Next week, one of my colleagues, Peter Murphy will be at the Connecticut Bar Association to present a program entitled “CHRO 101 – From Complaint to Public Hearing”. Full details are available at the CBA website.
The program includes a discussion of
- The Complaint Process, MAR (Merit Assessment Review), and Mandatory Mediation,
- Responding to the Complaint and Fact-finding,
- Reasonable Cause and Public Hearings, and
- Considerations for Appeal to the Superior Court
It promises to be an informative session. In addition to Peter will be The Honorable Henry S. Cohn, Connecticut Superior Court, Judicial District of New Britain, New Britain, Mary Kelly from Livingston Adler Pulda Meiklejohn & Kelly PC, Hartford, and Michele C. Mount, Referee, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
From my perspective, I’d add three observations.
First, the CHRO moves slow. Very slow. While there has been a sincere effort now to close and move cases faster, old habits die hard. Employers who expect things to happen quickly at the CHRO will be sorely disappointed.
Second, there is still a good deal of inconsistency between the regions of the CHRO. In addition, each investigator has his or her own style and quirks. As a result, for employers that are unfamiliar with the process it is crucial to talk with counsel about what you can expect with a particular investigator or in a specific CHRO office.
Third, the CHRO remains permissive of lousy discrimination claims. What do I mean? The system does not do a good job of getting claims that have no or very little legal merit to them out of the system. As a result, employers are often times forced to spend thousands of dollars to defend itself at the administrative level. Worse, they may feel pressure to settle those claims for “nuisance” value even though the claims ought to be readily dismissed, just to avoid future costs.
Of course, there is new leadership at the helm so it’s also fair to say that employers should not expect the agency to remain static. Changes are continuing to be made so its important for employers to stay vigilent.
Having talked with Peter, there are lots of other little tips that you can expect at the presentation. So it promises to be a worthwhile program to attend.
The CBA has another Labor & Employment Law program scheduled for next week as well at the Farms Country Club in Wallingford. Full details on that program are also available on the CHRO website.