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 week, I had the opportunity to listen in on an informative CLE program sponsored by the Practicing Law Institute on video mediation. I’ve already participated in several of these mediations and have started incorporating them into the mediations that I do for other attorneys.
The term “video mediation” is still a work in progress.…
It’s sometimes easy to forget that the government shutdown has very real-world implications. Case in point? The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
That doesn’t mean that the time limits for filing a charge have been extended. Generally, federal claims…
The holidays are here and you know what that means: New Year’s Resolutions. I recently caught up with Attorney Sarah Poriss who I’ve known for many years and realized she had an interesting perspective for employers and how to start the year off right. Sarah runs her own small firm focusing, in part, on foreclosures for individuals. Recently, she’s been handling matters for homeowners impacted by the crumbling foundation crisis happening in eastern Connecticut. What follows is an edited online conversation we had following my meeting with her and continues a long-running (if rarely repeated) series I’ve done conducting interviews with people outside my firm. I hope you enjoy.
Dan: So, before we talk about crumbling foundations, you had mentioned that you’ve gotten a great appreciation for an employer’s perspective by running your own business. What have you seen?
Sarah: Now that I am an employer, I have begun to appreciate the value of a focused and efficient staff. It can be distracting enough when something good or exciting happens in the life of one of my staff; it’s even worse when they experience something stressful or tragic.
My goal is to provide a workplace that allows time for their family and personal needs, but I can only go so far when it comes to ensuring they are not distracted by the stress of financial issues.
I’ve had staff with debts in collection, or who are working on their credit with a goal of buying their first home, or who have unexpected expenses due to illness of a parent or child or unemployment of a spouse.
Dan: With that in mind, what’s do you try to achieve?
Sarah: Whenever I’m dealing with my staff (and clients) who present with these issues – I really do try to work with the aim of providing some peace of mind so we can all get back to work (I actually feel like I’m more of a sleep specialist than a lawyer at times).
Dan: For those of us used to paying a mortgage each month, I confess it’s tough to know what to say to someone (like an employee) who is facing not being able to make their mortgage payment. What’s some general recommendations you make to those people?
Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints about the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities from both attorneys and clients. And I’ve come to one conclusion:
The CHRO Complaint Procedure needs a reboot.
Now, before you dismiss this as a critical column – let’s be clear. I like many reboots. Sure, the Superman Returns movie paled in comparison to the Christopher Reeve version, but I thought the new Star Trek reboot was pretty snazzy.
Why do movies go through reboots? Because the formula that had worked for the movie series for so long has just stopped working.
And right now, the process that the CHRO has created is just not working. It’s not working for individuals, it’s not working for companies and, I believe, it’s not really working well for the agency itself. (And note too that I’m not suggesting the agency itself needs a reboot — though some have argued for that — rather, it’s the process as mandated by the law that this post is addressing.)
A reboot doesn’t mean failure; it doesn’t mean to throw out the entire formula. The agency has made some good strides on public outreach, for example, under the new leadership team. It is closing cases at a good clip and the mediation process seems better than in years past with dedicated staff just for mediations.
And I wouldn’t go so far as to say we live in a post-modern age where it has completely outlived its usefulness.
But the complaint procedure which was reworked a few years ago just isn’t working for anyone. Here’s why:
James “Larry” Foy passed away earlier this week. (His memorial service is scheduled for tomorrow in Southwick, Massachusetts.)
For those of us in Connecticut that were blessed with having had a case with him as an arbitrator or mediator — and there were many — his death will leave a substantial void.
Indeed, Larry …
Your former employee files suit against your company in federal court in Connecticut claiming that she is entitled to overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act. You go to a settlement conference before a magistrate judge. After a few hours of back and forth negotiation, you reach a settlement with the ex-employee.
Is judicial approval…
Earlier this week, I wrote about the perception among some that the CHRO has been retaining more cases for investigation by letting more cases through the Merit Assessment Review. These cases that used to be dismissed — mainly “frivolous” ones as I’ve collectively termed them — mean more headaches for employers who have to spend time and money defending against them.
(To simplify the blog post for readers, I labelled all these cases that had been dismissed at MAR together as “frivolous” even though there are technically different reasons why the CHRO may dismiss a case on Merit Assessment Review, including that there is “no reasonable possibility” that an investigation will lead to a reasonable cause finding of discrimination. )
In response to my blog post, CHRO Principal Attorney Charles Krich crafted a reply. While it is attached to the original blog post, I thought it notable enough that it warranted its own blog post. While he indicated that there were no statistics yet available, he “would not be surprised if fewer cases are being dismissed for no reasonable possibility” under the Merit Assessment Review.
Here’s his reply in full (my further comments are below):…
Continue Reading CHRO Attorney Agrees Emphasis at Agency “Has Shifted From MAR to Mediation”
The CHRO — the state agency responsible for investigating discrimination complaints in Connecticut — is going to a time of profound change. But it is also going through a period of stagnation. Where and when things will settle down remains a good question.
Why is it stagnating? Well, the agency has been without Human Rights…