Last month, I noted that the CHRO was holding an informational session about the agency and lauded the apparent intent. For those who missed it, it is now available on-demand through Connecticut’s public affairs network, CT-N (or you can watch it below).
It runs about 90 minutes. You might be wondering if you should watch. The short answer: If you know about the CHRO process, then probably not. For nearly 50 minutes, various speakers talk fairly dryly about the process. Frankly, you can read a summary about the process or read the regulations in less time. Four of the five hearing officers did talk about the public hearing process at length, but considering how few cases get decided, that portion of the discussion is not going to apply to many people.
And what of the remainder? Well, the first 15 minutes or so featured some mildly-amusing vignettes acted out by three CHRO employees illustrating possible discrimination in housing and in employment. Each of the situations presented, however, raised obvious legal issues. It would have been far more interesting to talk about the more difficult issues in employment law or at least propose possible solutions.
One employee-side attorney was also asked to speak. She provided some guidance to people who may be considering filing a claim. She provided some practical points from that perspective, including pointing out that not everything that happens in the workplace is illegal discrimination. But why not invite a management-side attorney for some additional thoughts (and even another plaintiff-side attorney)? At the very least, another outside speaker would take away the appearance that the CHRO was endorsing one particular attorney.
After the main presentation walking through the process, attendees were told that two CHRO workers were available to help file complaints for individuals or answer questions. "Don’t be shy", said the lead presenter, noting that the CHRO can’t give out "legal advice" either.
The last 30 minutes or so was spent on questions from the audience. A few notable points:
- Are documents at the CHRO subject to an FOI request? Mostly no (the full answer is available around time 1:08). While the parties have full access to all documents, non-parties can only access the final disposition of the case after they are decided. (Information about the public hearings is also available in limited respects.)
- Can undocumented workers bring a CHRO claim (1:19)? Yes, according to the CHRO, adding that they would investigate it as well. But the CHRO responded that it make take some involvement from the Department of Justice to provide that worker with additional protections.
Overall, the CHRO’s informational session seemed to accomplish its stated goal of laying out what the agency was about. For more about the session and the goings on about the CHRO, you can check out their new monthly newsletter. (The monthly meeting of the Commissioners is also being held today at 2 p.m.)