Connecticut recently expanded its harassment prevention law addressing training, workplace postings, and available damages. Many of the new requirements go into effect on October 1, 2019.
Although Connecticut has long required some measure of harassment training by employers with 50 or more employees, the Time’s Up law requires all Connecticut employers to provide sexual harassment training to its employees, regardless of the number of employees. The length of the training and how often it must be provided will be based on the employer’s size.
For employers with three or more employees, two hours of training must be given to all employees. Current employees must receive the required training by October 1, 2020. All employees hired on or after October 1, 2019 must be trained within six months of their hire date.
Supervisors in Connecticut must also receive training specific to their role as supervisors. This training must also be provided by October 1, 2020, or within six months of an employee being hired into a supervisory role.
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) will create resources for employers to satisfy the Connecticut training requirements. The law requires that employers update the training every 10 years. Employers that fail to provide compliant training to their employees and will be subject to fines up to $750.
Connecticut employers are already required to post information about harassment prevention and remedies available to victims of harassment. The new law amends this requirement to include that employers provide, within three months after the employee is hired, a copy of the information about the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to employees subjected to harassment in the workplace. This includes providing information to report to the CHRO.
The new law also includes a provision that permits a CHRO representative to visit the company within 12 months of a complaint being filed with the Commission if the CHRO’s executive director “reasonably believes” that the employer is in violation of new posting or training requirements. The representative is permitted to examine company postings, records related to training, and dissemination of information.
In addition, within 12 months of a complaint being filed with the CHRO or where the CHRO’s executive director “reasonably believes” that the employer is in violation of the new posting and training requirements, the CHRO can now assign a designated representative of the CHRO to enter an employer’s place of business to ensure compliance with the posting requirements. This representative may also examine records, policies, procedures, postings, and sexual harassment training materials maintained by the employer in connection with the requirements of the statute.
The Time’s Up law also increases protections for employees who report sexual harassment. For example, the reporting employee must consent to any changes in their schedule, modification of terms and conditions of the employee’s employment, or to any relocation.
Effective October 1, 2019, the CHRO may award reasonable attorney’s fees to a complainant employee. The CHRO’s impact is further expanded as the CHRO is now authorized to bring a civil action in Connecticut Superior Court via Commission Counsel instead of proceeding to an administrative hearing. The new law also adds to the kinds of damages available if a complaint is filed in court. Previously, the Connecticut Supreme Court prohibited punitive damages awards to plaintiffs in harassment cases; however, the new law now permits punitive damages.