CHRO: Connecticut Civil Rights Law Chronology

Connecticut Civil Rights Law Chronology

Connecticut Civil Rights Law Chronology

Like every body of law, civil rights law in America has been evolving since our founding fathers first declared their independence from English rule. Similarly, Connecticut civil rights law is in a constant state of evolution. CHRO, as the state’s civil rights enforcement agency, has evolved with, as well as contributed to the development of human rights law in Connecticut and beyond. This page provides a chronological history of Connecticut civil rights law, highlighting the contributions made by CHRO through the years.

Chronology of Selected Connecticut Laws & Executive Orders

·       1818    Connecticut State Constitution was adopted, declaring all men equal in rights and guaranteeing freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly.

  • 1866    Connecticut was first state to ratify 14th Amendment to U.S. Constitution. (Guaranteeing equal protection under the law)
  • 1868    Public schools required to serve all children regardless of race or color.
  • 1876    The State Constitution amended to eliminate the requirement that voters be white. (23rd Amendment)
  • 1884    Deprivation of state or federal constitutional or legal rights because of alienage, color or race was made punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. (Sec 46a-58)
  • 1887    Discrimination in the sale of insurance because of color forbidden.
  • 1905    Public Accommodations Act adopted, guaranteeing full and equal service in places of public accommodation, resort or amusement. (Sec. 46a-64)
  • 1917    Law makes a person liable to fine and imprisonment if he "by his advertisement" ridicules or holds up to contempt any person or persons because of creed, color, denomination, nationality or race.
  • 1920    State ratifies the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
  • 1937    State employment discrimination because of color or political or religious affiliations was outlawed under the State Merit System (Sec. 5-227)
  • 1943    Inter-Racial Commission founded by law, the nation's first official civil rights agency.
  • 1947    Fair Employment Practices Act was adopted, making it an illegal practice for employers of five or more persons, employment agencies, unions or individuals to discriminate in terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of race, color, religious creed, national origin or ancestry. Under the jurisdiction of the Inter-Racial Commission, the law also authorized the Commission to study the problems of discrimination in all or specific fields of human relationships. (Chapter 814c, P.A. 171)
  • 1949    Commission authorized to adjust complaints under the Public Accommodations Act based on race, color or creed. Discrimination in public housing projects prohibited.
  • 1949    Segregation is outlawed in the Connecticut National Guard.
  • 1951    Commission on Civil Rights was adopted as a more appropriate name for the Inter-Racial Commission.
  • 1953    Public Accommodations Act amended to cover all types of businesses that depend on the public for their support (P.A. 326)
  • 1955    General Assembly amends the Public Accommodations Act giving the Commission authority to initiate complaints where it is thought that discrimination is practiced in public and publicly-assisted housing. (P.A. 55-410) Legislature passes an amendment to the Fair Employment Practices Act making discriminatory employment advertising illegal.
  • 1959    Public Accommodations Act amended to cover private housing and authorizes the Commission to initiate complaints if there is reason to believe discrimination is practiced.
  • 1959    Fair Employment Practices Act amended to provide affirmative powers which include the authority to order a complainant be hired, readmitted to union membership, and/or be paid back wages, if the complainant has been the victim of discrimination. The Act was further amended to cover persons who are discriminated against because of their age. (P.A. 59-145)
  • 1963    Discrimination in the sale or rental of most private housing prohibited.
  • 1965    A new section in the revised Connecticut Constitution's Declaration of Rights states "No person shall be denied the equal protection of the law nor be subjected to segregation or discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of his civil or political rights because of religion, race, color, ancestry, or national origin. (Article I, Sec 20)
  • 1965    Commission is empowered to subpoena employment records during employment investigations and to petition for an injunction in housing cases. National origin or ancestry added to public accommodations and housing law.
  • 1965    Contract compliance law requires every contract to which the state is a party must contain a clause stating that the contractor agrees not to discriminate or permit discrimination. (P.A. 65-366)
  • 1967    Protection against sex discrimination added to the Fair Employment Practices Law. (P.A. 67-426)
