With all the talk about Edward Snowden, the notion of whistleblowers is back front and center in the public eye.  (Put aside for the moment that Snowden is not likely a “whistleblower” in the legal sense.)

On a federal level, whistleblower claims are mostly covered by the False Claims Act.  But at a state level, there are comparable state statutes that cover this.

Amidst all of this, though, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities plays an important role in investigating and prosecuting whistleblower retaliation cases.  Much of this is not recognized by the general public who typically view the CHRO has covering discrimination cases.

The CHRO has a whole section of the website devoted to whistleblowers and talks extensively about the protection afforded to them under Connecticut law.

If you haven’t taken a look lately, here’s a link.

In the meantime, I’ll be on I was on WNPR’s Where We Live again on Tuesday, July 16th (at 9a and replaying at 7p).  A link to the archived performance is available here.

As always, my thanks to John Dankosky, Catie Talarski and the entire WNPR staff for the invite and their generous hospitality.

Not every case can be a U.S. Supreme Court case filled with sweeping pronouncements on employment law.

Blowing the whistle on a notable court decision

Indeed, many times the law develops through under-reported cases that you’ll never hear about.  The pronouncements may not be sweeping on those cases, but those cases help clarify a point that had been left uncertain before then and may open the door to other arguments as well.

Take the case of Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services v. Saeedi, a Connecticut Appellate decision (download here) that will be officially released on July 9th.

Its ostensibly a whistleblower case under Conn. Gen. Stat. Sec. 4-61dd, where — as part of the damages awarded to the whistleblower — the CHRO ordered agency personnel to undergo professional ethics training and to alter the personnel file of the employee.

But the court was asked to look at something greater: Under the state’s whistleblower statute, where the CHRO has the power to award “any other damages”, does that include equitable (or non-monetary) relief?

The Appellate Court, in reviewing the language of the statute and the legislative history, concluded “no”.  Thus, the ordering of training was improper under the statute. But notably, the court said that because the CHRO was empowered to order reinstatement, the altering of the personnel file was appropriate to achieve that result.

That conclusion is not entirely surprising.

But the Appellate Court goes on a bit further in language that employers may see again in the future and that opens the door a crack to arguments about whether the CHRO can award other relief (perhaps even emotional distress damages) in discrimination cases.  (For background, I’ve talked about the CHRO’s attempt to include emotional distress damages as part of the award of damages.)

Continue Reading Appellate Court Limits Relief for Whistleblowers But Opens the Door in Discrimination Cases