Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of New Haven, New Haven
Frank A. Proto, Jr.
Northeast Imported Parts and Accessories, Inc
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION
Salvatore C. Agati, J.
matter was tried before the Honorable William L. Hadden, Jr.
on the dates of October 8, 14 and 15, 2014. Before Judge
Hadden could render a decision, he became incapacitated and
unable to issue his final decision. The matter was set down
to be retried on February 2, 2016. The parties, by way of
stipulation (see #139), agreed to have the court read the
transcript of the trial and post-trial memoranda and render a
decision on this case. The court having reviewed the trial
transcripts and post-trial memoranda renders this decision.
plaintiff, Frank Proto (Proto), commenced this action by way
of a two-count complaint against his former employer,
Northeast Imported Parts and Accessories, Inc. (Northeast),
claiming in the First Count that the defendant retaliated
against him in terminating his employment pursuant to General
Statutes § 46a-60(a)(4) and claiming in the
Second Count wrongful discharge pursuant to General Statutes
plaintiff (Proto) was hired by the defendant (Northeast) on
or about January 4, 2011 as a full-time warehouse person at
the defendant's facility in Wallingford, Connecticut.
supervisor of the facility was Deborah Rettenmayer who
reported directly to the corporate office in California. The
Wallingford facility employed four people when plaintiff
started working there.
the other warehouse persons working at the facility was Tory
Jacques who performed the same work as the plaintiff. This
work was essentially loading and unloading boxes and other
containers, as well as packing and shipping items.
Jacques, in late January of 2011, broke his leg while at
home. This required Mr. Jacques to stay out of work until
March 30, 2011. He was released by his doctor to return to
work full time without any limitations.
Mr. Jacques returned to work he had a significant limp. He
was questioned by Ms. Rettenmayer about his ability to keep
up with the work at the warehouse. Ms. Rettenmayer expressed
a concern that although Jacques was released to work full
duty, he still had limitations which affected his ability to
perform the duties required. After about a week, Ms.
Rettenmayer terminated Mr. Jacques on April 6, 2011 because
she felt he could not safely perform the job and adequately
keep up with the work.
April 5, 2011, the plaintiff provided Ms. Rettenmayer with a
written statement regarding his observations of Mr.
Jacques' limitations in performing his work duties. There
is disputed testimony about whether the statement was
requested by Ms. Rettenmayer or provided voluntarily by the
plaintiff. The fact remains it was prepared and provided to
Ms. Rettenmayer the day before Mr. Jacques' termination.
April 20, 2011, Mr. Jacques filed a complaint with the State
of Connecticut, Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities
(CHRO) alleging that the defendant had discriminated against
him based on his physical disability brought about by his
broken leg causing him to be terminated.
complaint was received by the defendant on April 28, 2011.
Ms. Rettenmayer showed the complaint to the plaintiff. She
requested that he provide her with a second written statement
that elaborated on Mr. Jacques' issues with job
performance. This was provided by the plaintiff on April 29,
2011. The plaintiff claims when he reviewed the complaint
filed by Jacques with CHRO, he pointed out to Ms. Rettenmayer
that paragraph 14 of the responses to the complaint that
needed to be completed by the employer asked about any
reasonable accommodations provided by the employer to an
employee with a physical disability claim. Plaintiff claims
that Ms. Rettenmayer became upset by plaintiff's inquiry
and began to treat him differently as a result of his raising
Rettenmayer advised the plaintiff that the defendant did not
have to provide reasonable accommodations to Mr. Jacques
because he was released to full duty work. The plaintiff
claims from that point on he felt there was a hostile work
plaintiff claims three to four weeks after April 28, 2011,
Ms. Rettenmayer requested he provide a third statement about
Mr. Jacques which corporate in California was seeking from
him. Plaintiff indicated that he refused to comply with the
request because he did not want to be involved with the
dispute between the defendant and Jacques and did not want to
change his statement to be more favorable for the defendant
regarding Jacques' claim. Plaintiff claims that as a
result of his refusing to participate in this discriminatory
conduct by the defendant as to Mr. Jacques' claim he was
retaliated against by the defendant by terminating his
employment on May 27, 2011.
defendant provided evidence of several events that took place
in May of 2011 that ...