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EEOC Report: Number of Discrimination and Harassment Complaints in Connecticut Increase

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD  – While other areas of the nation saw a significant decrease in workplace harassment and discrimination complaints, the number of complaints in Connecticut has increased, according to a 2013 report from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Connecticut workers filed 294 harassment and discrimination charges in 2013, a six percent increase over the previous year.

Experts say Connecticut’s spike in discrimination and harassment in the workplace might be misleading. There may be many more cases than reported.

“Although the numbers indicate that there is a decline in some states, we can not be remiss to notice that the numbers are still high in many areas.  There have been some significant climbs such as in the state of Connecticut,” said Isaura Gonzalez, a licensed Clinical Psychologist in New York. “These numbers might also not be truly indicative of the greater problem at hand because many employees chose to handle the situation by not making complaints and removing themselves altogether from the situation.”

According to the EEOC website, any form of discrimination and harassment in employment violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the1967 Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. These kinds of harassments include “unwelcome behavior that is severed and pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile and abusive environment.” And if they are based on race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, national origin, age, these behaviors violate federal laws.

hartfordguardian-Connecticut-H&D-Stats-Although discrimination and harassment in employment are prohibited by law, the number of complaints have been increasing since it was first implemented. The categories with the most complaints in 2012 was race/color and disability. Age and gender follow respectively,  according to the state’s five-year report. Retaliation for filing complaints is also significant.

The state’s increase is unlike other parts of the nation, which saw a decrease in workplace harassment and discrimination. And because the economy is still fighting its way back from the Great Recession in 2007, experts say some employees may have opted to stay put and stay silent about discrimination and workplace bullying.

“It is no secret that in difficult economic times, employees tend to stay at their jobs, even if they experience harassment or workplace bullying.  When things get bad enough, they file complaints with the [Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunity agency] CHRO,” said Bloomfield Attorney Shawn Council. “A decade or two ago, harassed and bullied workers would change jobs but not now. They cannot do so as easily.  Instead they sue for peace of mind, an end to the harassment/bullying and perceived future workplace stability.”

Others say the spike in Connecticut’s number of complaints could be a false positive. That’s because as more people become aware that there is recourse and that protections are available, they feel safer speaking up.

“In the past too many
 people were afraid to even say anything if they were being harassed for
fear of making things worse,” said Walter Meyer, author of the novel Rounding Third and a nationally recognized anti-bullying advocate, which delves into the issue of bullying and suicide. “Without more research it would be hard to say 
if what appears to be a spike in occurrences is really just an increase in

Meyers added that 
sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference among bullying, harassment and
 discrimination. But in many cases, the nature of the harassment is undeniable.

“If someone is being bullied because they are gay or black
 or a woman, it can cross the line to all three,” he said. “In most states, including
 Connecticut, there are clearer protections from harassment or
 discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexual orientation and other 

Tara Fisher is a conflict resolution specialist based in New York. She said bullying doesn’t always end on the playground and employers can learn how to recognize and eliminate workplace bullying. In her article on how to mitigate workplace bullying, she points out the nuances of different workplace bullying cases, saying:

“Workplace bullies are a very real 
and common drain on productivity and morale in many companies. 
In fact, according to a 2010 study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35 
percent of workers have experienced bullying firsthand. Men and women are 
culprits as well as victims. Sixty-eight percent of bullying is same-gender 
harassment. When women are the bullies, they target other women in 80 
percent of cases.”

Fisher also said that workplace bullies may humiliate targets, spread rumors or gossip, or in 
extreme cases, stalk or threaten targets.

And much like children and teens, Fisher said, adult bullies also 
may recruit other adults who prefer to be friends rather than foe with bullies. These complicit observers will also support the bully’s efforts to harm targets, thus further 
isolating victims.

Many experts agree with Fisher, saying discrimination, harassment and bullying can have a significant and lasting impact on the victims and on their employers. Victims’ health and work performance suffer. They may have health problems such 
as headaches, difficulty concentrating, depression, and sleep and anxiety 

Also, victims may 
fear meetings, office activities or even going to the workplace. So their work 
performance often suffers.

