COUNCIL 4, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE, COUNTY & MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO v. CONNECTICUT STATE ETHICS COMMISSION et al., SC 18896

Judicial District of New Britain

 

Employment; Whether State Ethics Code Prohibits Workers' Compensation Hearing Reporters From Preparing Transcripts for Private Sale While on State Time; Whether Court Improperly Failed to Treat Superior Court Reporters and Workers' Compensation Hearing Reporters Equally. The citizen's ethics advisory board (board), a unit of the office of state ethics, issued an advisory opinion concluding that workers' compensation hearing reporters (hearing reporters) are not permitted under General Statutes 1-84 (c) to prepare transcripts for private sale during the hours that they work for the state. Section 1-84 (c) prohibits state employees from using their positions for personal financial gain. The plaintiff union appealed to the trial court on behalf of the hearing reporters. It argued that the board improperly failed to treat Superior Court reporters (court reporters), whom the board determined are allowed to prepare transcripts for private sale on state time, and hearing reporters equally. It also noted that the union and the workers' compensation commission (commission) entered into a 1997 stipulated agreement allowing hearing reporters to use five hours per week of state time to prepare transcripts for private sale, and it argued that the agreement should govern over the provisions of 1-84 (c). In dismissing the union's appeal, the trial court first determined that there was substantial evidence in the record to support the board's conclusion that there was a distinction between court reporters and hearing reporters that warranted their differing treatment. It found that court reporters and hearing reporters are subject to separate provisions in the law. In particular, it stated that the provision that applies to court reporters, General Statutes 51-63 (c), allows the chief court administrator to adopt policies and procedures relative to compensation for the production of transcripts, whereas the provision that applies to hearing reporters, 51-63 (e), does not allow the commission to adopt similar policies and procedures. It thus found that 51-63 (c) creates an exemption to the general rule of 1-84 (c) that 51-63 (e) does not. Finally, the court determined that the stipulated agreement between the union and the commission was null and void because it required a public agency to act contrary to state law. The Supreme Court will determine whether the trial court properly dismissed the union's appeal.