate Court had it wrong when it made that requirement. The court also decided that the employee could not pursue the claim further because she already had the opportunity to pursue her claim in federal court first (and lost).

For employees, the take away from the case is to follow the various procedural requirements  of the statutes. For employers, making sure that employees follow those procedures may be another way to get a case dismissed.

  • Far from a yawner, I believe this is an important case. If the Appellate Court had not been reversed, State employees would have lost their right to a jury trial on important discrimination claims. I don’t know any practicioner in this area that believed that the Claims Commissioner would have granted permission to sue the State. Way to go, Supremes!

  • Daniel Schwartz

    Appreciate your comment Rick. Frankly, since even the STATE disagreed with the appellate court decision, it seemed a foregone conclusion that it would be overturned. So, state employees can rejoice in their right to sue in state court but the decision is not a big surprise. But for private employers, the decision just isn’t going to make any real difference (hence the yawn).