According to Jimmy Lin, Vice President of Product Management & Corporate Development at The Network discrimination and harassment continue to rise in the workplace because of the lack of proper training companies provide employees. Too often, companies just hand employees a 200-page book about code of conduct and do little or no other training.

Technology has also added another dimension to the discrimination and harassment, and the number of cyber bullying among adults have also increase and complicated the nature of work in America. Connecticut businesses and other organizations, he said, could turn this trend around by having more training in place.

“Preventing harassment and discrimination in the workplace needs to start with a solid policy. Managers also need to know how to deal with these issues and when to escalate them,” Lin said. “Incidents are often buried by middle managers who do not respond properly or by the time issues escalate, are afraid to get additional help from above. A comprehensive workplace harassment training program needs to include periodic education and ongoing awareness communications – it can’t be viewed as a “once and done” exercise.”



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CT Reports Final Tally for Obamacare Enrollees

HARTFORD — The final tally is in for the number of enrollees under the Affordable Care Act through Connecticut’s website.

According to Access Health CT officials, 208,301 people enrolled in under the ACA or Obamacare between Oct. 1 2013 and March 31, 2014.

State officials report that of the total amount,  78,713 have enrolled in a private insurance carrier, Qualified Health Plan.

Additionally, the number of enrollees surged on the deadline, March 31. AHCT received 5,365 voicemail messages from consumers with questions regarding their application and collected contact information from approximately 5,000 individuals who attempted to enroll in person or online and encountered some difficulty.

“Over the past two weeks, our team has made follow up calls to each of those individuals to assist them through the enrollment process, and we have now completed all open enrollment applications,” said Kevin Counihan, Access Health CT CEO.  “We’re honored to have worked with so many organizations throughout our State and helped tens of thousands of previously uninsured or underinsured residents obtain the care they deserve.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projected that Connecticut would enroll 33,000 consumers in private insurance plans, a target that was exceed in December 2013, and more than doubled in the final tally. Of the 208,301 enrollees, 78,713 enrolled with a private insurance carrier and 129,588 enrolled in Medicaid.

Of the 78,713 residents who enrolled with a private insurance carrier, 78 percent received a tax subsidy and 22 percent did not.  These final enrollment numbers were calculated after redeterminations, duplications and cancellations from insurance carriers.

“These final enrollment numbers highlight Connecticut’s success in implementing the Affordable Care Act,” said Governor Dannel Malloy. “Thanks to the hard work of AHCT, state agencies, community health centers, and faith-based organizations, we far exceed our goal and as a result more people have access to more affordable healthcare.”

State officials also plan to do follow up work to “help us understand the extent of the impact we’ve had so far, build on this success,  and continue efforts to make Connecticut a healthier place to live and work,” said  Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, co-chair of the Access Health CT Board. 

Until open enrollment begins on Nov. 15, 2014, residents will only be able to shop for coverage through Access Health CT under special circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or loss of insurance coverage from an employer.

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Hartford Moves Closer to Open Government

HARTFORD -- Hartford is moving closer to being an open government.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra on Thursday released an executive order mandating all city departments to publish raw government data on the city’s website.

Under this order the Chief Information Officer is charged with managing and updating the information regularly. To kick off the effort, twenty data sets will be released in the next several months including financial, budget, assessors, tax, grand list, and health and human services information, Segarra said.

In the past, uninformed city workers would stall access to data by asking for a FOIA request and charging excessive fees.

“This is about far more than transparency,” Segarra said. “Opening the door to public information makes our services easier to access, our city departments more efficient, and our collaborations with strategic partners more effective. Sharing data allows residents to understand how government works and gives them a chance to play a more active role in it.”

Read the Executive Order No. 2014-1 .

“Mayor Segarra has made this such a priority, and I’m excited to play a role in modernizing the way our information is shared,” said Sabina Sitaru, Director of MetroHartford Information Services. “Open data exponentially increases the resources available to study how the City works, it encourages public engagement but it also drastically decreases the time it takes to gather information internally.”

