Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Substitute Bill No. 468

    February Session, 2016

 

*_____SB00468JUD___032916____*

AN ACT CONCERNING THE COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Subsection (b) of section 46a-84 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

(b) [Upon] Except as provided in this section, upon (1) certification of a complaint filed pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of section 46a-82, (2) the filing of a complaint pursuant to subsection (c) of said section, or (3) a decision to hear a complaint, which is made pursuant to subsection (e) of section 46a-83, the Chief Human Rights Referee shall appoint a human rights referee to act as a presiding officer to hear the complaint. The chief referee shall also appoint an individual authorized by subsection (e) of this section or a referee, other than the referee appointed to hear the complaint, to conduct settlement negotiations. The chief referee shall serve in the name of the commission a copy of the complaint, as the same may have been amended, requiring the respondent to answer the charges of the complaint, together with a written notice requiring the respondent to appear at a hearing or settlement conference at a date and time specified in the notice. A hearing on a complaint filed pursuant to subsection (a) or (b) of section 46a-82 shall be commenced by convening a hearing conference not later than forty-five days after (A) the certification of the complaint, or (B) the decision made pursuant to subsection (e) of section 46a-83 to hear the complaint, as applicable. Such hearing shall be a de novo hearing on the merits of the complaint and not an appeal of the commission's (i) processing of the complaint prior to its certification, or (ii) decision made pursuant to subsection (e) of section 46a-83 to hear the complaint. A hearing on a complaint filed pursuant to subsection (c) of section 46a-82 shall be commenced by convening a hearing conference not later than twenty days after the date of notice of such complaint. [Hearings shall proceed with reasonable dispatch and be concluded in accordance with the provisions of section 4-180.]

Sec. 2. Section 46a-84 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is amended by adding subsections (h), (i) and (j) as follows (Effective October 1, 2016):

(NEW) (h) Each party shall be afforded the opportunity to inspect and copy relevant and material records, papers and documents not in the possession of the party, except as otherwise provided by applicable state or federal law. The presiding officer may order a party to produce such records, papers and documents, and if a party fails to comply with such order within thirty days of such order, the presiding officer may issue a nonmonetary order deemed just and appropriate, including, but not limited to, an order (1) finding that the matters that are the subject of the order are established in accordance with the claim of the party requesting such order, (2) prohibiting the party who has failed to comply with such order from introducing designated matters into evidence, (3) limiting the participation of the noncomplying party with regard to issues or facts relating to the order, or (4) drawing an adverse inference against the noncomplying party.

(NEW) (i) Hearings shall proceed with all reasonable speed and be concluded in accordance with the provisions of this subsection and section 4-180. The presiding officer shall issue a final decision not later than eighteen months after the date (1) the complaint is certified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, or (2) the decision is made pursuant to subsection (e) of section 46a-83 to hear the complaint, as applicable. The commission, the complainant or the respondent may apply to the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford for an order requiring the presiding officer to comply with the provisions of this subsection and section 4-180. The court, after hearing, shall issue an appropriate order. Not later than January 1, 2017, and annually thereafter, the Chief Human Rights Referee shall submit a report, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to the judiciary on: (A) The number of final decisions in the previous fiscal year that exceeded the time frame and the reasons for the failure to comply; and (B) the number of complaints pending final decision in the previous fiscal year that have exceeded the time frame and the reasons for the failure to comply.

(NEW) (j) The Chief Court Administrator shall designate judge trial referees who shall be available to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to act as presiding officers at any hearing or proceeding of the commission conducted pursuant to this section, subsection (l) of section 46a-83 or subsection (c) or (d) of section 46a-56. Any judge trial referee so designated and presiding shall have the same powers and duties as a human rights referee appointed pursuant to section 46a-57. Any judge trial referee so designated and presiding shall be compensated in accordance with the provisions of section 52-434 from such funds as may be available to the commission. A judge trial referee may also hear complaints filed under subsection (e) of section 4-61dd. Whenever the total number of complaints at public hearings that have not been resolved by final decision pursuant to section 46a-86 exceeds one hundred, or subsection (e) of section 4-61dd exceeds one hundred, the executive director of the commission, within available appropriations, may appoint a judge trial referee designated by the Chief Court Administrator to preside at a settlement conference or to hear and issue a final decision on a complaint. The executive director shall make the appointment of a judge trial referee not later than fifteen days following the date of (1) the certification of the complaint, or (2) the decision made pursuant to subsection (e) of section 46a-83 to hear the complaint, as applicable. In lieu of appointing a judge trial referee to conduct a settlement conference, the executive director may appoint an individual authorized by subsection (e) of this section to conduct settlement negotiations. If the executive director fails to appoint a judge trial referee to preside at a settlement conference or an individual authorized by subsection (e) of this subsection to conduct settlement negotiations, the chief human rights referee, as provided in subsection (b) of this section, shall appoint a human rights referee to hear the complaint, or a human rights referee or an individual authorized by subsection (e) of this section to conduct a settlement conference.

