New Harassment Laws In Connecticut
Connecticut has sent a message loud and clear to employers around the state—“time’s up” for taking proactive steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.
This year, along with other states taking early moves to strengthen regulations related to sexual harassment training and prevention, Connecticut introduced Public Act No. 19-16—referred to as the “Times’s Up Act”— as an amendment to existing state law.
New Workplace Harassment Laws in CT Affect Employers With Three or More Employees
The new harassment law in CT is primarily focused on training for supervisors and others responsible for the oversight of employees. But now, the new workplace harassment laws in CT mandate that any employer with three or more employees must provide training to all employees, not just those in supervisory positions. Previously, the threshold for complying with sexual harassment regulations was 50 employees, demonstrating a significant call to action.
The new requirements went into effect in October 2019, requiring two hours of training to be delivered to all employees by October 1, 2020. Employers who have already been provided training in 2019 will not be required to provide it a second time to comply with the new regulations.
Impacts of Connecticut’s Harassment Training Requirements
Unlike other states, such as Illinois, the new harassment law in CT does not require annual training. Rather, “periodic supplemental training” to update staff and supervisors on pertinent changes “not less than every ten years.”
- An extension from 180 to 300 days for the filing of an adverse employment action. This applies to an employee who claims to have been the victim of sexual harassment via incidents alleged to have occurred on or after October 1, 2019.
- Employers must notify employees of their sexual harassment policies by email within three months of hire. Employers who don’t provide employees with their own email addresses must post the information on their website. Non-compliance will result in a $750 fine.
- When taking action in response to a harassment claim, employers must obtain written consent from the targeted employee.
- Greater damages available to the target employee at the CHRO Public Hearing stage and the ability of courts to award punitive damages.
- CHROs are now allowed to enter an employer’s office during business hours to ensure compliance and review policies, procedures, and training materials.
The move to create new harassment laws in Connecticut and to expand the reach of the sexual harassment definition and prevention requirements should serve as a needed alert to employers around the country. Despite years of efforts to eradicate the issue as well as increased scrutiny due to the #MeToo movement, sexual harassment is still occurring in workplace settings.
Whether or not your organization is being impacted by these mandated laws to prevent harassment in the workplace, now is a good time to consider your own efforts and the changes you can make to achieve better results in creating a positive culture in 2020—and beyond.