Sometimes it’s hard to appreciate how things have changed since the pandemic hit and the challenges we face going forward.

I was thinking about all those little things over the weekend when I put pocket change in my little “change jar” that I keep in my bedroom.

You see, prior to the pandemic, at the

When I got my first Macintosh computer in college, I was fascinated by little soundbites that you could add and play.

One of my favorites was a clip from the movie “2001” where Hal, the seemingly sentient space computer, says to an astronaut: “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” in response to

Back in January 2020, I was one of the first legal bloggers to highlight the risks of a new coronavirus and asking the question: What if it spreads.  Over the next several weeks, I started to raise the alarm — so much so that my friend Kate called me out for being a “doomsday lawyer”. 

As the pandemic continues to rage on, the EEOC quietly updated its COVID guidance earlier this month rolling back some (but not all) of the discretion afforded to employers.

The biggest change has to do with testing as a condition of returning or remaining at work.  The new guidance puts some bumpers on employers’ use

It’s Wednesday afternoon and you get an email from a service that receives lawsuits on your behalf.

“Congratulations! You are the recipient of a new lawsuit!”

No, it doesn’t really say that.

Rather, it’ll basically attach a copy of the lawsuit and remind you that the clock is ticking for a response.

It might as

Over the weekend, I was joking with a friend that we’ve seen more changes in employment law in the last 18 months than the last 18 years.

That’s an exaggeration of course. But it certainly does feel like there’s been a lot of changes. Sometimes it’s hard to catch up. So rather than a long

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