Connecticut Expanded Mandatory Sexual Harassment Training Goes into Effect Oct. 1

Connecticut’s expanded requirements for mandatory sexual harassment prevention training are now in effect.

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As of today (October 1, 2019), the number of employees and employers that are required to undergo mandatory sexual harassment prevention training has greatly expanded in Connecticut.

More employers will be required to provide mandatory sexual harassment training to all employees starting October 1, 2019. Under the new law, dubbed the “Time’s Up Act,” moves the threshold for employers that must provide sexual harassment training from companies with 50 employees or more to companies with three employees or more.

Also under the new law any employer with 3 or more employees must provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors. Employers with fewer than 3 employees will be required to provide the training but only to supervisory employees.

The law became effective on October 1, 2019. The bill was signed by Governor Ned Lamont on June 18, 2019.

Prompted by the rise of the #MeToo movement, the new Connecticut law also expands posting and training requirements, extends the statute of limitations for filing a discriminatory practice claim with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and expands the potential damages available to aggrieved employees.

New requirements for sexual harassment training

Beginning October 1, 2019, employers must provide 2 hours of sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors. New employees hired after October 1, 2019 must be trained within 6 months of hire. All current employees must be trained by October 1, 2020. Employees hired or promoted into supervisory positions on or after October 1, 2019, must receive the training within six months of hire or promotion.

Employers who have already provided 2 hours of sexual harassment training to their employees since October 1, 2018 are not required to repeat the training.

Periodic training is required under the new law, but employers only have to provide the supplemental training once every 10 years.

Failure to provide the training will be considered a “discriminatory practice” and a fine of up to $1,000 can be imposed.

The CHRO is responsible for developing and making available to employers a free, online training and education video or other interactive method that fulfills the bill’s training requirements.

Posting and notice requirements

Employers with 3 or more employees must post in a “prominent and accessible location” information about the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

Employers with 3 or more employees must also provide a copy of the information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment to each employee within 3 months of the employee’s start date via email.

The subject line of the email should be, “Sexual Harassment Policy,” or something similar, if the employer has provided the employee an email account or the employee has provided the employer with an email address.

If the employer has not provided all employees an email account, the employer must post the information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment on the employer’s website, if the employer has one.

Alternatively, employers can provide employees with the link to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities website page that describes the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment by email, text message or in writing.

Employers that fail to post or distribute the information will be subject to fines up to $1,000.

New requirement for employer response to sexual harassment complaints

The law imposes an additional requirement on how employers must respond to complaints of alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. If an employer responds to the complaint by relocating the employee, changing his/her schedule or making any other modification to the terms and conditions of the employee’s employment, the employee must consent to the change in writing.

Extended deadline for filing complaints

The statute of limitations for filing a complaint has been extended. Previously, individuals had 180 days following an alleged instance of sexual harassment to file a claim. Under the new law, an individual claiming discrimination and/or sexual harassment that occurred on or after October 1, 2019, now has 300 days following the alleged incident to file a claim.

Potential damages increased

Additionally, the amount of damages that can be awarded have expanded to include reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs and punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded in instances where the defendant’s conduct is extraordinarily offensive.

Regulators given right to inspect workplace

The new also gives CHRO the right to enter an employer’s business during normal business hours to ensure compliance with the posting requirements and examine the records, policies, procedures, postings, and sexual harassment training materials kept by the employer in connection with the legal requirements. The inspection, however, cannot “unduly disrupt” the employer’s business operations.

Other state and local sexual harassment training requirements

Six states — California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maine and New York and one city — New York City — all have sexual harassment training requirements on the books, as reported by HR Dive.

Neighboring state New York also strengthened its requirement for sexual harassment prevention training this year, expanding the definition of employer to include all employers in the Empire State as well as its political subdivisions and requiring employers to provide employees with their sexual harassment policies and sexual harassment training materials in English and the employee’s primary language at the time of hire and during each annual sexual harassment prevention training. Employers have until October 9, 2019 to meet the new requirements.

Illinois’ employers will see new sexual harassment prevention training requirements go into effect on January 1, 2020. Employers with 15 or more employees will have to use the sexual harassment training program developed by the Department of Human Rights unless they establish one that “equals or exceeds the minimum standards provided by the model.” Employers must provide this training at least once a year.

Before the passage of the law, only large employers were required to provide sexual harassment prevention training to their supervisors. Now, any employer with three or more employees is required to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors. Employers with fewer than three employees will be required to provide the training but only to supervisory employees.

The law became effective on October 1, 2019. The bill was signed by Governor Ned Lamont on June 18, 2019.

This article is intended only for informational purposes. It is not a substitute for legal consultation. While we attempt to keep the information covered timely and accurate, laws and regulations are subject to change.

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