0020042, Agvent - Decision
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities ex rel : CHRO No. 0020042 Rosa Maria Agvent, Complainant
Ace Tech, Inc., and Applied Computer Engineering Technology
April 11, 2001
FINAL DECISION AND ORDER OF RELIEF
This matter involves a former female computer worker’s allegation that she was discriminated against because of her sex (female) as well as her race and nationality (Hispanic).
The Complainant, Rosa Maria Agvent (hereinafter, the "Complainant"), alleges that the Respondent, Ace Tech, Inc., also known as, Applied Computer Engineering Technology (hereinafter, the "Respondent") violated General Statutes §§ 46a-60(a)(1), 46a-60(a)(4) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000 et seq. (hereinafter "Title VII").
This Final Decision and Order of Relief is the result of a Hearing in Damages conducted on February 14, 2001.I. THE PARTIES
The Complainant is Rosa Maria Agvent. Her address is 567 Queen Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut 06615.
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (hereinafter, the "Commission") is located at 21 Grand Street, Hartford, CT 06106. The Commission was represented at the Hearing in Damages by Joanne V. Yandow, Assistant Commission Counsel II, 21 Grand Street, 4th Floor, Hartford, CT 06106.
The Respondent is Ace Tech, Inc., a.k.a. Applied Computer Engineering Technology located at 700 Canal Street, Stamford, CT 06902.
II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY
The Complainant filed an Affidavit of Illegal Discriminatory Practice (hereinafter, the "Complaint") with the Commission on August 5, 1999. (Ex. CHRO-1)
The Complaint was certified to the Office of Public Hearings, after investigation and conciliation, on December 1, 2000. (Ex. CHRO-2)
The Office of Public Hearings mailed notice of a Hearing Conference (to be held on January 4, 2001) on December 11, 2000. (Ex. CHRO-3)
The Commission filed a Motion for Default for failure of the Respondent to answer the Complaint on January 3, 2001. (Ex. CHRO-4)
The Hearing Conference was duly held on January 4, 2001. The Hon. David S. Knishkowy, Human Rights Referee, presided. A Conference Summary and Order was issued on January 4, 2001. (Ex. CHRO-5) The Commission filed a Motion for Default for failure to appear dated January 4, 2001. (Ex. CHRO-6) Although the Respondent was represented by the law firm of Pullman & Comley, LLC for a period of time, this law firm notified the Commission, by letter dated November 28, 2000, that it was withdrawing from its representation of the Respondent. (Ex. CHRO-8)
The Hon. David S. Knishkowy granted the Commission’s Motion for Default based on the dual grounds of the Respondent’s failure to appear at the Hearing Conference and its failure to file an answer to the Complaint. He entered a default against the Respondent on January 17, 2001. (Ex. CHRO-9)
The Hon. David S. Knishkowy scheduled a Hearing in Damages for February 14, 2001. A notice of the Hearing in Damages was sent via certified mail to all of the parties informing them of the date, time and place of the Hearing in Damages.
On February 13, 2001, the Hon. Leonard E. Trojanowski was substituted for the Hon. David S. Knishkowy as the presiding Human Rights Referee.
The Hon. Leonard E. Trojanowski conducted the Hearing in Damages on February 14, 2001. (Transcript 1-37) The Complainant appeared at the Hearing in Damages and testified. The Respondent did not appear. The Commission filed a Prayer for Relief on February 14, 2001. The Transcript of the Hearing in Damages was filed on February 27, 2001. Therefore, the record was closed on February 27, 2001.
III. FINDINGS OF FACT
- The Respondent was served a copy of the Complaint by certified mail and failed to file an appearance after the withdrawal of the law firm of Pullman & Comley, LLC (Ex. CHRO-6) or to file an answer to the Complaint. (Ex. CHRO-4)
- Both the Complainant and the Respondent received notice, via certified mail, of the Human Rights Referee’s entry of the default order and notice of the scheduled date, time and place of the Hearing in Damages. (Ex. CHRO-9)
- The Respondent’s agent signed the certified mail/return receipt ("green card") acknowledging receipt of the notice of the Hearing in Damages. (Ex. CHRO-9a)
- The Complainant worked for the Respondent as a computer worker when she was terminated on June 17, 1999. (Complaint, ¶-2)
- The Complainant’s race and national origin is Puerto Rican, and her sex is female. (Complaint, ¶-4).
- The Complainant received $14.42 pay per hour by the Respondent and she worked 39-hours per week. (Tr. 12; CHRO Ex. 12)
- The Respondent discriminated against the Complainant in the terms and conditions of her employment based on her sex and her national origin. (Complaint, ¶¶-1, 2, 3, 4 & 5).
- The Complainant was diligent in looking for employment. She worked at two jobs before finding full-time employment at Enthone OMI. (Tr. 19, 20, 22)
Based on the Respondent’s failure to file both an appearance and an answer to the Complaint, established the Respondent’s liability for violation of General Statutes §§ 46a-60(a)(1), 46a-60(a)(4) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Hon. David S. Knishkowy entered the Default Order on January 17, 2001.
I hereby find that the Respondent was provided with legally sufficient notice of the existence of the Complaint and of its obligation to both appear and file an answer. The certified mails return receipt "green cards" were returned signed to the Office of Public Hearings.
