Race/Sex/Religion Discrimination  Articles

Connecticut Expands Anti-Discrimination Law to Include Gender Identity Bias

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            Effective October 1, 2011, the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) prohibits discrimination based on “gender identity or expression.”   “Gender Identity or expression” is defined as “gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” Gender related identity can be shown by providing evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender related identity, consistent and uniform assertion of the gender related identity, or any other evidence that the gender related identity is sincerely held, part of a person’s core identity, or not being asserted for an improper purpose.

Employers Liable for Contractor’s Discriminatory Acts

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            The Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Connecticut, recently ruled that employers can be held directly liable for the discriminatory acts of contractors hired to perform certain tasks on their behalf. In Halpert v. Manhattan Apts., the court found a company that hired an independent contractor to conduct job interviews was liable for discriminatory remarks made by the contractor during the hiring process. While the case involved the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the court made it clear that the same principles apply under Title VII.

Clear and Consistent Reasons for Termination Essential in Defending Discrimination Suits

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            In most discrimination cases employers are required to articulate a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for taking an adverse action against an employee. When an employer is able to do so, and the employee is unable to prove the offered reason is false, the employee will normally lose the case. For this reason it is important that employers carefully determine the reason for any adverse decision, clearly communicate it to the employee, and not deviate from it in subsequent communications or litigation proceedings.

Genetic Information Discrimination

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            Effective November 21, 2009 employers will be subject to a new set of federal rules regarding the use of genetic information. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits employers from making employment decisions based on genetic information. The law covers all private employers with 15 or more employees as well as all public sector employees. Under the law, employers may not request employees to undergo genetic testing, use information from such tests taken by an employee or family member, or consider family medical histories. Family members are defined as all relatives to the fourth degree, whether by blood or marriage, or adoption.

Employers Have Duty to Prevent Sexual Orientation Harassment

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            In a case of first impression, the Connecticut Superior Court held the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act imposes liability on employers who fail to prevent the creation of a hostile work environment based on sexual orientation. Patino v. Birken Manuf. Co., CV 05 4016120 S, (Conn. Super. Ct. May 15, 2009).


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