Attorney General: The Honorable Louis Martin, CHRO Executive Director, 1996-018 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal

December 10, 1996

The Honorable Louis Martin
CHRO Executive Director
21 Grand Street
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Mr. Martin:

This is in response to your letter of November 27, 1996, in which you requested the opinion of this office as to whether the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (hereinafter "CHRO") retains jurisdiction pursuant to Public Act 96-241 Section 1, to process discriminatory practice complaints filed on or before January 1, 1996 when CHRO has issued a finding of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause not later than January 1, 1997, and one of the following circumstances applies:

  1. The Complainant has requested reconsideration and the reconsideration request is pending action by the Commission on January 1, 1997.
  2. The Complainant has requested reconsideration, the Commission has reconsidered the complaint, and the Commission's investigator is conducting additional investigation pursuant to the Commission's reconsideration.
  3. The Complainant has appealed the Commission's determination (merit assessment review or no reasonable cause) to court, the appeal is pending on January 1, 1997 and the court subsequently remands the case to the Commission for further investigation.
  4. The Complainant has appealed the Commission's determination of no reasonable cause to court and the court already has remanded the case to the Commission.
  5. The Attorney General or Commission Counsel have withdrawn or withdraw after January 1, 1997, the certification of the complaint to public hearing for further investigation.

For the reasons that follow, it is our opinion that CHRO does retain jurisdiction to process these discriminatory practice complaints in every one of the five circumstances described above.

The answer to this question is apparent from the plain language of Public Act 96-241. Section One provides as follows:

Section. 1. (a) Notwithstanding any provision of the general statutes to the contrary, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities shall have jurisdiction over any complaint filed pursuant to section 46a-82 of the general statutes on or before January 1, 1996, which has not been finally adjudicated or resolved by action of the commission, that the commission would have had jurisdiction over but for the failure of the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to comply with the time requirements of chapter 814c of the general statutes.

(b) If the commission fails to issue a determination of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause on any such complaint not later than January 1, 1997, the executive director of the commission shall issue forthwith a release of the complaint from the commission, allowing the complainant to bring a civil action. Upon receipt of a release pursuant to this section, the complainant may bring a civil action in accordance with the provisions of sections 46a-100, 46a-101, 46a-103 and 46a-104 of the general statutes, notwithstanding the statute of limitations pursuant to section 46a-102 of the general statutes. (emphasis added)

The plain language of Section 1(a) of P.A. 96-241 clearly provides in pertinent part that CHRO "shall have jurisdiction over any complaint filed pursuant to section 46a-82 of the general statutes on or before January 1, 1996, which has not been finally adjudicated or resolved by action of the commission...." In every one of the five circumstances you described in your letter of November 27, 1996, the complaints have "not been finally adjudicated or resolved by action of the commission" within the meaning of Section 1(a) of P.A. 96-241. Section 1(b) provides that if CHRO fails to make a determination of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause not later than January 1, 1997, the CHRO Executive Director shall issue a release to the complainant to bring a civil action in Superior Court. In all of the five circumstances you described in your letter of November 27, 1996, you stated that "the Commission has issued a finding of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause and one of the following circumstances apply." Therefore, so long as CHRO has issued "a determination of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause on any such complaint not later than January 1, 1997" within the meaning of Section 1(b) of P.A. 96-241, it retains jurisdiction to continue to process them, and need not issue a release of the complaint from the commission.

Therefore, we conclude that CHRO retains jurisdiction to process discriminatory practice complaints filed prior to January 1, 1996 in every one of the five circumstances you described, as long as CHRO has issued a finding of reasonable cause or no reasonable cause not later than January 1, 1997.

We trust that this answers your inquiry.

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

David M. Teed
Assistant Attorney General


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