Contrary to my fellow blogger’s opinion, this decision is not a” yawner.” In Lyon, our Appellate Court had ruled that the State of Connecticut could not be sued in court under the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (our anti-discrimination law) unless the Claims Commissioner gave permission. This ruling ignored the plain language of the statute and ignored decades of practice by employment attorneys and judges.
The effect of Lyon was that employees of the State could not bring their discrimination claims to court and were forced to accept as their sole remedy a hearing at the CHRO. This forum deprived them of a right to a jury trial and the right to obtain reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees, among other limitations.
The Supreme Court got it right in reversing this terrible decision. Almost every practicioner I know predicted that Lyon would be reversed. Even the Attorney General’s office agreed that the Appellate Court’s reliance on the doctrine of sovereign immunity was incorrect.
Far from being a boring case, this ruling restores the important right of a jury trial in Superior Court to employees of the State of Connecticut.