All of the judges in the District of Connecticut are now using Initial Discovery Protocols in most non-class action employment cases. In applicable cases, the Initial Discovery Protocols supersede parties’ initial disclosure obligations under Rule 26(a)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Both the plaintiff and the defendant must respond to the Initial Discovery Protocols within 30 days after the defendant has submitted a responsive pleading or motion, unless the court rules otherwise.

The protocols require both the plaintiff and the defendant to produce considerably more information and documents than Rule 26(a)(1) requires. Specifically, a defendant must produce 14 categories of documents, including the plaintiff’s personnel file, documents relied upon to make the employment decision at issue in the lawsuit, and communications concerning the factual allegations and claims at issue in the lawsuit. The defendant must also identify the plaintiff’s supervisor and/or manager, the people who were involved in making the decision to take the adverse action at issue, and people who have knowledge of the facts at issue.

The initial discovery protocols apply in all employment cases that challenge one or more actions alleged to be adverse except class actions and cases in which the allegations involve only the following: discrimination in hiring; harassment/hostile work environment; violations of wage and hour laws under the Fair Labor Standards Act; failure to provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act; violations of the Family Medical Leave Act; and violations of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Since defendants must respond to the Initial Discovery Protocols within 30 days after a responsive pleading, it is important for employers to work with counsel to gather the necessary information and documents as soon as they receive notice of a lawsuit. Complying with these initial protocols may be challenging because it is a significant undertaking in the early stages of litigation.