Continuing my series of posts on the public program produced by the CHRO on new Public Act 11-237 (for prior posts go here and here), the remainder of the program focused on the changes to the CHRO procedures including a new early mediation option.
Various legal staff members provided the details on the new act through a Powerpoint presentation (which you can view below). Throughout the presentation, however, feedback was sought from various panel members made up of attorneys representing employers and employees throughout the state. I was invited to represent the “employer” perspective.
The goals of the new law are certainly laudable:
- Expedite case processing
- Focus on early mediation of cases
- Make the best use of limited CHRO resources
- Clear CHRO backlog
- Increase uniformity among the regional offices
- Involve legal department with case processing
- Increase use of technology
How does the CHRO believe that the new law will accomplish this? Through several key changes.
- If cases are dismissed on a Merit Assessment Review, the legal department will review those cases to provide more consistency
- After a case is retained for investigation, an early mediation will now get scheduled quickly
- Moreover, a specific investigator will also be assigned to the case early on to prevent the case from “sitting in file drawers”
- Another major change is that the parties can seek an expedited legal review which could, in some circumstances, send the case directly to a Public Hearing.
- Finally, the CHRO will also now be using e-mail as the primary means of communicating.
Overall, I expressed optimism on the proposed changes. But I think we’ll only be able to tell whether these changes are truly working in another year or so. In the meantime, attorneys and the companies they represent should be prepared to address these new procedures and figure out how these procedures will change the strategy that employers have used at the agency.