Connecticut Has Passed New Sexual Harassment Prevention Laws
In the past few years, knowledge and awareness about sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace has been on the rise. This has led to the conception and growth of social movements such as #MeToo and Time’s Up, which focus on the social inequities, hardships, and harassment that many women suffer from in the workplace. We have also been bombarded with many high profile sexual harassment cases in the media, often leading leaving careers and reputations in ruin. Governments are finally taking action. In response to the growing social pressure, many states are passing new laws that take a much more aggressive stance against sexual harassment. Connecticut is one of those forward thinking states that have signed into effect new anti-sexual harassment laws. The bill was passed unanimously by the Connecticut Senate.
What is the Time’s Up Act?
Together, Public Acts 19-16 and 19-93, which are aimed at curbing sexual harassment in the workplace, constitute the Time’s Up Act. These Acts, effective October 1, 2019 establish new regulations and requirements regarding workplace sexual harassment training and education. Book a sexual Harassment trainer now.
The law will also extend the time employees have to file sexual harassment complaints to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, enhance the power of the CHRO, extend the time frame for criminal prosecution of sexual assault crimes, extend the time frame to file sexual abuse lawsuits, and include additional sexual harassment notice and posting requirements in the workplace.
Who is required to provide sexual harassment training?
All employers in Connecticut with 3 or more employers are now required to provide anti-sexual harassment training to all employees, not just supervisors. Existing employees must complete the training by October 1, 2020 and new employees must be trained within the first 6 months of their hire date. Furthermore, employers must provide supplemental training at least once every 10 years. Employers with 3 or less employees are required to provide sexual harassment training to supervisors.
What is required under the new sexual harassment training laws?
The new laws mandate that the training must be at least 2 hours long. The training and education shall include information relating to the federal and state statutory provisions regarding sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.
Under the Time’s Up Act, fines may be levied against companies who fail to meet compliance requirements by the set deadlines.
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Other Sexual Harassment Prevention Measures Under the Time’s Up Act
Expanded Posting Requirements
Employers will need to post documents regarding sexual harassment as well a provide a copy of this information to all employees via email, a posting on their website, or link to the CHRO’s homepage. The posting requirement must include the “illegality of sexual harassment” as well as remedies available to victims. Plus, the law authorizes the CHRO to inspect an employer’s place of business to ensure the compliance with both posting and training.
Expanded employee protections are also spelled out in the new laws. These include:
- Prohibition of retaliatory action against employees filing a sexual harassment claim
- Extension of the time allowed for an employee to file a claim from 180 days to 300 days
- Allowing courts to impose punitive damages in discrimination cases
- Provisions for victims to reclaim legal fees associated with sexual harassment claims
Extension of the statute of limitations to prosecute on criminal and civil sexual abuse charges. The statute of limitations to prosecute on criminal sexual abuse charges will be extended from 5 years to 20 years. This is an important ruling at this time for one very large reason… People are opening up about sexual harassment and abuse. Many victims of sexual abuse never report it, or by the time they do, it is too late for anything to be done. But with movements like Time’s Up and #MeToo all over the media, many victims are finding the courage to out their abusers.
Senator Mae Flexer of Connecticut said of the bill:
“This is a really important piece of legislation at a time when more and more victims are mustering a courage I can’t fully comprehend in coming forward and telling their stories.”
The new laws will also extend the statute of limitations for filling sexual abuse lawsuits. A minor who was a victim of sexual abuse will now be able to file a lawsuit up to their 51st birthday.
“The crime of sexual assault is a incredibly difficult crime to endure,” Flexer said. “There are many reasons victims often don’t initially recognize what exactly has happened to them … there are a lot of reasons victims blame themselves. … This change recognizes that.“
Hopefully, with mandated sexual harassment training, social awareness, stronger ability to prosecute and harsher repercussions, we can fight the epidemic that is sexual harassment and abuse.
Ways to Identify Workplace Sexual Harassment:
Most victims of workplace sexual harassment provocations are unaware of their rights. However, it is crucial that the victims identify harassing behavior and report their situation to HR & management immediately. This quick response will help create the Zero Tolerance workplace environment which we all strive for.
Various forms of Workplace sexual harassment:
- Unwanted physical contact
- Bullying or forms of discrimination /gender
- Social media exposure of a sexual nature
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal sexually taunting situations
- Display of sexually explicit or suggestive materials
- Unwanted off color jokes