AS UPDATED (9/9)

Last week, I posted about the statistics released by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.  (You can view the CHRO’s Annual Report here.)  Today, I continue to take a look behind the numbers and the implications for employers in Connecticut.

Among the most striking of the statistics is this fact: Human Rights Referees issued only six referee decisions for the entire fiscal year (2007-2008) that closed cases after public hearings. 48 other cases were closed through a stipulated agreement. 

Why is this number significant? Because there are seven human rights referees that are employed full-time by the State of Connecticut to handle these cases. (UPDATE: Although the statute does provide for seven, a reader noted that only five or six have actually been appointed — which may be a post for another day).   And yes, for those doing the math, that works out to about  one referee decision for each human rights referee for the entire year

Now you may be asking if 6 referee decisions is actually a lot when compared with past years. The answer is unequivocally no.  In 2000-2001, there were 87 public hearing referee decisions.  In 2002-2003, there were still 67 referee decisions.  Even for the year ending 2004-2005, 30 referee decisions were issued.  That’s a drop of over 90 percent since 2001.

Despite the decreasing numbers, effective July 1, 2004, the legislature approved of seven human rights referees to serve for three year terms (Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 46a-57.)  Unlike their predecessors (who served part-time), these human rights referees serve on a full-time basis.  (46a-57(b)). 

It’s obvious from the most recent numbers that a review of the staffing levels of the human rights referees is in order by the General Assembly — which is where the blame clearly lies for its passage of the statute requiring certain staffing levels.   Perhaps the General Assembly, which is looking for ways to trim the budget, can review the CHRO’s staffing levels and determine whether having five to seven full-time human rights referees who issue a total of six decisions in a year on public hearings is the best use of taxpayer funds.  (For a fairly scathing review of the CHRO, the Law Tribune has a column this week by Karen Lee Torre.)


Continue Reading Numbers Galore, Part II: Seven Full-time CHRO Human Rights Referees for Six Referee Decisions