Veterans' Affairs Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-197

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING VETERANS, DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES AND THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES.

Vote Date:

3/3/2016

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

2/23/2016

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

The Veterans' Affairs Committee

Sen. Mae Flexer, 29th Dist.

REASONS FOR BILL:

The reason for this bill is to prevent discrimination towards veterans by making them a protected class. It will also enable veterans who have suffered from discrimination the ability to recover damages.

***Proposed Substitute Language Bill No. 197: The proposed substitute removes “determine the damage suffered by the complainant, which damage shall include, but not limited to, refusal to hire or employ, discharge from employment, discrimination against in compensation or in terms, conditions or privileges of employment, failure or refusal to classify properly or any other cost actually incurred by the complainant as result of such discriminatory practice. The presiding officer shall order” from Sec. 13 Subsection B. This change was to address an error in the draft language.***

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Thomas Saadi, Chief of Staff and General Counsel for the State Department of Veterans' Affairs, testified their support for this bill. While there are some federal protections for these persons, this bill will provide even broader protection at the state level. He also asked the committee to consider expanding the bill to include current members of the Armed Forces.

Michael Roberts, Attorney at the Commission on Human Rights testified in support of this bill. He stated that many employers or housing providers may incorrectly think that veterans can be called back into active duty which can prevent veterans from getting certain jobs or signing a lease. While there are some federal laws protecting veterans this bill will make the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities available to veterans who wish to take action on cases of discrimination. He also stated that he believes there is a drafting error in the bill; he has included the suggested change to that language with his testimony.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut testified in support of this bill. He stated that this bill will ensure that veterans will be treated as fairly as any other member of the public in the matters of employment. It also provides veterans who have suffered from illegal employment discrimination with full compensation for their damages.

The Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association(CTLA) testified in support of this bill. The CTLA expressed a particular interest in the expansion of remedies available to veterans who have suffered from discrimination. This will allow veterans who have faced discrimination to recover what is needed to recodify the damage done.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None Expressed

Reported by: Keith Durao, Assistant Clerk

Date: March 21, 2016