  • 1967    Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities adopted as a more appropriate name for the Commission on Civil Rights.
  • 1967    State contractors required to supply CHRO with information regarding their employment practices and procedures. (P.A. 67-284)
  • 1967    A Code of Fair Practices was established by Executive Order of Governor Dempsey, to be observed by state agencies and officials in complying with civil and human rights laws in all official acts. Among the special areas that call for anti-discrimination procedures are separate sections on: all state personnel practices; education, vocational, employment and other training counseling and placement services; distribution of funds, grants, benefits, loans or other financial assistance; all housing, resorts and other areas covered by the Public Accommodations Statute; and contracts and subcontracts for goods and services, or for construction of public buildings or public works. The Code repeats the General Statutes' nondiscrimination clause included in all public contracts, with its requirement that all state contractors "not discriminate or permit discrimination." (Sec.4-114a) The public was urged to cooperate in carrying out the policies of this Code and the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities was ordered to continue to expand its enforcement and education programs. All state agencies were ordered to cooperate fully with these programs; to include anti-discrimination activities in their annual reports; to comply with Commission requests for relevant information; and to consider Commission recommendations for implementing state anti-discrimination policies. (Executive Orders, February and September, 1967)
  • 1967    Acting on recommendations of the Governor's Conference on Human Rights and Opportunities, the General Assembly created the Legislative Commission and the Executive Committee on Human Rights and Opportunities, which sought to assure compliance with all civil and human rights laws by executive branch agencies. (P.A. 67-636) CHRO was named secretariat to the Executive Committee.
  • 1969    Provisions of the 1967 Executive Order, A Code of Fair Practices, were adopted into law by the General Assembly, with enforcement by the Court of Common Pleas. (Sec 46a-70 through 46a-78)
  • 1971    By Executive Order, Governor Meskill required state contractors and subcontractors to file compliance reports on their equal employment opportunity practices, prescribed by state law. He authorized the labor commissioner to administer and enforce these regulations, including the right to cancel violators' contracts; ordered all state agencies to name their own compliance officers; and outlined procedures whereby other state agencies can recommend that CHRO bring appropriate enforcement proceedings in cases where substantial violation may exist. (Executive Order #3, June 16, 1971)
  • 1973    An independent Permanent Commission on the Status of Women was established, to oversee women's rights and needs, with discrimination complaints to be referred to CHRO. (Chapter 812)
  • 1973    By Executive Order, Governor Meskill required the State Personnel Department to assume primary responsibility for assuring that equal employment opportunities exist within all state agencies and departments. The State Personnel Department was also ordered to develop and administer a statewide affirmative action plan. (Executive Order #18, May 8, 1973)
  • 1973    Physical disability added as a protected class. (P.A. 73-279, P.A. 74-57) Persons with a criminal record added as a limited protected class. (P.A. 73-347) Sex added as protected class in public accommodations and housing law. Sex and marital status added as protected classes in credit transactions. (P.A. 73-573) Pregnancy leave benefits and job rights were specified under employment discrimination law. (P.A. 73-647)
  • 1974    The State Constitution's Declaration of Rights was amended to prohibit the denial of equal protection of the law and segregation or discrimination in the exercise of civil or political rights because of sex. (Article I, Sec. 20)
  • 1974    Marital status added as a protected class under housing law. Sex added as a protected class to contract compliance law and to the law prohibiting deprivation of legal or constitutional rights.
  • 1975    Development of Affirmative Action Plan in cooperation with the State Personnel Department was required of all State agencies, departments, boards and commissions. The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities was authorized to review and approve each plan, issue complaints if plans are not filed or are in violation of anti-discrimination laws, monitor the activity of such plans, and report annually to the Governor and the General Assembly. (Sec. 46a-68, P.A. 75-536)
  • 1975    Age added as protected class in public accommodations and credit transactions law. (P.A. 75-350)
  • 1976    Discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, ancestry and physical disability prohibited in credit transactions.
