Labor and Employment Fall Seminar Covers Anti-Discrimination Law

The law firm Shipman & Goodwin held a Labor and Employment Fall Seminar: 2016 Update on Labor and Employment Law yesterday at the Hartford Marriot Downtown. It was a wonderful event that presented great information on topics relevant to the CHRO and other labor law practitioners. Things like avoiding discrimination issues in the hiring process were discussed as well as a whole segment on considerations for transgender employees in the workplace. There was a lot of ground covered at the event and those interested should check out the event materials that Shipman & Goodwin have made available online at www.shipmangoodwin.com/LESeminar.

Unfortunately, there was not time to cover everything that the presenters wanted to get through. Particularly disappointing for the CHRO was that attorneys Gabriel Jiran and Jarad Lucan weren’t able to get to some key developments in employment discrimination law during their “No Debate About It: These Are Hot Topics” session. In particular, the presenters had to skip over what they’ve called misclassification of employees and updated guidance on workplace retaliation from the EEOC.

This blog has covered the material on misclassification of employees before. The seminar materials discuss the recent Connecticut Supreme Court decision of CHRO v. Echo Hose Ambulance. In that case the court adopted the “remuneration” test to determine who an employee is as opposed to the “right to control” test. This is an issue the CHRO has obviously followed closely (considered the CHRO was a named party) and believes will see more evolution as lower courts apply this test to more and more cases. One thing the Supreme Court left ambiguous is what counts as remuneration and we expect to see clarification in future case law.

As far as the EEOC’s updated guidance on workplace retaliation, this is a topic that the CHRO really wanted to see covered. There were a number of business owners and managers in the audience and no amount of training on the topic is enough. Like the EEOC, the CHRO sees a lot of retaliation complaints before us. Of particular note in the guidance is what Shipman & Goodwin have called an “expansive view” of the elements of a retaliation claim. Retaliation is based on an individual having opposed discrimination but what exactly constitutes opposition is a matter of interpretation. Connecticut courts have not required that opposition consist of a formal complaint and something as simple as an employee verbally complaining to a supervisor that they are being discriminated against is enough for a colorable claim of opposition.

Yesterday’s event was excellent overall and covered a lot of material in a short amount of time. The CHRO would like to thank Shipman & Goodwin for putting the event on and for making sure to cover so many of the issues that the CHRO sees before us.

For attorneys looking for an in-depth look at the CHRO’s processes and what goes into making the decisions that we do, we will be hosting a training conference on November 29th at our Central Office located at 450 Columbus Boulevard in Hartford. Space is limited so those interested should email Spencer.Hill@ct.gov to reserve their seat.

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