By Andrew B.F. Carnabuci
The Connecticut Commission of Human Right and Opportunities (the “CHRO”), the administrative agency charged with the enforcement of Connecticut's employment discrimination laws, announced on April 8, 2020 several new orders regarding its operation during the present public health emergency.
The CHRO has suspended all in-person meetings and hearings, including pre-answer conciliations, mandatory mediations, and all in-person activities conducted by the Office of Public Hearings until further notice. The CHRO will attempt to re-schedule many of these events, when possible, in remote video or telephonic formats, as circumstances permit. If you have a matter pending before the CHRO, or have a meeting or hearing that was scheduled prior to the implementation of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings, you are advised to contact the CHRO via email to determine whether your event will be going forward as scheduled, and if so, in what medium or format.
Order on Extensions
The CHRO Order on Extensions states that the following extensions to deadlines have been implemented categorically: 1) deadlines for Answers and Schedule A's due from Respondents are extended thirty (30) days beyond their ordinary deadlines; 2) Mandatory Mediations will continue as scheduled, to the extent practicable, via telephone or videoconference (if you are in doubt as to whether your Mandatory Mediation is going forward as scheduled, you should enquire via email); 3) Any in-person meetings related to Fact-Finding Conferences shall, upon the request of a party, be continued for thirty (30) days, so long as Governor Lamont's Executive Order 7F remains in effect; 4) Upon the request of a party, a thirty (30) day extension shall be granted on complying with all document requests, and subsequent, additional thirty (30) day extensions for COVID-19-related reasons may be granted on a case-by-case basis.
Order on Notarization & Signature Requirements
Pursuant to Governor Lamont's Executive Orders 7K & 7Q, the CHRO will temporarily permit the remote notarization of documents. Furthermore, non-notarized signature requirements are temporarily suspended, so long as the relevant document includes an electronic signature and originates from the email account of the signatory.
Complaints will be accepted without notarization, provided that they are notarized retroactively once conditions permit.
Answers will also be accepted without notarization, but they must include the following language:
“I certify under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. I provide this certification in place of the oath required by CONN. GEN. STAT. Sec. 46a-83(b) and by my signature intend for it to have the same purpose and effect as an oath.”
Order on Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Requirements
Pursuant to Public Acts 19-16 and 19-93, the State of Connecticut requires employers with three (3) or more employees to provide two (2) hours of sexual harassment prevention training to their employees within one year of October 1, 2019 (i.e. by October 1, 2020), or for employees hired after October 1, 2019, within six (6) months of the employee's hire date.
Employers with employees hired after October 1, 2019 may make a request to the CHRO for a ninety (90) day extension to complete the mandatory training. Requests for extensions should be made via email to [email protected] Any such request must state that completing the training within the mandatory timeframe has been rendered impracticable due to COVID-19, such as illness, quarantine, lack of access to computers/internet service, and/or other unforeseeable circumstances arising from COVID-19 and its attendant restrictions.
Affirmative Action/Contract Compliance Order
Employers or contractors may request a forty-five (45) day extension to the ordinary filing deadline for any affirmative action or contract compliance matter. Requests for extensions must arise from COVID-19-related issues, for example, lack of staff, lack of access to documents, illness, or quarantine.
If you are an employer that has any questions or concerns about compliance with the above CHRO orders, Rose Kallor, LLP provides a full range of legal counseling to private and public-sector employers. Please contact us with any COVID-19-related issues you face or anticipate facing, and we will be happy to assist you.