The Law @ Work

CHRO 2014-2015 Statistics Reveal Some Concerning Trends

by Amelia J. Holstrom

The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) recently released its case statistics for the 2014-2015 fiscal year, which ended on June 30, 2015.  The statistics reveal some concerning trends that Connecticut employers should be aware of.

More Complaints Are Being Filed?

According to the CHRO statistics, in 2014, 2,172 complaints were filed across the state.  That number rose to 2,482 in 2015.  Of these, the number of complaints based on ancestry rose from 158 in 2014 to 224 in 2015.  Similarly, complaints based on an individual’s color rose from 505 in 2014 to 595 in 2015.  Not surprisingly, complaints based on mental and physical disabilities are also on the rise.  In 2014, 741 complaints based on an individual’s physical or mental disability were filed.  In 2015, that number increased to 790.  The CHRO also received a lot more complaints based on race in 2015, than it did in 2014.  In 2015, 734 complaints regarding a person’s race were filed, while that number was only 653 in 2014.  Perhaps most surprisingly, there was a significant increase in sex discrimination complaints, from 584 in 2014, to 615 in 2015.

Of the employment cases filed at the CHRO, the number of sexual harassment cases filed actually decreased from 191 to 181 between 2014 and 2015.  However, individuals continued to file harassment complaints based on other protected characteristics as the number of other harassment complaints that were filed increased significantly from 380 in 2014, to 503 in 2015.  Similarly, in recent years the number of retaliation complaints filed has been on the rise; that continued in 2015, as the number rose to 753, up from 625 in 2014.

The CHRO Can’t Keep Up?

With the number of filed complaints on the rise, the CHRO has begun to build up a backlog of cases over the last few years.  In 2012, it had 114 active and pending cases at the end of the fiscal year.   That number increased to 209 at the end of fiscal year 2013 and to 757 at the end of fiscal year 2014.  By the end of fiscal year 2015, the CHRO had 2,670 active and pending cases open.

What Does This All Mean?

Even though the economy has improved over the last several years, the number of filed complaints is still on the rise.  In recent years, any increase could be blamed on mandatory layoffs and other consequences of the failing economy. But what is the rationale now?  No one can say for sure.  Perhaps the increase in complaints is due to low employee morale or due to increased awareness of the CHRO and employees’ legal rights.

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