Today I want to talk about a housing discrimination claim.  But wait! It has significant relevance to employment discrimination claims so bear with me for a second.

As an additional incentive, if you’ve been following the Marvel movies, this case will ALSO have elements of a multi-verse with multiple versions of the CHRO in play, so consider this case to be “Loki” for legal geeks. (If you don’t understand, your kids will.)

Ok, back to the law.

The story first starts in 2012 when the Connecticut Supreme Court upheld an award of $95,000 in noneconomic damages to an employee in an harassment claim, even though the employee did not offer any expert or medical testimony on the subject and provided very little to no evidence on it, according to the court’s opinion.

The case, Patino v. Birken Mfg, has often been cited for the proposition that noneconomic damages will not be overturned unless they are excessive or shocking.  The Court’s decision cited several other cases to compare the verdicts in those cases with that one.  These types of cases are also what is known as “garden variety” emotional distress damages.

Flash forward to 2015 and a case of housing discrimination filed at the CHRO.  The condominium never appeared in the case to defend itself, which resulted in a default judgment.  A hearing in damages was then held. At the hearing, the CHRO requested $75,000 in noneconomic damages on behalf of the individual. However, the referee awarded $15,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress. Victory and case closed, right?

Nope. Then things get interesting. The CHRO appealed the decision of its own referee, contending the damages were insufficient.  The Superior Court remanded the case for further decision and on remand, the referee did not change the damages award.  The CHRO then appealed again to the Superior Court which affirmed the decision.

Which led to an appeal to the Connecticut Appellate with the CHRO representing the CHRO (Plaintiff) and the CHRO representing the CHRO (Defendant).

(Don’t try to think too much about it; your head will spin but you can read footnote 1 for an explanation where the court notes “The present case thus presents us with the unusual situation of both parties on appeal advocating for the same
interests; specifically, asking this court to reverse the decision of the Superior Court, vacate the referee’s award of damages and remand the case for a new calculation of damages.”)

For good measure, the State of Connecticut filed a brief as amicus curiae.   (That’s a lot of tax dollars hard at work, as they say.)

On appeal in CHRO v. Cantillon, both versions of the CHRO asked the court to reverse, claiming a misapplication of prior case law.  Both argued that Patino stands for the proposition that in “garden variety” emotional distress claims, “there is a presumptive monetary range of damages between $30,000 and $125,000.”


Continue Reading CHRO vs. CHRO: How Much is “Garden Variety” Emotional Distress Really Worth

As I continued my deep dive into all the new items of legislation, today will focus on an act that amends the law regarding training and statute of limitations for complaints .

Public Act 21-109 (Senate Bill No. 1023) makes some changes to the affirmative action law which I won’t cover here. But there are

In a decision released on Tuesday, the Connecticut Appellate Court affirmed the dismissal of a state law gender discrimination claim on the grounds that it was barred by the doctrine of res judicata. 

The procedural background of Fernandez v. Mac Motors, Inc. illustrates an important mechanism for employers to use to avoid fighting a

Judging from the calls I’ve fielded over the last few weeks, nearly every employer is thinking about the impact mass vaccinations are having on their workforce.

The questions (and answers), however, are basically the same:

As post-vaccination life kicks in, the complications for employers continue to mount.  No doubt life was a lot harder on lockdown, but some individual decisions for employers were easy — just work from home.

But over the last few weeks, judging from the calls I’m fielding from employers of all sizes, there’s a desire to

Remember 2010?

Those were the days of Lady Gaga’s “Meat Dress”. You could also play “Angry Birds” on your new smartphone.

And discrimination complaints to the EEOC were about at their all-time high.

But over the last few years — and in particular, last year — discrimination and retaliation claims have been down.

A LOT.

A few years ago, I talked with some students about a report they were doing for NPR about how hairstyles and race have been historically intertwined.

Earlier this week, the Connecticut General Assembly gave final approval a bill that seeks to right some of these historical wrongs by making it illegal to discriminate in employment

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. 

It’s the time when I delve into the annual report of case statistics released by the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  It’s a time to look for trends. And yes, I get excited about this report every year.

The most obvious trend? Case filings are down.

Well, it’s over.

Joe Biden will be the next President of the United States effective January 20, 2021.

For employers, the last several years have been filled with several retreats from existing policies.   And over the last year in particular, the Trump administration was busy rolling out new regulations for employers to follow.  It’s not

We are still several months away from a vaccine for COVID-19, and probably still even further away from one that will be readily available to the general population.

But I’ve already heard grumblings from employers wondering — can I compel employees to get a vaccine when one is available for the coronavirus?

It’s a