The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities recently released its Annual Case Processing Report for the fiscal year July 1, 2021 through June 20, 2022.
What can employers take away from the reported statistics?
To start, fewer charges of employment discrimination were filed in the last fiscal year.
While CHRO has expanded its authority since a 2019 law extended the filing deadline to 300 days (it used to be 180 days), and while employees have been given more information about how to bring complaints thanks to additional posting and training requirements for employers, fewer employees have taken the step of filing a charge.
1,581 employment discrimination claims were filed last year, a decline of more than 10%.
Despite this expansion of power, the number of employment discrimination claims filed the prior fiscal year was 1,765 and the number of employment discrimination claims filed in the most recent fiscal year was 1,581, a drop of more than 10%.
Further, while the CHRO did not split out the employment discrimination claims from the other complaints it handles concerning housing and public accommodations, it closed a total of 2,121 complaints during the last fiscal year, whereas it had closed 1,953 complaints in the fiscal year 2020-2021.
The CHRO has been working to hire more staff to decrease backlogs, so cases that sat dormant are being scheduled for mediations and fact-findings, which may lead to case closures.
Case closure statistics reveal that in most cases, the CHRO closes cases without making a finding as to whether there is reasonable cause to believe discrimination occurred.
The most common disposition of cases was settlement, with 708 case closures.
This most likely reflects that many employers make a business decision to pay nuisance value to settle cases. There are no available statistics regarding the value of the settlements.
Many employers make a business decision to pay nuisance value to settle cases.
In addition, 432 of the cases were closed based upon a release of jurisdiction, meaning the CHRO gave permission to the complainant to bring an action in court.
In cases where a decision is rendered by the CHRO, respondents are far more likely to be successful.
Of the total 2,121 cases closed, 677 were dismissed for “no reasonable cause” to believe that discrimination occurred, either after a fact-finding conference or at the case assessment review stage.
By comparison, only 101 cases resulted in findings of reasonable cause.
Trends, Future Actions
Some notable trends include a decline in the number of claims based on age, disability, and sex.
However, sexual harassment claims remained stable.
Race, disability, and sex were the most common bases on which employment claims were filed. Claims of harassment and/or retaliation made up a sizable portion of cases filed.
Race, disability, and sex were the most common bases for employment claims.
While the statistics show that employers stand a strong chance of success at the CHRO, employers can take steps to avoid having to go through the cost and burden of defending themselves.
Positive employee relations, consistent application of rules and discipline, the use of separation agreements, harassment prevention policies and training, and frequent consultation with counsel when dealing with difficult situations can reduce the number of cases filed against your company.
Of course, even the best companies can find themselves in the unfortunate position of facing a discrimination charge. Should this occur, breathe. Then call your lawyer.