Some cases are easy to explain in a short blog post.

This is not one of them.

But a new Connecticut Appellate Court case released today, Grasso v. Connecticut Hospice, Inc. (download here)  has too many nuggets of information to pass up.  It is an example to employers about how cases never truly seem to be over in this litigious climate and that details are important — even in settlement agreements. 

Background Facts

Here are the background facts:

  • Plaintiff employee worked as an employee for the hospice from 1998-2010. 
  • In 2009, she filed two complaints with OSHA regarding some defective chairs.  The administration ordered the hospice to repair the chairs.
  • Later that year, the Plaintiff then filed a whistleblower complaint with OSHA claiming that she had been retaliated against and harassed since the filing of the OSHA complaints. The administration found “reasonable cause” to believe a violation had occurred.
  • Thus in January 2010, the Hospice and Plaintiff entered into a settlement agreement on the whistleblower complaint where she worked as a part time employee in two offices.  The agreement contained a release of future claims for events that occurred prior to the execution of the agreement.
  • End of story, right? Wrong. One week later, the Plaintiff-Employee wrote to the company and alleged that they were breaching the settlement agreement.  Later that year, she quits.
  • You know what happens next, right? She filed a six-count complaint in Superior Court alleging a whistleblower violation, breach of the settlement agreement, breach of the employee handbook and claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress.   The defendant filed a counterclaim asking for declaratory judgment on the release she signed.  The Superior Court granted summary judgment to the employer.

The legal rulings

Over the years, I’ve openly questioned whether the CHRO has been improperly awarding emotional distress damages and attorneys fees in employment discrimination claims.  

Indeed, back in February 2009, I noted “Nearly 15 years ago, the Connecticut Supreme Court came out with a pair of decisions that seemed to put to rest the question of

Back in February 2009, I talked at length about whether compensatory damages (for things such as emotional distress) was properly awarded in employment discrimination claims that proceeded to a hearing at the CHRO.  I went on to say back then that I believed the agency and the human rights referees at the agency had been

UPDATED 1/26/09

A part-time secretary who worked for three weeks before resigning is entitled to $15,000 in emotional distress damages and six months back pay, according to a recent CHRO Hearing Officer decision.  The case is particularly notable because the company was Claywell Electric, run by the now-jailed Kurt Claywell.

The employer in the case

For companies involved in employment discrimination litigation, there is always a question of how far to push on discovery issues. 

A new case decided this week in U.S. District Court in Connecticut allows employers to push pretty hard to get an employee’s medical and therapist records. In order for that to happen, the employee needs to put