Businesses will get an opportunity to share their concerns about the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities' employment discrimination claim process at a public hearing later this month.
Many Connecticut employers are frustrated by the commission's lengthy process, which often forces the settlement of even merit-less claims of discrimination in order to avoid the expense of legal costs.
CHRO's case closure data validates the business community's concerns.
The commission has seen no uptick in discrimination claims since the year 2000, a year in which the agency was able to dismiss 44% of claims at the onset of the process for their failure to find reasonable cause.
Since that time, this number has trended downward, with only 1% of claims dismissed in 2015.
A key element in this trend is the agency's decision, without legislative or executive branch approval, to ignore its own case dismissal standards.
Further, the claim process was modified in 2011 to require a mandatory mediation of discrimination claims.
This mediation quickly results in additional legal expense--particularly for businesses that have no intention of settling because they believe there was no basis for a claim.
This unfortunate change in emphasis is on display each month at CHRO's monthly commission meetings.
Staffers report the number of cases settled rather than resolved, and then report the dollar amounts generated by the settlements.
Simply put, if the metrics an agency uses to measure themselves are based on case settlements rather than achieving just outcomes, then businesses should continue to expect to open their wallets for each claim regardless of a claim's validity.
If the metrics an agency uses are based on settlements rather than just outcomes, then businesses should continue to expect to open their wallets.
Many CBIA members prefer the EEOC's investigation and mediation process as it results in quicker and fairer dispositions of cases.
The public hearing is scheduled for 10 am September 21 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
The Program Review and Investigations Committee—the legislature's nonpartisan program oversight body—is conducting the study and hearing.
Members of the public are encourage to speak about their experiences with CHRO or to submit written testimony. Testimony can be submitted through email to PRItestimony@cga.ct.gov.