PA 17-127—sSB 917

Veterans' Affairs Committee

Judiciary Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES AGAINST VETERANS, LEAVES OF ABSENCE FOR NATIONAL GUARD MEMBERS, APPLICATION FOR CERTAIN MEDICAID PROGRAMS AND DISCLOSURE OF CERTAIN RECORDS TO FEDERAL MILITARY LAW ENFORCEMENT

SUMMARY: This act prohibits discrimination on the basis of someone's veteran status in employment, public accommodations, the sale or rental of housing, the granting of credit, and other laws over which the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has jurisdiction. It authorizes any veteran aggrieved by an alleged discriminatory practice to file discrimination complaints with CHRO, which enforces antidiscrimination laws in these areas. A “veteran” is anyone honorably discharged or released under honorable conditions from active service in the U.S. Armed Forces, or their reserve components, including Connecticut National Guard members performing duty (e.g., certain Homeland Security missions) under Title 32 of the U.S. Code.

The act also:

1. requires the employer of anyone serving in another state's National Guard to allow the employee to take a leave of absence to perform ordered military duty during regular work hours ( 14);

2. allows active-duty members of the armed forces to register certain family members for Medicaid home- and community-based programs ( 15); and

3. explicitly includes U.S. Department of Defense military law enforcement authorities among the federal law enforcement officers to whom Department of Children and Families (DCF) records are disclosable without the consent of the person who is the subject of the record, under certain circumstances specified in law ( 16).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

1-13 — DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT, PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, HOUSING, AND CREDIT

General Anti-discrimination Provision ( 1 & 2)

Under existing law, it is a discriminatory practice to deprive someone of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by Connecticut or federal laws or constitutions, or cause such a deprivation, because of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, blindness, or mental or physical disability. The act adds veteran status to this list, thus authorizing CHRO to investigate claims of discrimination based on veteran status.

Employment ( 3 & 4)

The act prohibits an employer or the employer's agent, except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need, from refusing to hire or employ someone; barring or discharging someone from employment; or discriminating against someone in pay or in employment terms, conditions, or privileges because the person is a veteran. This prohibition applies to public or private employers with three or more employees. It applies to all employees except those employed by their parents, spouse, or children.

The act adds veteran status as a basis on which the following types of employment discrimination are prohibited:

1. an employment agency failing or refusing to classify properly or refer for employment or otherwise discriminating against someone except in the case of a bona fide occupational qualification or need;

2. a labor organization excluding someone from full membership rights; expelling a member; or discriminating in any way against a member, employer, or employee, unless the action is due to a bona fide occupational qualification;

3. an employer, an employment agency, a labor organization, or anyone else taking adverse action against someone because he or she opposed a discriminatory employment practice, brought a complaint, or testified or assisted someone else in a complaint proceeding;

4. any person aiding, abetting, inciting, compelling, or coercing someone to commit a discriminatory employment practice or attempting to do so; and

5. an employer, an employment agency, a labor organization, or anyone else advertising employment opportunities in a way that restricts employment and thus discriminates, except for a bona fide occupational qualification or need.

Public Accommodations ( 5)

The act prohibits anyone from denying someone, on the basis of his or her status as a veteran, full and equal accommodations in any public establishment (i.e., one that caters to or offers its services, facilities, or goods to the general public), including any commercial property or building lot on which a commercial building will be built or offered for sale or rent, subject to lawful conditions and limitations that apply alike to everyone. It further prohibits discriminating, segregating, or separating people on the basis of veteran status. A violation is a class D misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties).

Housing ( 6)

The act makes it a form of housing discrimination, and a class D misdemeanor (see Table on Penalties), to take any of the following actions because of a person's veteran status:

1. refuse to sell or rent after the person makes a bona fide offer, or refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of a dwelling, or otherwise deny or make a dwelling unavailable;

2. discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges of a dwelling's sale or rental, or in the provision of services or facilities in connection with the sale or rental;

3. make; print; or publish any notice, statement, or advertisement for the sale or rental of a dwelling that shows, or indicates an intent to make, a preference, limitation, or discrimination; or cause this to be done;

4. falsely represent to someone that an available dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental;

5. for profit, induce or attempt to induce someone to sell or rent a dwelling by representing that veterans are moving, or may move, into the neighborhood;

6. when engaging in residential-real-estate-related transactions, discriminate in (a) making such a transaction available or (b) the transaction's terms or conditions;

7. deny someone access to, or membership or participation in, any multiple-listing service; real estate brokers' organization; or other service, organization, or facility relating to the business of selling or renting dwellings, or discriminate in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation; or

8. coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with someone in the exercise or enjoyment of, or on account of the person having exercised, enjoyed, or aided or encouraged someone else in the exercise or enjoyment of, these rights.

The law's prohibitions on housing discrimination do not apply to the rental of owner-occupied single- or two-family homes.

Also, existing law allows property appraisers furnishing appraisals to consider factors other than race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, identity or expression, marital status, age, lawful source of income, familial status, learning disability, or physical or mental disability. The act adds veteran status to this list of factors.

Credit ( 7)

The act prohibits a creditor from discriminating against any adult in a credit transaction on the basis of the person's veteran status.

Other Areas Subject to CHRO Jurisdiction ( 3 & 8-13)

The act:

1. subjects any professional or trade association, board, or other similar organization whose profession, trade, or occupation requires a state license, to a fine of $100 to $500 for denying someone membership because of his or her veteran status ( 3);

2. requires state officials and supervisory personnel to recruit, appoint, assign, train, evaluate, and promote state personnel on the basis of merit and qualifications, without regard to veteran status, unless the person's status as a veteran prevents performance of the work involved ( 8);

3. requires state agency services to be performed without discrimination based on veteran status ( 9);

4. requires any state agency that provides employment referrals or placement services to public or private employers to reject any job request that indicates an intention to exclude anyone based on his or her veteran status ( 10);

5. prohibits state departments, boards, or agencies from granting, denying, or revoking someone's license or charter on the grounds of veteran status ( 11);

6. requires all educational, counseling, and vocational guidance programs and all apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs of state agencies, or in which state agencies participate, to be open to all qualified individuals, without regard to veteran status ( 12); and

7. prohibits a veteran's status from being considered as a limiting factor in state-administered programs involving the distribution of funds to qualify applicants for benefits authorized by law, and prohibits the state from giving financial assistance to public agencies, private institutions, or other organizations that discriminate on this basis ( 13).

The act gives CHRO authority to investigate claims of discrimination on any of the above grounds.

14 — Employment Protections for National Guard Members

The act extends employment protections afforded to employees who serve in the state armed forces or any reserve component of the U.S. Armed Forces to employees who are members of another state's National Guard who take time off from work during regular working hours to perform ordered military duty. This includes time off for meetings or drills. Employment protections include protection from (1) loss of vacation or holiday privileges or (2) prejudice in promotions, continuances, or reappointments due to absences.

15 — Registration for Medicaid

The act allows an armed forces member on active duty to apply on behalf of his or her spouse or child for any Medicaid home- or community-based program in Connecticut for which the spouse or child is eligible.

“Armed Forces” means the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Air Force, and reserve components, including the Connecticut National Guard performing duty under Title 32 of the U.S. Code (e.g., some Homeland Security missions).

16 — DCF Records

By law, DCF records are generally confidential but can be disclosed (1) with the consent of the person who is the subject of the records or (2) without consent under certain circumstances.

The law requires disclosure without the person's consent to state or federal law enforcement officers for purposes of investigations related to child abuse or neglect. The act specifies that “law enforcement officer” includes a military law enforcement authority under the U.S. Department of Defense.