OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 917

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

SUMMARY

This bill prohibits discrimination on the basis of a veteran's 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 armed forces.

The bill also:

1. requires employers or employees who serve in the National Guard of another state to grant leave for purposes of such services ( 13);

2. allows active duty members of the armed forces to register certain family members for Medicaid home-and community-based programs if the members are registered to vote, pay real property taxes, or are licensed to operate a motor vehicle in Connecticut ( 14); and

3. explicitly includes U.S. Department of Defense law enforcement authorities among the federal law enforcement officers to whom Department of Children and Families (DCF) records must be disclosed without consent of the person who is the subject of the record, under certain circumstances specified in law ( 15).

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2017

DISCRIMINATION IN EMPLOYMENT, PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS, HOUSING, AND CREDIT

1 — General Antidiscriminatory Provision

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 bill adds veteran's status to this list, thus authorizing CHRO to investigate claims of discrimination against veterans on the basis of their status as veterans.

3 — Employment

The bill prohibits an employer or 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 any employer, public or private, that employs three or more people. It applies to all employees except those employed by their parents, spouse, or children.

The act also prohibits the following kinds of employment discrimination based on veteran status:

1. employment agencies 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. labor organizations 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. employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, 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. employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or anyone else advertising employment opportunities in a way that restricts employment and thus discriminates, except for a bona fide occupational qualification or need.

4 — Public Accommodations

The bill 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 their veteran status. Violations are punishable as a class D misdemeanor, subject to a fine of up to $250, up to 30 days' imprisonment, or both.

5 — Housing

The bill prohibits the following kinds of housing discrimination based on one's status as a veteran:

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

2. discriminating 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. making, printing, publishing, or causing this to be done, any notice, statement, or advertisement concerning the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates a preference, limitation, or discrimination, or an intention to make such a preference, limitation, or discrimination;

4. falsely representing to someone that a dwelling is not available for inspection, sale, or rental, a practice commonly known as “steering;”

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

6. any person or entity engaging in residential real estate transactions discriminating in making a transaction available or its terms or conditions;

7. denying 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 discriminating in the terms or conditions of such access, membership, or participation; or

8. coercing, intimidating, threatening, or interfering 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.

Violations are punishable as a class D misdemeanor.

The law's prohibitions on housing discrimination do not apply to either of the following, if the owner maintains his or her residence there: (1) renting a room or rooms in a single-family home or (2) a unit in a two-family home.

The bill allows property appraisers furnishing appraisals to consider permissible factors other than veterans' status. Existing law allows them 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.

6 — Credit

The bill 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's Jurisdiction

The bill gives CHRO authority to investigate claims of discrimination based on a person's veteran status under other laws over which CHRO has jurisdiction. The bill:

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 ( 2);

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 this prevents performance of the work involved ( 7);

3. requires state agency services to be performed without discrimination based on veteran status ( 8);

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 ( 9);

5. prohibits state departments, boards, or agencies from granting, denying, or revoking a person's license or charter on the grounds of veteran status ( 10);

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 persons, without regard to veteran status ( 11); 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 which discriminate on this basis ( 12).

13 — Employment Protections for National Guard Members

The bill extends employment protections currently 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. Workplace protections include protection from loss of vacation or holiday privileges, or prejudice in promotions, continuances, or reappointments due to absences.

14 — Registration for Medicaid

The bill allows an armed forces member on active duty to register his or her spouse or child for any Medicaid home- or community-based program in Connecticut, provided (1) the spouse or child is eligible for the program and (2) the member is admitted as an elector or liable for the payment of any property tax in a Connecticut municipality or holds a Connecticut driver's license.

“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 federal law (e.g., some Homeland Security missions).

15 — DCF Records

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

The law currently 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 bill specifies that “law enforcement officer” includes a military law enforcement authority under the U.S. Department of Defense. Under existing law, the disclosures are allowed for purposes of investigating an allegation that a (1) child was abused or neglected, (2) person made a false report of suspected child abuse or neglect, or (3) mandated reporter failed to report suspected child abuse or neglect.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Veterans' Affairs Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

14

Nay

0

(03/02/2017)