Can an employer ever win a motion for summary judgment on a discrimination case in state court?

The prevailing wisdom is no.  A fool’s errand, some might say.

But a new Connecticut Appellate Court case (Alvarez v. City of Middletown) shows at least what’s possible.

The case has some details that stand out. The

Not every case that comes out from the Connecticut Appellate Court makes headlines.

Take the case of Walker v. Department of Children & Families, a new case that will be officially released next week (download here).

It is a fairly ordinary discrimination case — albeit a rare one where the employer has been successful on a motion for summary judgment. It is also a textbook example of how slow the legal system can be, with the court decision coming eight years after the employee was fired.

The plaintiff was hired as a social worker in June 2004 and was notified that he needed to successfully complete a “ten month working west period.”  His first performance review, about 10 weeks in, was generally favorable.  By December, though, he was transferred to a new unit and was required to prepare documents to be filed in court and attend court proceedings.


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Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to the Connecticut Technology Council’s IT Summit.

The panel discussion, entitled “Social Media: How to Manage Your New Digital Workfoce and Your Workforce ‘Friends’”, explored the impact of social networking on how businesses communicate with customers and employees, and how to reconcile the need for security and control with the desire to remain flexbile and competitive.

My law partner, Glenn Cunningham, served as panel moderator and Christopher Luise, executive vice president at ADNET Technologies, LLC joined me.

One of the questions that was raised during the IT Summit was one that I sometimes hear.  Paraphrasing, the question was essentially this: “I think social media is just a waste of time for employees.  There is no return on investment for it. And what am I supposed to do with a young employee who spends four hours on Facebook each day?”

There’s a lot of subtext to a question like this and it would be easy to discount the person’s views as someone who just “doesn’t get it” with social media.


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At the core of every employment relationship is the expectation that the employee will perform the job satisfactorily.

But what happens to those performance expectations when an employee has a disability?

As the federal government has acknowledged, The Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits “employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities, generally do[es] not

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For anyone who has been following the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions interpreting wage & hour, discrimination and retaliation claims, yesterday’s decision in Kasten v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics (download here), can hardly come as a surprise.

Indeed, in a 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court concluded that to "file" a complaint, an employee need only provide

Here’s a quick update on some items and topics that have been covered by the blog over the past year:

  • Earlier this week, I raised the issue of whether the rising unemployment rate would also lead to more employment lawsuits. Reuters yesterday released a very good and balanced article on the subject. I shared my

"Get Rid of Performance Reviews!" proclaims a UCLA professor in this morning’s edition of the Wall Street Journal:

To my way of thinking, a one-side-accountable, boss-administered review is little more than a dysfunctional pretense. It’s a negative to corporate performance, an obstacle to straight-talk relationships, and a prime cause of low morale at work. Even the

Nearly six months ago, a landmark ruling by the Connecticut Supreme Court held that Connecticut’s anti-discrimination laws required employers to provide a reasonable accommodation to disabled workers, much like the federal counterpart, the ADA.

As I noted in an earlier post about the case, Curry v. Allen S. Goodman, Inc., the Court suggested that the employer had a

eeoc sealThe EEOC today released a "comprehensive question-and-answer guide" (but not regulations)  addressing how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) should be applied to a wide variety of performance and conduct issues. You can download the FAQs at their website here

In a press release accompanying the document, the EEOC noted that it released the guide in response

Connecticut’s wage payment statutes, with the definition of wages found at Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-71a(3), certainly have left courts room to interpret the statute. After all, the definition of wages is merely: 

compensation for labor or services rendered by an employee, whether the amount is determined on a time, task, piece, commission or other