Veeder-Root Co. v. Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities

Decision Date18 July 1973
Docket NumberVEEDER-ROOT
Citation334 A.2d 443,165 Conn. 318
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
Parties, 6 Fair Empl.Prac.Cas. (BNA) 186, 6 Empl. Prac. Dec. P 8958 COMPANY, a Division of Veeder Industries, Inc. v. COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND OPPORTUNITIES.

Bernard F. McGovern, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom were Philip A. Murphy, Jr., Hartford, and, on the brief, Robert K. Killian, Atty. Gen., and F. Michael Ahern, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the appellant (defendant).

James A. Wade, Hartford, for appellee (plaintiff).


MacDONALD, Associate Justice.

This is an appeal from a judgment rendered by Hon. Howard W. Alcorn, a state referee, exercising the powers of the Superior Court, which judgment modified an order of a hearing tribunal designated by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, hereinafter called the commission. The relevant procedural background is set out in detail in the memorandum of decision filed by the referee acting as a court, and may be briefly summarized.

On February 26, 1969, Hilda G. Moe filed with the commission a complaint against her employer, the plaintiff, the Veeder-Root Company, pursuant to the provisions of § 31-127 of the General Statutes, as amended. Because of the importance of its procedural details and the difficulty of deleting any substantial portions thereof as irrelevant, the entire statute as it appears in the 1969 Supplement to the General Statutes is set forth in the footnote. 1 For similar reasons, the complaint itself is set forth in full below 2 and, as may be observed, concluded with the assertion by Mrs. Moe that 'I feel I am being discriminated against because of my sex (female).'

On December 19, 1969, following an investigator's report that there was a reasonable ground for complaint in accordance with the investigatory procedure prescribed by § 31-127, the defendant notified the plaintiff to appear for a hearing on the complaint on January 20, 1970. On December 30, 1969, the plaintiff filed an answer denying 'any violation of Section 31-126, subsection (a), of Chapter 563 of the General Statutes of Connecticut as amended with respect to Complainant Hilda G. Moe.' At intervals between January 20, 1970, and December 1, 1970, also in accordance with the procedural requirements of § 31-127, hearings were held before a hearing tribunal of three members appointed by the chairman of the commission. On May 18, 1971, the hearing tribunal filed its decision and order which directed the plaintiff (1) to cease and desist from maintaining the discriminatory job and classification system in effect in its department 99, remove all of the consequences of its discriminatory acts including but not limited to abolishing any distinction between the classification of assembler A and assembler B, or any successor classification, and abolishing the job description system, the color coding system or any other system that classifies assemblers on the basis of sex in department 99; (2) to cease and desist from discriminatorily applying any discriminatory job and classification to the complainant Hilda Moe; (3) to cease and desist from paying Hilda Moe as an A assembler less than the B assembler rate as long as the work is substantially the same and notwithstanding any new job classification under a new collective bargaining contract; and (4) to pay Hilda Moe the difference between the A assembler and the B assembler pay rate from October 1, 1967, to and including the date of payment.

On May 28, 1971, the plaintiff appealed to the Superior Court from the hearing tribunal's order challenging, inter alia, the scope of the tribunal's order, and on July 29, 1971, the defendant filed an answer and a counterclaim requesting an order of the Superior Court to enforce the order of the tribunal. On August 31, 1971, the defendant certified the record of the hearings to the court, and on October 5, 1971, the issues on the appeal were closed by the filing of the plaintiff's reply to the defendant's counterclaim. The reply, in essence, again challenged the scope of the tribunal's order. By stipulation of the parties the matter was referred to the Hon. Howard W. Alcorn, a state referee, and, as required by § 31-128, the issues were heard by him acting as a court on the record certified by the defendant. Various issues were presented to and decided by the referee acting as a court, only a few of which had been assigned as error to this court. On April 17, 1972, the court filed a lengthy memorandum of decision and judgment was rendered modifying the order of the tribunal to read as follows: 'Veeder-Root Company, a division of Veeder Industries, Inc. is ordered: (1) to cease and desist from discriminating against Hilda Moe in compensation because of her sex; (2) to pay Hilda Moe a sum which, in toto, shall be the difference between the hourly wage which she has received as an Assembler A or equivalent classification in Department 99 and the hourly wage allotted to employees classified as Assembler B or equivalent classification in Department 99 from January 22, 1969 to the date of payment; (3) thereafter, and so long as Hilda Moe performs the duties which she was performing on January 22, 1969, to classify and pay her as an Assembler B or equivalent classification in Department 99.' Thereafter, the commission appealed to this court from the judgment rendered in accordance with the order of modification.