I also find the Respondent liable for discriminating against Complainant in the terms and conditions of her employment and that it wrongfully discharged the Complainant based on her sex and national origin. Consequently, I am mandated by both General Statutes 46a-83(i), and Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies § 46a-54-95(d) to make the Complainant whole and to eliminate the Respondent’s discriminatory practices.
"The victim of a discriminatory practice is to be accorded his rightful place in the employment scheme, that is, he has a right to be restored to the position he would have attained absent the unlawful discrimination."
State v. CHRO, 211 Conn. 464, 478 (1989).
V. CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
- The Respondent was provided with legally sufficient notice of the existence of this complaint and its obligation to both appear and file an answer to the complaint.
- The Human Rights Referee had the authority to enter the Order of Default on January 17, 2001.
- All parties received legally sufficient notice of the Order of Default and the Hearing in Damages.
- Respondent is liable for violations of General Statutes §§ 46a-60(a)(1), 46a-60(a)(4) and Title VII.
A. BACK PAY
The remedy of back pay is specifically identified in General Statutes § 46a-86(b). The Complainant claims back pay from the date of her discharge, June 16, 1999, until June 30, 2000. At this time, she began a new job full-time at a higher hourly rate of pay ($17.00 per hour). This computes to one year plus two weeks, or 54 weeks.
Any earnings in the interim period, both from other jobs as well as unemployment compensation, must be deducted from the Complainant’s award of back pay. General Statutes § 46a-86(b); Silhouette Optical Limited v. CHRO, 10 Conn. L. Rptr. No. 19, 599, 611 (1994).
The Complainant worked 39 hours per week for the Respondent where she earned $14.42 per hour. (Tr. 12.)
$14.42/Hour X 39 Hours/Week = $562.38 /Week
$562.38/Week X 54 Weeks = $30,368.52 Gross Back Pay
Complainant collected unemployment compensation from the state of New York for calendar year 1999 in the total sum of: $9,490.00
She also worked at two places of employment in 2000:
Taco Loco = $66.00
Century 21 = $718.00
$30,368.52 Gross Back Pay
-9,490.00 1999 N.Y. State Unemployment
-66.00 Taco Loco
-718.00 Century 21
$20,094.52 Net Back Pay
The Complainant started work at Enthone – OMI on June 30, 2000. She earned $17.30 per hour and worked a 40-hour week. (Tr. 22.) Because her earnings with Enthone – OMI were greater than her earnings with the Respondent, the Complainant’s eligibility for back pay stopped on the date of her hiring by Enthone – OMI. Harkless v. Sweeney Independent School District, 466 F. Sup. 457, 469, 22 FEP 1557 (S.D. Tex), aff’d 608F2d 594, 22 FEP 1571 (5th Cir. 1979).B. PREJUDGMENT INTEREST
Prejudgment interest runs from the date of the discriminatory act until the date of this decision, June 17, 1999 – April 11, 2001. The state and federal case law give me the discretion to choose the method of calculating prejudgment interest. Silhouette Optical Ltd., supra. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has held that not compounding interest on an award of backpay is normally "an abuse of discretion." Saulpaugh v. Monroe County Hospital, 4 F.3d 134, 144, 2nd Cir. (1993). Therefore, I award the Complainant compound prejudgement interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the date of the discriminatory act until the date of this decision.
C. POST JUDGMENT INTEREST
Pursuant to General Statutes § 37-3a, the Respondent shall pay post judgment interest at the rate of 10% per year from the date of this decision until the date payment is made by the Respondent.
VII. ORDER OF RELIEF
- The Respondent shall pay to the Complainant the sum of $20,094.52 as back pay.
- The Respondent shall pay to the Complainant compound pre-judgment interest at the rate of 10% per year from June 17, 1999 until April 11, 2001.
- The Respondent shall pay to the Complainant 10% per year statutory post judgment interest from April 11, 2001 until payment is made by the Respondent.
- The Respondent is hereby directed to cease and desist from any discriminatory actions in violation of General Statutes §§ 46a-60(a)(1), 46a-60(a)(4) and Title VII with regard to both the Complainant and its employees in general; and
- The Respondent shall place posters, to be supplied by the Commission, at all of its Connecticut business locations, in conspicuous places which are visible to all employees, and applicants for employment, specifying employee rights regarding employment discrimination pursuant to General Statutes §§ 46a-60(a)(1), 46a-60(a)(4) and Title VII. The posters shall be placed at all locations not later than thirty (30) days after receipt of the posters from the Commission.
- Pursuant to General Statutes § 46a-86(b) the Respondent shall pay to the Commission $9,490.00 which represents the amount of unemployment compensation received by the Complainant. The Commission shall transfer said amount to the appropriate New York Unemployment Agency.
IT IS SO ORDERED this 11th day of April, 2001.
Hon. Leonard E. Trojanowski
Presiding Human Rights Referee
Rosa Maria Agvent
Jeannette Foxworth, Applied Computer Engineering Technology
Joanne V. Yandow, Assistant Commission Counsel II
Raymond P. Pech, Deputy Commission Counsel
Ann Galer-Pasternak, Public Hearing Administrator