To implement the online portal the City of Hartford has signed a contract with Socrata, Inc. The open data will include maps, charts, graphs and it will integrate with the City’s enterprise Geographic Information System (GIS). The data will not include any personal or private records or any other personally identifiable information.

The Open Data Management Team will present its first report to the Mayor within 6 months and then yearly progress reports thereafter. Aligning with the State of Connecticut, Hartford is the first municipality to establish an Open Data Portal.

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CT Legislators Approve Minimum Wage Hike to $10.10

UPDATED: Friday, March 28, 2014, 9:55 a.m.

By Ann-Marie Adams, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Connecticut will increase its minimum wage to $10.10, sealing its place in history as the first in the nation to have a minimum wage that closely matches the rate of inflation.

That’s because the state’s General Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to increase the minimum wage in 2017.  The House’s vote was 87-54. And the Senate’s vote was 21-14.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign the bill on Thursday.

Support for the bill’s passage came from all quarters, including the state’s largest AFL-CIO union.

minimum-wage-hartford-ct“Raising the minimum wage will help reduce our state’s income gap — the 2nd largest in the nation — and helps us retain young workers who are on the verge of leaving the state because wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living,” said Council 4 Executive Director Sal Luciano. “Our members are excited that the Governor put forward this plan, and that the Legislature acted on it so quickly.”

Currently, the state’s minimum wage is $8.70 per hour, which when adjusted for inflation, is below the rate it was during when it was first implemented under the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration in 1938.

According to a recent study, about 90,000 Connecticut workers earn the minimum wage. And more than half the minimum wage earners are women. The age for the average worker is 35.

State Sen. Eric Coleman championed the passage of the bill, saying: “Working families across Connecticut will see a genuine change in their day-to-day lives as a result of the legislation we passed. Faced with the costs of housing, food, utilities, car maintenance and gasoline, our current minimum wage isn’t sufficient for many families to make ends meet. This will help our families and lift them up at a time when they need it most. We can be proud that Connecticut is leading the way on this issue.”

The state’s legislative move comes after Malloy’s campaign and President Barack Obama visited Connecticut on March 5 to push for a nation-wide increase of the minimum wage.

In a statement to the press, Obama said: “I hope Members of Congress, governors, state legislators and business leaders across our country will follow Connecticut’s lead to help ensure that no American who works full time has to raise a family in poverty, and that every American who works hard has the chance to get ahead.”

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch agreed.

“Increasing the minimum wage will not only help more families make ends meet in Bridgeport, but will serve as a catalyst for economic mobility by putting additional resources in the hands of hard-working consumers.”

Some Republicans balked at the idea of raising the minimum wage, saying a raise would curtail hiring and retard job growth.  The GOP bolstered their claim after a Congressional Budget Office released a report that says America would lose about 2 million jobs.

An author of the report has since said others have misinterpreted the report. And the Obama administration has vigorously refuted that claim.

Furthermore, many small and large businesses support the minimum wage increase, according to a Bloomberg poll.

Similar proposals are being considered in, among other states,  Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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Scholarships Available for Migrant Students

WASHINGTON, DC —  Five migrant/seasonal farmworker college students will be selected to live and work in D.C. for an intensive eight week internship and professional mentoring program. The goal is to provide life altering experiences and networks to help students make the intellectual, cognitive, and emotional transition from agricultural life to that of a professional.

Instead of youth working in the fields harvesting fruits or vegetables in the sweltering summer heat, they will live with host families, be placed in positions from the Department of Agriculture or the National Education Association, to the Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs, or Farmworker Justice. They will all be overseen by the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association.

The goal of Migrant Seasonal Head Start is to prepare children to enter school ready to learn. Born 49 years ago from a desire to remove as many obstacles to academic success as possible, President Johnson created Head Start in 1965, as part of his War on Poverty. In 2014, President Obama reaffirmed the value of Head Start by providing 8.8 billon dollars to extend Head Start opportunities for America’s vulnerable children. This internship is a capstone to those investments.