  • 1977    General Assembly passes House Joint Resolution #25 (April 27, 1977) authorizing the Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee to conduct an investigation of compliance with sections 4-6b, 4-6d, 4-61k and 4-61s by the Departments of  Education, Labor and Transportation.
  • 1977    The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is granted authority to receive and initiate complaints for violations of the State's Code of Fair Practices, effective October 1, 1977. (Sec. 46a-82)
  • 1977    Deprivation of state or federal legal or constitutional rights expanded to cover physical disability.
  • 1977    CHRO authorized to petition court for injunctive relief in employment cases.
  • 1978    Mental retardation added as a protected class. (P.A. 78-148) Mandatory retirement based upon age is prohibited for private sector employees. (P.A. 78-350)
  • 1979    Present or past history of mental disorder is added as a protected class. (P.A. 79-480) Employers are required to make reasonable effort to transfer pregnant workers engaged in occupations which are believed to be hazardous to a temporary, suitable position.
  • 1980    All statutes concerning human rights and opportunity are revised and recodified. (Chapter 814c)
  • 1980    Sexual harassment is specifically prohibited in employment law. (P.A. 80-285) Religion and national origin covered under law prohibiting deprivation of legal or constitutional rights. Intentional desecration of property and cross burning are made Class A Misdemeanors.
  • 1981     Refusal to rent to families with children in some rental property is prohibited. (P.A. 81-81)
  • 1983    After a sunset review process the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is reestablished with additional responsibilities and obligations to review agency affirmative action plans, provide training and technical assistance to affirmative action officers in plan development and implementation, and issue regulations establishing standards for agency affirmative action plans.
  • 1984    Governor William A. O'Neill issues Executive Order 9 reinforcing the efforts and commitment of state government to equal opportunity through affirmative action, directing all agencies to comply with affirmative action statutes and regulations, designating CHRO as the central coordinating agency for assuring that equal opportunity through affirmative action exists within state service, mandating the Commission to provide training and technical assistance to all agency affirmative action officers, requiring agency heads to ensure that affirmative action officers are fully trained, and making CHRO responsible for supervising, reviewing and monitoring the development of state agency affirmative action plans and for providing policy guidance, coordination, and direction in the uniform development and implementation of affirmative action plans by state agencies.
  • 1984    Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities issues regulations establishing substantive standard for agency affirmative action plans and procedures for review and approval/disapproval of such plans.
  • 1984    State Constitution's Declaration of Rights is amended to cover denial of equal protections of the law and segregation and discrimination in the exercise or enjoyment of civil or political rights because of physical or mental disability.
  • 1988    Discrimination on the basis of mental disability prohibited in public accommodations and housing.
  • 1989    Lawful source of income added as a protected class in housing and public accommodations protections.
  • 1990    Public Act 90-246 creates separate fair housing statute distinct from public accommodations law and makes Connecticut housing law comparable to federal law in details of substantive provisions and in procedural rights and remedies, which include substantial penalties for violations.
  • 1990    Public Act 90-330 adds learning disability as a protected class.
  • 1990    CHRO issues Regulations on contract compliance and approval of contract compliance programs.
  • 1991    Public Act 91-58 adds sexual orientation as a protected class, as proscribed in sections 4a-60a and 46a-81a to 46a-81o.
  • 1991    Private right of action provided for complainants who have filed employment complaints  still pending with CHRO after 210 days. (P.A. 91-331)
  • 1992    Commission authorized to require employers to post notices and provide training to supervisory employees concerning sexual harassment. (P.A. 92-85)
  • 1993    CHRO issues Regulations concerning description of organization, rules of practice, and personal data.
  • 1994    Public Act. 94-238 authorizes CHRO to use mandatory mediation and to dismiss some cases without a full investigation under specific limited circumstances.
  • 1998    Public Act 98-180 adds genetic testing as a protected class.
  • 1998    Public Act 98-205 encourages the state to hire and retain disabled persons.
  • 2011    Public Act 11-55 adds gender identity or expression as a protected class.


Content Last Modified on 8/26/2011 10:58:10 AM