Filing a Discrimination Claim – Connecticut
1. What kinds of discrimination are against state law in Connecticut?
The Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities Act makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, learning disability, marital status, mental retardation, national origin, physical disability, race, religious creed, sex and sexual orientation.
Connecticut law differs from the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) in that state law protects workers under 40, unlike the ADEA which only covers workers over 40. Connecticut law also provides broader protection for disabled employees than the similar federal statute, the Americans with Disabilities Act, because it does not require that the employee have a substantial limitation of a major life activity. Instead, it defines a disability as a chronic impairment.
2. How do I file a discrimination claim in Connecticut?
In Connecticut, you must file a discrimination claim with the state administrative agency, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). The state agency has what is called a work-sharing agreement with the federal administrative agency, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which means that the agencies cooperate with each other to process claims. Filing a claim with both agencies is unnecessary, as long as you indicate to CHRO that you want it to cross-file the claim with the EEOC.
The Connecticut anti-discrimination statute covers some smaller employers not covered by federal law. Therefore, if your workplace has between 3 and 14 employees, you will be covered only under state law, and should file with the CHRO. If your workplace has 15 or more employees, you will be able to initiate a claim under both federal and state law by filing with the CHRO.
To file a claim with the CHRO, contact the office below serving the area where the discrimination took place. More information about filing a claim with the CHRO can be found at http://www.ct.gov/chro/cwp/view.asp?a=2524&Q=315886&chroPNavCtr=|#45585.
|Capital Region Office
1229 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112-2193
Phone: (860) 566-7710
Fax: (860) 566-1997
TDD: (860) 566-7710
Contact this office if the alleged discrimination took place in: Avon, Plainville, Bloomfield, Rocky Hill, Canton, Simsbury, Collinsville, Suffield, East Granby, West Hartford, Farmington, Wethersfield, Granby, Windsor, Hartford, Windsor Locks, New Britain, Unionville, Newington, New Canaan
Eastern Region Office
|West Central Region Office
Rowland State Government Center
55 West Main Street, Suite 210
Waterbury, CT 06702-2004
Phone: (203) 805-6530
Fax: (203) 805-6559
TDD: (203) 805-6579
Contact this office if the alleged discrimination took place in: Ansonia, Naugatuck, Barkhamsted, New Hartford, Beacon Falls, New Haven, Berlin, Norfolk, Bethany, North Branford, Bethlehem, North Canaan, Branford, North Haven, Bristol, Orange, Burlington, Oxford, Canaan, Plymouth, Cheshire, Portland, Colebrook, Prospect, Cornwall, Roxbury, Cromwell, Salisbury, Derby, Seymour, Durham, Sharon, East Haven, Shelton, Goshen, Southbury, Guilford, Southington, Haddam, Thomaston, Hamden, Torrington, Hartland, Wallingford, Harwinton, Warren, Kent, Washington, Litchfield, Waterbury, Madison, Watertown, Meriden, West Haven, Middlebury, Winchester, Middlefield, Wolcott, Middletown, Woodbridge, Milford, Woodbury, Morris, Winsted
Southwest Region Office
3. What are my time deadlines?
Do not delay in contacting the CHRO or EEOC to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which charges of employment discrimination must be filed. To preserve your state claim, you must file with the CHRO within 180 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. To preserve your federal claim, you must file with the CHRO (who will refer your claim to the EEOC) within 300 days of the date you believe you were discriminated against. However, as you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your discrimination claim with the state and federal administrative agencies.
4. How can I or my attorney pursue a claim in court in Connecticut?
If your case is successfully resolved by an administrative agency, it may not be necessary to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit (to resolve your case, you probably will be required as to sign a release of your legal claims). If your case is not resolved by the CHRO or EEOC, and you may want to continue to pursue the matter, you will need to pursue your claim in court.
A federal employment discrimination case cannot be filed in court without first going to CHRO, having CHRO refer your claim to the EEOC, as discussed above, and having the EEOC dismiss your claim. This process is called exhaustion of your administrative remedy. Similarly, before you can proceed with a lawsuit based on your state discrimination claim, you must file with CHRO. Under CHRO rules, you must allow the agency at least 210 days to process the charge before you can get a release from the CHRO which will then enable you to proceed with your claim in court.
Many Connecticut attorneys choose to file employment discrimination cases in federal court. However, most cases may be brought in either state or federal court. State law does not limit or cap the compensatory (emotional pain and suffering) damages recoverable for a discrimination claim that are capped under federal law. A case filed in state court using federal law may be removed to federal court by the employer because it involves a federal statute, such as Title VII or the ADEA.
The EEOC must first issue the document known as Dismissal and Notice of Rights or Notice of Right to Sue (Form 161) before you can file a case based upon your federal claim. A lawsuit based on your federal discrimination claim must be filed in federal or state court within 90 days of the date you receive the notice. (Be sure to mark down that date when you receive it.).
A lawsuit based upon your state discrimination claim can be brought only after you get the CHRO’s release or it dismisses your case. You must file a lawsuit within 90 days of either of these events.
These deadlines are called the statute of limitations. If you have received one of these agency letters, do not delay consulting with an attorney. If your lawsuit is not filed by the deadline, then you may lose your ability to pursue a discrimination case.
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