In this appeal the commission claims that the state referee erred (1) in setting aside in its entirety paragraph 1 of the order of the hearing tribunal, or alternatively, in failing to modify the order to cure any formal defects or to remand the matter to the hearing tribunal for this purpose; (2) in limiting paragraph 4 of the order to payment to the complainant Hilda Moe of the higher wage rate from January 22, 1969, to the date of payment instead of from October 1, 1967, the effective date of the inclusion of sex discrimination in § 31-126 of the General Statutes, as amended, to the date of payment; and (3) in denying in part the relief sought by the defendant in its counterclaim.

We deal first with the claim that court erred in setting aside paragraph 1 of the order of the tribunal, but for a proper understanding of this issue at the outset we set out the undisputed facts regarding Hilda Moe's employment as presented by the court from the record:

'The Veeder-Root Company, an operating division of Veeder Industries, Inc. manufactures at its Hartford factory some 4000 types of counters. In 1959 it reactivated what is known as Department 99 to provide sample orders of particular counters with service on them to customers and service to other departments of the factory. More recently the work has been expanded to the manufacture of assembly orders for nonproduction counters and parts. There are three job classifications in the department in ascending order, namely Assembler A, B, and A prime. The present case is concerned only with classifications A and B. The job description of Assembler A requires a good knowledge of counter mechanisms, the complete assembly of a specific line or type of counters from parts and assemblies, the operator must obtain a blueprint to check component part numbers and specifications, and he must use a variety of hand tools such as mallets, hammers, punches, picks, tweezers, pliers, etc. The job description for Assembler B requires a general knowledge of counters, the complete assembly of a variety of standard counters, the operator must be able to read blueprints as a whole, he must use a wide variety of hand tools including hand reamers, hand facing tools and files in addition to those used by Assembler A and must operate a drill press, bench grinder, riveting or stamping machine and foot press, and he must be able to select and try parts, fit, adjust and align to proper functions, reset, and figure alignment and function.

'Fourteen women are employed in the Assembler A classification. Seven men are employed in the Assembler B classification. Assemblers A and B work side by side and occasionally assist the another. Assemblers B generally assemble various types of counters while Hilda Moe works on a single type. In November 1969 Assembler A pay was raised from $2.215 to $2.565 per hour and Assembler B pay was raised from $2.215 to $2.699 to $2.899 per hour. The larger pay rates have remained constant since.

'Hilda Moe has been employed by the plaintiff continuously since January 4, 1949. Since October 30, 1959 she has been an Assembler A in Department 99. Hilda Moe's job is to assemble what is known as a visi-counter using the tools described in the Assembler A job classification.

'Prior to the hearing in this case no female had ever been classified as an Assembler B and no male had ever been classified as an Assembler A. Since Department 99 was reconstituted in 1959 the Assembler A and B jobs have been designated as female and male jobs respectively. Hilda Moe and other females classified as Assembler A have exhibited the capability to do work commonly assigned to and done by males classified as Assembler B. Males have been transferred from other jobs in the factory to Assembler B jobs in Department 99 when females with greater seniority and/or assembly experience were not advised of, or advanced to, the opening.'

It was the conclusion of the hearing tribunal, based essentially on the facts recited above, that there was no substantial difference between the two job classifications, that the pay differential between them was based on sex and that, as a consequence, there was a violation of § 31-126(a). This conclusion is not disputed. What is the subject of dispute, however, is the form of the order. In ordering the plaintiff to 'cease and desist from maintaining the discriminatory job and classification system in...

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  • Williams v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • August 7, 2001 us at this point in our jurisprudence with a well established judicial gloss. See, e.g., Veeder-Root Co. v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, 165 Conn. 318, 334 A.2d 443 (1973); State v. Commission on Human Rights & Opportunities, 211 Conn. 464, 559 A.2d 1120 (1989). These case......
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