9910120, Volpintesta - Order

CHRO No. 9910120

Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, ex rel. :  Lou Volpintesta, Complainant
International Athletic Association of Basketball Officials, Respondent : July 29, 1999


This matter involves a part-time, high school basketball referee’s claim that he was discriminated against by his employer due to his physical disability. In his complaint, the Complainant alleges that the Respondent violated: (1) General Statutes § 46a-60(a)(1); and (2) The Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101 et seq. (hereinafter, the "ADA").

This Order is the result of a Hearing In Damages conducted on June 14, 1999.

  1. Procedural History
  2. On September 21, 1998, the Complainant, Lou Volpintesta, filed an Affidavit of Illegal Discriminatory Practice (hereinafter, the "complaint") with the Connecticut

    Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (hereinafter, the "Commission"). Commission Exhibit 1 (hereinafter, "Exh."). The Respondent, the International Athletic Association of Basketball Officials, was served the complaint via certified mail and was informed of its obligation and deadline for filing a complaint. Exh. 2. Because the Respondent failed to answer the complaint and also failed to provide documents listed in Schedule A, on December 4, 1998 a second letter was sent to the Respondent from the Commission, granting the Respondent an additional ten (10) days to comply. Exh. 3. On January 21, 1999, the Commission sent a second notice to the Respondent granting it an additional seven (7) days to comply, or warning it that an order of default would enter. Exh. 4. When the seven days had passed and still nothing had been filed by the Respondent, the Commission forwarded a Memorandum to the Acting Executive Director, Jewel E. Brown, requesting a default order and notice for a hearing on damages, which memorandum was forwarded to the Respondent via certified mail. Exh. 5. On February 24, 1999, Acting Executive Director Jewel E. Brown issued a default order against the Respondent and notice of public hearing. Exh. 6.

    The Hearing In Damages was initially scheduled to convene on April 5, 1999. It was rescheduled for May 6, 1999 at 10:00 a.m. pursuant to a Motion for Continuance by the Complainant’s counsel. On May 6, 1999, at the Hearing In Damages before the Honorable Leonard E. Trojanowski, the Hearing In Damages was again continued to June 14, 1999 upon motion by the Commission due to lack of confirmation of receipt of notice on the parties. The matter was reassigned to the undersigned, and the Hearing In Damages convened on June 14, 1999. Raymond Pech, managing director and Commission attorney represented the Commission. Transcript, p. 3. Gwendolyn McDonald, Staff Attorney for the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Disabilities, represented the Complainant. Transcript, p. 3. The Respondent did not appear. Transcript, p. 4.

  3. Findings of Fact

Because this is a hearing in damages resulting from an order of default, the hearing is limited to the relief necessary to eliminate the discriminatory practice and make the complainant whole. Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies § 46a-54-95(d). General Statutes § 46a-83(i). Based on the exhibits admitted into evidence, including the complaint, and testimony from the Complainant, the following facts are found:

  1. The Respondent was served a copy of the Complainant’s complaint and failed to file an Answer or Schedule A responses. Exh. 2-5.
  2. The Respondent received notice via certified mail of the Acting Executive Director’s Order of Default and Notice of Public Hearing. Exh. 6 Transcript pp. 7-8..
  3. The Complainant is deaf, unable to speak and hear. Complaint ¶ 4.
  4. The Respondent is aware that the Complainant is unable to speak and hear and requires the service of interpreters. Transcript p. 28.
  5. The Complainant has worked and served in the capacity of part-time referee since 1993. Complaint ¶ 5, Transcript pp. 12-13.
  6. Respondent’s constitution provides that every referee will receive at least one (1) game to referee per season. Complaint ¶ 6.
  7. In previous years, the Complainant has received approximately 10-15 games per season. Complaint ¶ 7, Transcript p. 13.
  8. Complainant did not receive any games to referee for the 1997-1998 season. Complaint ¶ 8, Transcript pp. 12-13, Exh. 7.
  9. Complainant was awarded 17 games to referee during the 1998-1999 season and worked for 15 of them. Transcript pp. 12-13, 20.
  10. Complainant filed a grievance with the Board which was not addressed. Complaint ¶ 9, Transcript pp. 23-24.
  11. During the 1997-98 season, three meetings were held for all referees. Although Complainant submitted written requests for interpreters at these meetings, none were provided. Complaint ¶¶ 10-11, Transcript pp.27-28.
  12. Complainant missed valuable information at these three meetings relevant to the performance of his duties as a referee. Transcript, p. 25.
  13. The Respondent discriminated against the Complainant due to his physical disability. Complaint ¶ 14.
  14. The Complainant was paid $40.08 per game for the 1998-1999 season. Transcript, pp. 12-14, Exh. 8.
  15. The Complainant paid dues for the 1997-1998 season in the amount of $128.00. Transcript, p. 21, Exh. 8.
  16. Complainant was a freshman-level referee for the 1996-1997 season. Transcript, p. 16.
  17. Complainant would have been able to referee for J.V.-level games for the 1997-98 season. Transcript, p. 16.
  18. If Complainant had worked during the 1997-1998 season, he would have gained more experience and during the current season would have been awarded a few varsity-level games, rather than solely the junior-varsity and freshmen-level games he currently works. Transcript, pp. 15-18.
  19. Complainant would have earned more money for varsity-level games, than the current $40.08 per game that he earns for freshmen and junior-varsity-level games. Transcript p. 17.
  20. Varsity-level games earn between $50.00 to $52.00 per game. Transcript, p. 22, Exh. 7.
III.   Conclusions of Law
  1. Respondent was provided legally sufficient notice of the existence of the complaint and the Order for Default and the Hearing In Damages.
  2. The Acting Executive Director had the authority to enter the Order of Default on February 24, 1999 based on the Respondent’s failure to file an answer. Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies § 46a-54-64. General Statutes § 46a-83(i).
  3. The entry of default in this case established the Respondent’s liability for violations of General Statutes §§46a-60(a)(1), and the ADA.
  4. The Presiding Human Rights Referee is authorized to award damages to eliminate the discriminatory practice and make the Complainant whole pursuant to General Statutes § 46a-83(i).
  5. The Complainant may not receive damages for attorneys fees resulting from violations of General Statutes § 46a-60(a)(1). Bridgeport Hospital v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, 232 Conn. 91, 102, 653 A.2d 782, 788 (1995). General Statutes § 46a-86.
  6. The Complainant is entitled to monetary relief that would place him in the position he would have occupied without any unlawful discrimination. Fenn Manufacturing Company v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, 1994 WL 51143 (Conn.Super.1994), judgment affirmed by 232 Conn. 117, 652 A.2d 1011 (1995).
IV.    Analysis

