Businesses with as few as three employees must now provide sexual harassment prevention training under a bill approved by the legislature's Judiciary Committee.
SB 3 broadly expands the state's harassment prevention training law, which currently requires companies with 50 or more employees to train supervisory employees within six months of hiring.
The bill that passed on a 26-14 vote April 10 requires the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to develop offer online video or other interactive training materials at no cost to business.
Employers would have to certify to the state that employees took the training or face CHRO enforcement action.
However, many lawmakers continued to voice concerns about the training mandate's impact on business.
"I'm concerned what this could mean for small businesses in our state, which are the majority of businesses in our state," said Rep. Richard Smith (R-New Fairfield).
Cost to Business
CBIA's Eric Gjede previously asked committee members to consider the cost to businesses before expanding training requirements.
"Businesses are under incredible pressure to provide safe workplaces for employees," he said.
"Every year, new limitations are placed on the tools we use to screen employees. Despite that, we are willing to do more when it comes to workplace sexual harassment prevention."
While businesses welcome the provision allowing them to access state-developed training resources, Gjede noted there are other significant problems with the bill.
For example, SB 3 prevents employers from changing the working conditions of any individual who complained of sexual harassment unless they agreed to such a change in writing.
Gjede said this provision creates an issue for employers who attempt to provide safety for a complainant during an investigation while providing the accused with due process.
Further, it creates issues, particularly for small employers, when the accused is the sole individual capable of performing their job duties, or if the complainant is accusing multiple individuals of harassment.
The bill also extends the time people have to file workplace discrimination complaints with CHRO from 180 days after an incident to 300 days.
It also increases the time victims have to file a court case after a complaint is released from CHRO from 90 days to two years.
Sen. Rob Sampson (R-Wolcott) questioned whether the CHRO's role, as described in the bill, goes beyond what it is legislatively tasked to do.
The bill is dubbed the Time's Up Act as it also eliminates the statute of limitations for rape, and extends the statute of limitations for forced sexual contact from five to 25 years, and for unwanted sexual contact from one to five years.