A home health services company based in Farmington on Thursday announced it has sued the state of Connecticut, two state agencies and a private company contracted by the state, alleging that the private company made repeated discriminatory demands regarding home health aides.
David Slossberg of Hurwitz, Sagarin, Slossberg & Knuff, who is representing plaintiff the Center for Transitional Living, described examples of the alleged discrimination in a complaint filed in the District of Connecticut.
Between 2017 and summer 2020, state contractor Advanced Behavioral Health informed the center that clients were seeking “Caucasian staff,” “a Caucasian female” and a female employee with “no accent,” Slossberg wrote. “On or about Dec. 24, 2019, ABH referred a client to CLT and specified that the client ‘will not work with any staff that have strong accents, cannot speak English or are African-American,’” Slossberg wrote.
The center refused to implement the requests, citing its own nondiscrimination policies and legal responsibilities, and has lost out on referrals as a result, according to the complaint.
In an interview, Slossberg described the requests as “unbelievable,” adding that he admires the center, which is minority-owned and employs many women of color, for moving ahead with the
“It’s an important claim to bring,” Slossberg said. “You have to push back, and you have to say, ‘No, it’s not acceptable.’”
The suit was filed under federal civil rights law and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. Slossberg said that while CUTPA does not apply to discrimination by employers against employees, it applies in this case because the center is alleging discrimination in a business-to-business relationship.
“CUTPA is one of the most litigated statutes in the state of Connecticut. We have treatises four inches thick and there are very, very few unfair trade practices cases that involve this kind of discrimination,” Slossberg said.
David Dearborn, a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Social Services, addressed the lawsuit in a statement.
“We are still gathering the facts, and it’s too soon to comment on the particulars of this case,” he said. “Of course, the state does not condone and cannot tolerate illegal discrimination in hiring or employment.”
Advanced Behavioral Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday, and a representative for the other state agency named as a defendant, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said it does not comment on pending litigation.
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Kari Dooley of the District of Connecticut.