Monday, June 27, 2016

Case of the Day: City of Hartford Police Dep't v. Comm'n on Human Rights & Opportunities, 2016 Conn. Super. LEXIS 1233 (Conn. Super. Ct. June 1, 2016)


Vietnamese American rookie police officer was terminated after he complained about racist comment made by his ranking officer. The officer filed a complaint with the state commission on human rights and opportunities, which ordered the police department to pay more than $230,000 in damages. The police department appealed to Connecticut Superior Court, i.e. the lowest court in Connecticut judiciary.

The police department claimed that the referee of the commission erred by applying a "mixed motive" test rather than a "pretext" test. Both parties approached the commission with the pretext test, but the commission applied the mixed motive test. Mixed motive test shifts the burden of proof to the employer, but pretext test does not. Accordingly, the court ordered a new determination by the commission.


You simply shake your head reading a case like this--a wholly unnecessary reversal on appeal caused solely by the lower judge's incompetence and/or laziness. There was no reason why the referee would make an elementary mistake like this one, yet there it is, causing a reversal.

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