“Every child needs a helping hand and a mentor. Professionally, we all had someone help us get where we are today,” states Cleo Rodriguez, Jr., Executive Director of NMSHSA. “NMSHSA is proud to continue extending our hand to students from across our great nation. We hope our investment will impact the lives, goals, and dreams of our interns and in turn we hope these new professionals will impact the lives of countless other migrant and seasonal youth in years to come!”


The selected farmworker students must be former Migrant/Seasonal Head Start children (The Office of Head Start serves three divergent populations: Regional Head Start, Native American Head Start, and Migrant/Seasonal Head Start.), be enrolled in college, and come from a family that is, or has, worked the agricultural fields of America.


We recognize the many obstacles of being both a migrant/seasonal farmworker and a college student. Therefore, the youth we are targeting are those who will benefit the greatest from the structure and potential of this opportunity. Our paid internship offers: stipends, on-the-job training, networking opportunities, professional skills development, leadership development and personal/professional mentoring from consummate D.C. professionals, many of whom are also former farm workers.


Despite entering our third program year, we already count great success as donations and sponsorships have increased to double the possible number of interns, and previous participants have earned year long fellowships, and continued toward both master and PhD’s.


2014 applications are available at and are due no later than 5 pm EST on March 31, 2014.

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Don’t Believe the Hype Against Obamacare; Sign Up for Insurance

If you are uninsured and live in the Greater Hartford area, all roads should lead to Community Health Services on Albany Avenue to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.

Don’t believe the hype against so-called Obamacare. That’s because your insurance premium could be less than $100. And if you are eligible for Medicaid, your insurance premium could definitely be $0.

editorialbannerthumbAt this point, responsible individuals would have done research and found out the facts for themselves before they let people give them all kinds of cock and bull stories. And check this out: The people who are discouraging, or sabotaging other people’s effort to sign up, have insurance themselves. Yes, people. They have insurance.

If you want to be covered by health insurance this year, the deadline to sign up is March 31. Appointments are available for next week. If you miss this deadline, you have to wait until November to sign up for the following year. But for now, any individual could try the service for one year and judge for herself whether there are drawbacks to being on this particular insurance. Duh!

For many, it takes less than 30 minutes, with the help of a staff person, to sign up. And it’s best to go before crunch time because even now the state’s website,, occasionally malfunctions. And CHS workers and others have to call in to AccessHealthCT to sort out kinks in the system.

To date, more than 5 million people across the nation have enrolled.  And in Connecticut, more than 160,000 have enrolled, surpassing the state’s targeted goal of 100,000.  We can only think more people are not enrolled because anemic strategies have been employed to reach the people who need the insurance the most.

That’s unfortunate.

But with 10 days left to go, uninsured people should embrace the unknown and sign up today. With uncertainty, it is indeed better to be safe than sorry. And as we have seen on numerous occasions, ignorance coupled with an unexpected medical condition, can be extremely expensive.

Get to it.





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Assembly to Hold Hearing on Juice Bars

HARTFORD —  State Rep. Matt Ritter thinks too many of Hartford’s juice bars are flaunting the law by serving liquor to underage customers

That’s why Ritter (D-Hartford) has introduced legislation concerning juice bars. And it will receive a public hearing before the General Asse mbly’s Judiciary Committee on March 24 at 12 p.m. in Legislative Office Building room 2C.

“It became apparent during [a] meeting that there are some simple steps that we can take as a legislature to help mitigate the problems that tend to occur when you have underage patrons in a bar serving alcohol,”  Ritter said. “The bill is still a work in progress and I look forward to hearing comments and recommendations on the bill at the public hearing.”

The bill, House Bill 5538, was drafted after a public forum was held in December at the State Capitol with Hartford residents, elected officials, the Commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection and Hartford police officers.

In summary, the proposed bill increases the fine for owners of juice bar establishments who violate state laws, tightens restrictions on how and when juice bar owners notify local police departments about certain events, and requires that patrons of legal drinking age wear wristbands at these establishments to help local police immediately know who is of legal drinking age.