Sec. 3. Section 46a-55 of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is amended by adding subsections (c) and (d) as follows (Effective October 1, 2016):

(NEW) (c) The executive director, through the supervising attorney, may assign a commission legal counsel to represent the interests of the state in any suit or other proceeding in which civil or human rights are at issue. Commission legal counsel may intervene as a matter of right in any such suit or proceeding without permission of the parties, the presiding officer or the court.

(NEW) (d) The executive director, through the supervising attorney, may, within available appropriations, assign a commission legal counsel to bring a civil action, in accordance with this subsection, in lieu of an administrative hearing pursuant to section 46a-83 or 46a-84, as amended by this act, when the executive director determines that a civil action is in the public interest. The commission legal counsel shall bring a civil action in the Superior Court not later than ninety days following the date the commission legal counsel notifies the parties of the executive director's determination. Such civil action may be served by certified mail and is not subject to the provisions of section 46a-100, 46a-101 or 46a-102. The jurisdiction of the Superior Court in an action brought under this subsection shall be limited to such claims, counterclaims, defenses or the like that could be presented at an administrative hearing before the commission, had the complaint remained with the commission for disposition. A complainant may intervene as a matter of right without permission of the court or the parties. The civil action shall be tried to the court without a jury. If the commission legal counsel determines that the interests of the state will not be adversely affected, the complainant or attorney for the complainant shall present all or part of the case in support of the complaint. The court may grant any relief available under section 46a-104. Where the Superior Court finds that a respondent has committed a discriminatory practice, the court shall grant the commission its fees and costs and award the commission a civil penalty, not exceeding ten thousand dollars, which shall be payable to the commission and used by the commission to advance the public interest in eliminating discrimination.

Sec. 4. Section 46a-68c of the 2016 supplement to the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2016):

In addition to the provisions of section 4a-60, each contractor with fifty or more employees awarded a public works contract, municipal public works contract or contract for a quasi-public agency project in excess of fifty thousand dollars in any fiscal year, but not subject to the provisions of section 46a-68d, shall develop and file with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities an affirmative action plan which shall comply with regulations adopted by the commission. Failure to develop an approved affirmative action plan pursuant to this section shall act as a bar to bidding on or the award of future contracts until such requirement has been met. The executive director or the executive director's designee shall review and formally approve, conditionally approve or disapprove the content of the affirmative action plan not later than ninety days following the date of the submission of the plan to the commission. If the executive director or the executive director's designee fails to approve, conditionally approve or disapprove a plan within such ninety-day period, the plan shall be deemed to be approved. When the [commission] executive director or the executive director's designee approves an affirmative action plan pursuant to this section, [it] the executive director or the executive director's designee shall issue a certificate of compliance to the contractor. [This] Such certificate shall be prima facie proof of the contractor's eligibility to bid or be awarded contracts for a period of two years from the date of the certificate. Such certificate shall not excuse the contractor from monitoring by the commission or from the reporting and record-keeping requirements of sections 46a-68e and 46a-68f. The [commission] executive director or the executive director's designee may revoke the certificate of a contractor if the contractor does not implement its affirmative action plan in compliance with this section and sections 4a-60, 4a-60g, 4a-62, 46a-56, 46a-68b, 46a-68d, and 46a-68e to 46a-68k, inclusive.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2016

46a-84(b)

Sec. 2

October 1, 2016

46a-84

Sec. 3

October 1, 2016

46a-55

Sec. 4

October 1, 2016

46a-68c

JUD

Joint Favorable Subst.