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

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.

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.

The state rolled out a new website for the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities during this pandemic. As someone who navigated the old site for years, I’m not yet a fan.

One reason? It’s hard to find news and some helpful items are buried.

For example, the CHRO now automatically lists the “Most Popular”

Suppose a national origin discrimination case goes to a jury trial (I know we’re not having jury trials during this pandemic, but humor me).

The jury comes back with a verdict finding for the Plaintiff-employee. But it awards the Plaintiff just one dollar.  Is this a victory?

Before you answer, you should know this happens

The Connecticut Appellate Court issued a new decision (officially released today) that will have important ramifications for employers proceeding with the CHRO mandatory mediation stage.  Specifically, based on this ruling, most settlement discussions during the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities’ mediation stage will be inadmissible in a later court proceeding.   The decision also holds

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities recently announced that it will, upon request, extend the deadline for employers to provide sexual harassment prevention training by 90 days for new employees.

The deadline to complete such training is six months after their start date, absent an extension.

But employers should beware; the announcement has three

Each day of late feels like a week in terms of the firehose of news pouring out each day.

On Monday came news that Italy was going on lockdown.  For a month.

And Connecticut state government rolled out a series of orders that included no travel and limits on meeting sizes to 100