The Connecticut Supreme Court is expected to hear a case Friday alleging discrimination against a Vietnamese officer who was fired from his job at the Hartford Police Department, documents show.
The Hartford-based state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity appealed to the state’s highest court following an appellate court’s decision to overturn a court ruling that found there was sufficient evidence of discrimination in against Khoa Phan, a former probationary police officer who is of Vietnamese ancestry and was fired from the department, according to court documents.
Records show that Phan began working for the department on December 14, 2010 and received satisfactory performance reviews early on. Those reviews turned negative, the commission argues in court documents, after Phan allegedly had discriminatory interactions with a Hartford sergeant, the documents show.
Phan filed an affidavit of unlawful discriminatory practices with the commission following the termination of his employment as a probationary police officer. He said the sergeant allegedly made derogatory comments about his ancestry, questioning whether he spoke competent English when he immigrated to the United States and whether members of the Hartford community could understand him when he spoke, the documents show.
The commission alleges that the sergeant openly displayed a discriminatory and hostile attitude towards Phan and his ancestors, according to the documents.
He allegedly asked Phan if the citizens of Hartford had a hard time understanding him and allegedly said “that the most serious criminals must laugh at Phan when Phan tells them what to do,” the court documents show.
After holding a hearing to review Phan’s filing, the commission found that the City of Hartford had discriminated against Phan and took the case to New Britain Superior Court, where the trial court ultimately agreed with the findings of the commission. The city then appealed to the Court of Appeals, arguing that the trial court’s findings were improper because there was no substantial evidence to support intentional discrimination, the documents show.
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The city argued that the sergeants’ remarks had no impact on Phan’s employment because that particular sergeant was not involved in his firing, records show.
The city also argued that Phan was fired following acts of alleged dishonesty and unprofessional behavior that were unrelated to his interactions with the sergeant in question, the documents show.
The appeals court found that there was insufficient substantive evidence to support a connection between the sergeant’s remarks and the decision to terminate Phan’s employment, court documents show, and reversed the ruling. court.
Now, the commission is questioning whether the appellate court’s quashing based on lack of evidence was correct, a matter now facing the Supreme Court.
The sixth term of the Supreme Court of the 2022-23 judicial year began Wednesday and is expected to run through Feb. 23, according to court officials.