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Voices of Women of Color to Honor Hartford Leaders

HARTFORD –  The Voices of Women of Color will host its second annual Trailblazers Awards Ceremony on March 22 at the American Legion McKinney-King Post on Main Street.

The event is scheduled to begin 6 p.m. at Post No. Local 142, Inc. at 2121 Main St. in Hartford.

The ceremony will recognize leaders in a host of fields, including education, health, social justice and politics. Proceeds from the event will be donated to the CREC Trude Mero Family Resource Center at the Wilson-Gray YMCA. 

The awards ceremony will recognize Karen Bailey-Addison, Executive Director, Northend Senior Center; Andrea Comer, State Board of Education Member and Chief Development Officer for FUSE; Walter “Doc” Hurley, founder of the Doc Hurley Classic and Doc Hurley Scholarship Foundation; Joseph Suggs, Former State Treasurer; John B. Stewart, Hartford’s first African-American Fire Chief.

In addition to the awardees, U.S. Congressman John Larson, Governor Dannell P. Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra will attend Saturday’s event.

Based in Hartford, the Voices of Women of Color LLC (VOWOC) teaches, empowers and encourages women of color by providing them with leadership skills that lead to gainful employment opportunities and civil activism in the public and private sectors. By bringing women of color together in safe spaces, the Voices seeks to effectively break down the barriers that keep women feeling isolated, disengaged and powerless.

For more information on the Voices of Women of Color and the Trailblazers Award, please call 860-263-8995 or visit


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SCSU to Host Forum on Ukraine Crisis

NEW HAVEN – Southern Connecticut State University will hold a program on March 31 to discuss what’s called the biggest confrontation between Russia and the United States since the Cold War: the crisis in Ukraine.

The Ukraine, a nation of 46 million, occupies a strategic position between Europe and Russia. Ukrainian-Americans have issued a statement, saying Ukrainian Congress Committee of America (UCCA) has called for Bipartisanship in US Policy on Standing up to Russian Aggression and Major non-NATO Ally Designation Status for Ukraine.

SCSU’s program, which will delve into U.S. policy on Russian aggression and other matters, will run from noon to 1:45 p.m. in the Student Center Ballroom. It is free and open to the public.

It will be a panel discussion involving several professors, as well as a national security expert from the University of New Haven. Panelists are expected to tackle the latest developments regarding Ukraine, including topics such as:
  • What is the fallout from yesterday’s referendum in Crimea?
  • What is the effect of Russian troops being stationed in Crimea?
  • Will Russia seek to annex or control other parts of Ukraine/Eastern Europe?
  • How should the West respond?
  • How will this crisis likely affect the future relationship between the United States and Russia?
 For additional information, here’s a link to the event Web page:
Photo: A military personnel member believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard on a military vehicle outside outside Simferopol Photo: REUTERS.

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Mobile CPR Clinic Provides Valuable Lessons at Latino Expo

 latino expo-heart-attackHARTFORD — Sudden cardiac arrests strikes more than 300,000 people in the U.S. yearly. But less than 30 percent of those victims receive timely CPR.

That’s why the Mobile CPR Project  recently brought its 20-minute training sessions to the Latino Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center. The program was created to increase survival from sudden cardiac arrest, by traveling to bring CPR training directly to people in Hartford.

Having a bystander nearby who is able and willing to perform CPR can double the chances of a victim’s survival, yet thousands of people go untrained due to cost restraints and lack of training options in many cities, said Dr. Ben Abella, who works as an emergency room doctor at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital.

The project provides simple instructions and easy-to-use training equipment, completely free of charge because of a sponsorship from Travelers.

The course trains in hands-only CPR, eliminating the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation factor, which may be a deterrent for many.  Those who participated in the training received a CPR kit to practice at home.

Training sessions can be made available for any group that makes a request, organizers said. The Mobile CPR Project will travel to any public location in Hartford to offer training. 

For more information, visit

Photo: Ann Marie Adams/The Hartford Guardian: Volunteer trainer guides participants on the right techniques to provide CPR during the Latino Expo at the Connecticut Convention Center.

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