The dust is still settling on the flurry of activity in the closing hours of the General Assembly last night. It’s going to take a few days to get caught up on all the bills that were passed.  Watch for more updates soon.

Changes are Happening for CHRO

One of the bills that will merit a closer look is House Bill 6595 which amends some of the processes that the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has been using. You can find the text of the bill here (and as amended by this amendment too).

Among the changes present in the bill:

  • The bill eliminates the “certified mail” requirement in many instances, and allows for e-mail to be used to transmit correspondence and notices. (Welcome to the 21st century, CHRO!)
  • The bill gives the CHRO more time to conduct a merit assessment review if an employer asks for more time to respond to the complaint.
  • The bill provides an internal, automatic review of cases dismissed during the merit assessment review (MAR) process.
  • It also allows a complainant to request a right to sue after his or her complaint has been dismissed at the MAR stage.
  • If a complaint gets through MAR, then the bill sets up a new mandatory mediation conference within 60 days.  Previously, the parties might have to wait months (or longer) before a mediation and investigation occurred.
  • If the mediation does not resolve the situation the case, the CHRO then has the option of requesting early legal intervention.
  • If a request for early legal intervention is made, the bill states that the executive director has 90 days to decide whether the case should be heard further or the complaint dismissed.  The investigator has to then decide whether to adopt the executive director’s recommendations.
  • If a complainant fails to attend a fact-finding conference, the CHRO can also dismiss the complaint, according to the bill.
  • The bill also clarifies how private attorney fees will be awarded.
  • Lastly, the bill changes the time period that a complainant must wait to request a release of jurisdiction from CHRO from 210 to 180 days, allowing complainants who wish to proceed in court to begin the process sooner.

All told the changes seem to streamline the process and allow for opportunities for the CHRO to tackle the claims more quickly.

If signed by the Governor, which is expected, the bill will become effective October 1, 2011.