Workplace Harassment Prevention Landscape Faces Major Changes
Since 1992, Connecticut businesses with 50 or more employees have been required to provide supervisors with two hours of sexual harassment prevention training.
Employers with three or more employees will take on new obligations to provide this harassment prevention training to all employees.
Below are highlights and timing for this revised landscape, focusing on aspects of primary concern for HR professionals.
For companies with three or more employees:
- Any employee (supervisors and non-supervisors) hired after Oct. 1, 2019, must receive harassment prevention training within six months of hiring date.
- All employees (supervisors and non-supervisors) hired before Oct. 1, 2019, must receive harassment prevention training by Oct. 1, 2020.
- Training provided since Oct. 1, 2018 shall be credited towards the above training obligations.
- Besides the posted notice currently required that references the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, all employees within three months of hire date must receive via email, text, or hard copy, information regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of harassment.
For companies with less than three employees:
- Current supervisors must receive harassment prevention training by Oct. 1, 2020.
- Supervisors hired after Oct. 1, 2019 must be trained within six months of hiring date.
While the prior law suggested but did not require refresher training sessions every three years, the new statutes mandate updated training sessions at least every 10 years.
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities is charged with developing and making online training materials available at no cost to employers that fulfill the requirements of this new mandate.
Fines for failure to post required notices will increase from $250 to $750.
Failure to provide required training has been added to the existing list of discriminatory practices.
That means the lack of training may be added to other accusations of discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc.
An employer may not modify conditions of employment of an employee who complains of harassment without the employee’s written agreement, unless the employer can present evidence that the changes were reasonable and not of detriment to the complaining employee.
Corrective actions include, but are not limited to, workstation relocation, shift/schedule changes, etc.
The deadline, or statute of limitations for filing a CHRO discrimination or harassment complaint, will be extended from the current 180 days to 300 days, making it consistent with existing federal Equal Eemployment Opportunity Commission standards.
The CHRO may conduct a workplace inspection for required postings, notices and training if there is a reasonable belief the employer is in violation, or where a complaint has been filed within the last 12 months.
It should be noted that other provisions in the legislation, of primary interest to attorneys, affect administrative and court proceedings, and are beyond the scope of this story.
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