Whether you call this season “fall” or “pumpkin spice latte time”, I like to call it — “It’s CHRO Annual Report Season!”
Earlier this week, my colleague Bradley Harper and I did a post our sister blog site, Employment Law Letter, on a recent Connecticut Appellate Court case discussing the level of proof needed by an employee to win a discrimination case.
If you haven’t read it yet, you can click here.
The key line in the…
It’s Wednesday afternoon and you get an email from a service that receives lawsuits on your behalf.
“Congratulations! You are the recipient of a new lawsuit!”
No, it doesn’t really say that.
Rather, it’ll basically attach a copy of the lawsuit and remind you that the clock is ticking for a response.
It might as…
Let’s take a test.
In the last ten years or so, the number of charges of discrimination and retaliation filed at the EEOC has done WHAT?
a) Gone up by 40 percent
b) Gone up by 15 percent
c) Stayed relatively flat
d) Gone down by 15 percent
e) Gone down by 40 percent…
Those were the days of Lady Gaga’s “Meat Dress”. You could also play “Angry Birds” on your new smartphone.
And discrimination complaints to the EEOC were about at their all-time high.
But over the last few years — and in particular, last year — discrimination and retaliation claims have been down.
Earlier this month, the EEOC released its statistics regarding charges for 2018. I love looking at these because there are certain trends that always pop out. (You can see some prior years here and here.)
Here are five big takeaways that employers in Connecticut can learn from these numbers.
- Charges Continue to Go
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity (CHRO) was sued yesterday by its longtime (and former) Regional Manager Pekah Wallace. The federal lawsuit claims her employment termination was improper and provides a whole host of information about what has been going on behind the scenes at the agency.
There’s an old(?) Bonnie Raitt song that my parents used to listen to when I was in college called “Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About”. It’s about a crush, but the intro could be just as applicable to a new court decision. The lyrics start: “People are talkin’, talkin’ ’bout people, I hear…
Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is over. Can we all stop listening to Despacito now. (Please?)
But it’s time to look at a decision that came out during the dog days of summer that might have been overlooked. A recent federal district court case (Noffsinger v. SSN Niantic Operating Co. LLC, download…
If at first you succeed, try it again.
Well, that may not be how the saying goes, but the first back-and-forth post between me and Nina Pirrotti, an employee-side attorney, was so well received that we’re back for another conversation.
Today’s topic: What legislation are we both keeping our eyes out for at the Connecticut General Assembly?
The Dialogue Begins
Dan Schwartz: So Nina, our first post was such a hit that I think we’re due for an encore. Thanks for being up for this.
It has only bewn a few weeks, but it feels like we’re moving at warp speed on developments. We could spend another post just on
The Donald, sorry, Mr. President. Somehow I think we’re likely to talk about that again soon.
But let’s focus today on some of the legislative items we’re keeping an eye on, particularly in Connecticut. Each year, it seems like our General Assembly likes to roll out fresh employment law ideas.
Is there a particular bill that you’re keeping your eye on now from an employee-side perspective?
Nina Pirrotti: I’m so glad you asked! Yes, let me tell you about one bill that has been on my mind on the federal level (I am speaking about it at an ABA conference in sunny Puerto Vallarta really soon) and then I will give you a couple of highlights from our backyard.
The federal bill that looms large for me right now (although concededly perhaps not as large as the prospect of sitting on the beach, tequila based beverage in hand) is the misleadingly named Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (“LARA”) which would force judges to respond to Rule 11 motions in a particular manner.
Rule 11 allows for the possibility of sanctions to be imposed on attorneys or parties who submit (or later advocate for) pleadings which have been filed for an improper purpose or which contain frivolous arguments or claims.
While Rule 11 motions rear their ugly heads relatively rarely in litigation, a newly invigorated Republican majority in Congress has proposed LARA which would amend the sanctions provisions in Rule 11 to remove all judicial discretion – – regardless of the circumstances of the individual case- – in two critical respects.
First it would require the court to sanction any attorney, law firm, or party who violates the rule. Second it forces judges who find the rule has been violated to order the offending party to pay the other party’s attorneys’ fees and costs. Those in my world who oppose LARA say that there is no proof Rule 11 is not working in its current form, that the changes would burden the courts and that its “once size fits all” mandatory sanctions would unfairly penalize employees in civil lawsuits.
Closer to home, two bills come to mind. The first is a proposed modification of C.G.S.A. 31-51m, a statute which bars employers from retaliating against employees who report employers’ unethical or legal wrongdoings to public bodies.
The modification seeks to protect employees who complain about such conduct internally or who refuse to participate in an activity they believe to be in violation of the law. It also seeks to extend the timeline to bring an action under the law (employees now have only 90 days to file) and to provide for a greater array of damages if the employer violates the statute.
The second is a proposal to provide eligible employees with paid Family and Medical Leave Act leave. The proposed legislation would require employees to contribute 1/2 of 1% of their wages to it (there would be no employer contribution) and employees cannot opt out it.
We plaintiff employment lawyers would welcome both pieces of legislation as long overdue and reasonably tailored to protect Connecticut’s workforce.
What are your thoughts from the other side of the aisle, Dan? Or is there other proposed legislation that has captured your attention?…