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
Last year, the General Assembly considered changes to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. That bill did not receive a final vote. This year, it’s back but recently died in the Judiciary Committee, according to the CBIA. Will it get attached to another bill? Will it be tweaked further this fall in preparation for next year’s term? My colleague, Christopher Parkin, chimes in with the details and why employers need to keep an eye on any proposed changes.
The ink is still drying on the most recent round of changes at the CHRO, the massive amendments known as PA 11-237 (in fact, the CHRO website still points to old versions of the General Statutes), but the legislature has been grappling with proposed changes to the statutes that govern the CHRO in the last few months.
These amendments, Senate Bill 385, represent a considerable effort to clean up antiquated language and recodify the statutes to make them more accessible to the public.
Among the hundreds of technical amendments built into the bill are plenty of new substantive changes that employers and their counsel will need to become familiar with. Recently the CBIA has noted that this particular effort has seemed to die in committee; however, the bill is likely to reappear at one point or another. Here are the details and the impact on employers when this is considered again.
Investigator and mediator will no longer be the same person
The CHRO has long been criticized for its practice of combining the mediation and investigation process by assigning a single investigator to handle both duties, a process the Commission has insisted is a function of insufficient funding. Until recently, mediations and fact findings were very frequently held consecutively in one marathon day.
Nobody is best served when these processes are combined. Neither employers nor employees can fully trust the confidentiality of the mediation process when the mediator will be tasked with soliciting testimony a few hours later if the case doesn’t settle.
It’s also not fair to the investigators to expect that they can fully partition their brain between mediation and investigation to conduct both appropriately.