    As a result of the Respondent’s failure to provide interpreters at its meetings for the Complainant, despite his prior written requests for same, the Complainant missed valuable information necessary to perform his job as a referee. In addition, he was not provided the opportunity to referee any games for the 1997-1998 season and therefore did not derive any benefit from his membership and should be reimbursed for his dues for the 1997-1998 season.

    Furthermore, Complainant testified that he has been awarded 10-15 games per season, for every season that he has been employed with the Respondent, except for the 1997-1998 season. Although he was awarded 17 games during the 1998-1999 season, he only worked 15 games. He receives $40.08 per game and therefore suffered economic loss for the 1997-1998 season.

    He also suffered economic loss for the 1998-1999 season, because he testified that if he had worked during the 1997-1998 season, he would have gained the experience to be awarded higher-level, varsity games, which pay approximately $10.00-12.00 more than the games he currently is awarded. Unlike the Complainant, other referees that have been working the same number of seasons as the Complainant, including the 1997-1998 season, are receiving varsity-level games. Complainant testified that he would have received "a few" varsity-level games, although he could not give an exact estimate of how much he would have been paid for them.

    It is unclear, however, from Complainant’s testimony, or from the exhibits, whether the Complainant was required to pay for interpreter services. Complainant’s counsel requests $377.90 in her Prayer for Relief, however Complainant did not testify that he, himself, paid for same. Because the Complainant did not pay for same, it cannot be awarded, as it will not contribute to make him whole.

    V.      Order of Relief
    1. The Respondent shall pay to the Complainant the following:
      1. Monetary damages in the amount of $601.20, representing lost income for the 1997-1998 season.($40.08 x 15 games)
      2. Monetary damages in the amount of $30.00, representing lost income for the 1998-1999 season if Complainant had been awarded 3 ("a few") of his 15 games at the varsity-level.(12 games at $40.08/game and 3 games at $50.08 per game=$631.20) ($631.20 less $601.20 actually earned for 1998-1999=$30.00); and
      3. Monetary damages in the amount of $128.00, representing dues for membership during the 1997-1998 season.

      Grand Total to be paid to Complainant: $759.20

      1. Pursuant to General Statutes §46a-60(a), the Respondent, including its agents, officers, directors and employees, is prohibited from retaliating against the Complainant due to his filing of this discrimination complaint;
      2. The Respondent shall cease and desist from any discriminatory action in violation of the ADA and of General Statutes § 46a-60(a)(1) with regard to the Complainant and with regard to all employees who may or will in the future become similarly situated;
      3. The Respondent shall provide an interpreter and/or other reasonable accommodation for the Complainant and any other employee upon prior written request;
      4. The Respondent shall amend its bylaws to include a nondiscrimination clause; and
      5. The Respondent shall place signs, to be supplied by the Commission, specifying employees’ rights regarding employment discrimination pursuant to General Statutes § 46a-60(a)(1) and the ADA in a place where the same can be seen by all employees. The signs shall be installed not later than thirty days after the date of this order.

      It is so ordered this 29th day of July, 1999.


      Hon. Lisa B. Giliberto, Presiding Human Rights Referee