Frequently Asked Questions
FAQs REGARDING the Rights and Duties of Parties
1. What does it mean if my case is retained after a Case Assessment Review (CAR)?
It means that the complaint meets very basic legal requirements - nothing more than that. Most complaints are retained after CAR. Retaining a complaint does not mean the Commission believes that discrimination has occurred.
2. Why would a complaint be retained?
Complaints are retained because the Commission does not have enough information to decide the case. Most cases raise issues of credibility. The complainant and the respondent often have very different explanations for what happened. Until the Commission has seen and heard the witnesses it cannot know which explanation it believes. There may also be a need for further fact-gathering and analysis. Therefore, the Commission will talk to witnesses and conduct a further review of the evidence before the investigator makes a final determination of whether reasonable cause exists.
3. What kind of further review will occur?
If mediation is not successful, the Commission will assign an investigator to review the case and determine what documents and witnesses will be necessary to find out what happened. The investigator may then issue notice of a fact-finding conference. The investigator may also request that the parties provide documents and/or witnesses at the fact-finding conference. The Commission has the right to subpoena documents and/or witnesses, but voluntarily producing documents and witnesses by the parties saves much time.
4. What is mediation?
Mediation is a way of resolving disputes between parties with the assistance of a neutral party called a mediator. The mediator assists the parties to negotiate a settlement.
5. What are the advantages of mediation over an investigation or public hearing?
The advantages of mediation over adversarial proceedings like investigations, public hearings or court trials are cost, time and control. Litigation is expensive and slow. Mediation is relatively inexpensive and quick. In mediation the parties control whether a settlement is reached. In litigation someone is going to lose. A fair settlement lets everybody win.
6. Can I be required to mediate?
Yes. Mediation is mandatory under state law. If a mandatory mediation conference is scheduled, both parties must attend. If the Complainant fails to attend mandatory mediation without a showing of good cause, the complaint will be dismissed. If the Respondent fails to attend mandatory mediation without a showing of good cause, the Respondent will be found in default. Attendance is mandatory, but settlement is not.
7. Who mediates complaints?
The mediator may be a Commission investigator or attorney, a law student or other intern, a student or professor at the University of Connecticut School of Law mediation clinic, or a volunteer attorney.
8. Will the mediator also investigate the complaint?
No. Mediation and investigation are two different parts of the Commission's case processing. Because the mediator may learn confidential information during the mediation, it would not be appropriate for the mediator to also investigate the complaint.
9. Is settlement a possibility even after an investigation has begun?
Yes. At all times during the investigation, appropriate staff are available to discuss settlement options.
10. Where is the fact-finding conference held?
The conference is typically held at one of the Commission’s regional offices (Bridgeport, Hartford, Waterbury and Norwich) or at the central office located at 450 Columbus Boulevard, Hartford.
11. Who is at the conference?
The parties, witnesses and attorneys (if any) are expected to appear. The notice of fact-finding may list specific people expected to appear.
12. What is the purpose of the conference?
The purpose of the conference is to obtain information from the parties and their witnesses. The investigator does so by questioning the parties and witnesses and by reviewing documents produced at the fact-finding conference.
13. How are individuals at the conference questioned?
The parties may be questioned under oath. At the investigator’s discretion, the parties may be questioned separately. The investigator will have control over all questioning. At the discretion of the investigator the parties may propose questions to ask the other side or the witnesses but the investigator has the power to stop this questioning if need be.
14. Are the conferences tape-recorded?
Yes. This is done to preserve a record of the conference. The parties may request copies of the tapes for a small fee (currently $2.00 per tape). CHRO does not transcribe tapes.
15. Who has the right to look at the file and request the tapes?
The parties must provide each other with a copy of all documents filed with the Commission. When you send a copy of a document to the Commission, you must send a copy to the other party and certify to the Commission that you have done so. Both parties have a right to inspect and copy evidence in the Commission’s file, except as otherwise provided by federal law or Connecticut General Statutes.
16. Do I need an attorney? Must my attorney be admitted to practice in Connecticut?
An attorney is not required. If you decide to retain a lawyer and a public hearing is held, that lawyer must be licensed to practice law in Connecticut or must have permission from the Connecticut Judicial Branch to appear pro hac vice pursuant to the governing sections of the Connecticut Practice Book.
17. What happens after the conference?
After the investigator completes the investigation, he/she prepares a draft finding of Reasonable Cause or No Reasonable Cause to share with the parties. The parties then have 15 days to comment on the draft. The investigator will review the parties’ comments and determine if further inquiry is necessary. If not, the investigator issues the finding.
18. What other duties are required of the parties in this process?
The Complainant has a duty to cooperate and to respond in a timely manner to any information and/or assistance requested by the Commission. The Complainant must notify the Commission of his/her whereabouts at all times throughout the process. You must notify the Commission, in writing, if your telephone number or address changes.
19. What is a "make whole relief offer?"
A "make whole relief offer" may be found if the Respondent has eliminated the discriminatory practice complained of, taken steps to prevent a likely reoccurrence and has offered full relief to the Complainant. The Commission may dismiss a complaint when a Complainant fails to accept a "make whole relief offer."
20. What are the next steps if an investigator finds "reasonable cause"?
The investigator will attempt to conciliate a settlement between the parties. If this proves unsuccessful, the case will be certified to the Office of Public Hearings.
21. What are the Complainant’s options if the investigator finds "No Reasonable Cause?"
If investigator finds that there is No Reasonable Cause, the complaint is dismissed. After dismissal, the Complainant may (within 15 days of the sending of the notice) request reconsideration from the Commission. Alternatively, the Complainant may appeal to the Superior Court, as provided by the applicable statutes.
For further information regarding Frequently Asked Questions or other inquiries, please contact the Commission at (860) 541-3400.