In June 2019, Connecticut (similar to NY mentioned in our previous blog post) introduced new employment legislation. Coined the “Time’s Up Act” this Act is aimed at combatting sexual assault and harassment and it has created significant changes to Connecticut’s employment laws. The Act attempts to create additional safeguards that will enable employers to better prevent sexual assault and harassment in the workplace.
The “Time’s Up Act” expands the sexual harassment training requirements for employers in Connecticut. Under this new Act, every employer in Connecticut will be required to provide sexual harassment training for supervisors and other management officials, regardless of the size of the business. This is a significant departure from previous legislation, which only required such training for employers with 50 or more employees. Furthermore, the Act makes it mandatory for all employers with 3 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to these employees. The Act requires this training to be provided at least every 10 years.
In addition to requiring more expansive training, the Act also expands notice and posting requirements already in the place. Under this new Act, an employer is now required to send documents relating to harassment to every employee within 3-months of her/his hiring. Employers may comply with this new requirement by posting such information on their website(s) and proving their employees with a link to the Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) website that describes harassment and ways to report it. If an employer fails to comply with this requirement it will be subject to a fine of up to $1,000.
Finally, the Act extends current state law to offer greater rights and remedies to employees claiming sexual harassment and other types of employment discrimination. Under this new Act, if an employee complains of sexual harassment, an employer is forbidden from taking retaliatory actions against the employee, including making changes to the employee’s terms and conditions of employment (e.g., changing his/her schedule) – changes can be made only if the employee gives his/her consent. Additionally, the Act extends the statute of limitations for victims to file a complaint from 180 days to 300 days. It also increases the amount of damages a plaintiff can receive in that the law now allows victims to by awarded attorneys’ fees and punitive damages – both of which were previously not allowed under state law.
So how can a Connecticut resident/worker/ employer prepare for these new changes? Employers should consider reevaluating their training programs, update postings and notices, create notices that can be distributed to employees, and ensure there is an adequate reporting process in place so that victims of sexual discrimination and other discrimination can voice their concerns or report abuse. As always, both employees and employers should keep abreast of all new legislation – things are changing a ton!