Employees in Connecticut are protected from discrimination and other unfair treatment under a law called the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA).  The law does many good things.  The purpose of the law is to protect employees from unfair treatment in the workplace.  Like being fired because of someone's gender, race, and other things.  

There is a trap in the law, however.  A trap for anyone who is not legally trained, and even for those who are.  

You should definatley be aware of the special statute of limitations found in Connecticut General Statute § 46a-102.  The rule says that you must file a lawsuit in the Superior Court no later than two years after you file your claim with the CHRO.  Two years after the date you filed your claim with the CHRO; not the date the CHRO decided your claim.  If you don't, you are out of luck. Your case is over.  This rule applies even if the CHRO is still investigating the case.  

The CHRO is the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities, and they are an administrative agency of the State of Connecticut.  They are charged with the task of enforcing employment laws like discrimination in the workplace.  You are required to file your employment discrimination-type claim with them.  Then they investigate, and try to help.  They will be involved in most employment cases. 

The problem with this rule is that it was made under the assumption that when the CHRO investigated a case, the investigation would take a relatively short period of time--certainly no where near two years.  The makers of the rule wanted to make the deadline for filing suit long after the end of the CHRO investigation.  They had good intentions.  But their good intentions were based on thier belief that CHRO investigations were short--well less than two years.  That is false.  CHRO investigations sometimes go longer than two years. 

Another problem with the law is there is actually another statute of limitations that you must remember.   That one says that you must file your employment lawsuit no later than 90 days after you receive a "release to sue" from the CHRO in Connecticut.  

The law is confusing.  It is a trap.  There is no logical reason to require a lawsuit within two years after filing with the CHRO.  There will be situations where people are forced to sue (because the two years is coming up) when the case is still being investigated by the CHRO.  The rule that requires suits to be filed no later than 90 days after receiving the "release to sue" from the CHRO is a more logical statute of limitations because most claimants will assume that the law -- whatever it is -- allows the CHRO to do their full investigation before a lawsuit must be filed.  Then, when their investigation is complete, that is when the clock starts ticking to file a lawsuit.

If you or anyone you know has an employment law case in Connecticut we can help.  We handle cases all over Connecticut although our main office is in Groton, Connecticut.  Our main office is at 100 Fort Hill Road, Groton, Connecticut.  Our satelite offices are in Shelton and East Berlin.  You can call us at 860-445-8521 or toll free at 888-717-4211.

Peter J. Bartinik, Jr.
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Civil Trial Attorney, Practicing Law in Connecticut
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