Discrimination & Harassment

Yesterday I talked about a new law that will impact the hiring process. But there’s another new law that employers need to comply with starting October 1, 2021. This one, though, is simpler than some of the others. If you want to look at the law itself, it’s Public Act 21-69.

The law amends existing

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

Continuing my deeper dive this week into new laws from the General Assembly, today’s post tackles Public Act 21-69, which goes into effect October 1, 2021.

The law amends existing law by making it a discriminatory practice for an employer or an employer’s agent to request or require an applicant provide their:

  • age
  • date

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

If you’re calling the federal courts today (Friday), odds are you may not get someone.  Yesterday, President Biden signed a bill making it law that Juneteenth (which is a Saturday) is now a federal holiday.  The day commemorates the end of slavery in the United States when Union general Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston and

The General Assembly early today gave final approval to a bill that will legalize marijuana/cannabis use in Connecticut.

It is a massive shift and the bill legalizing it is massive too.  (Heck, the summary of the bill is 184 pages!)

The bill creates a whole new set of rules for employers — most of which

If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know that the budget implementer bill in the state legislature always contains more than just budget items. It’s a “must-pass” bill that normally has items that, for one reason or another, didn’t pass during the regular session but that are important to various legislators.

It

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

It’s late March, which means that it’s too soon to predict which bills at the Connecticut General Assembly are going to have enough support for final passage, but not too soon to take a look at what is on the table.

By “on the table”, I mean bills that have been voted out of the