The state Senate has approved an amended bill that significantly expands Connecticut's workplace harassment prevention training requirements.

SB 132 passed the Senate on a 31-5 vote in the early hours of May 4.

The measure now requires that businesses with 20 or more employees provide training to all staff every 10 years. Businesses with less than 20 employees will be required to provide all supervisory employees with harassment prevention training.

That provision strikes a better balance than originally proposed.

When it cleared the Judiciary Committee last month, the bill mandated that businesses with three or more employees train all workers.

Current state law requires that companies with 50 or more employees provide training for supervisors within six months of hire or promotion.

Affirmative Defense Restored

The Senate also deleted a troubling component from the bill that eliminated certain protections for companies that strive to create a safe, harassment-free work environment.

While current state law provides affirmative defenses for companies that have a policy in place, investigate claims, take corrective action, and prevent retaliation, SB 132 originally eliminated that defense in many cases.

That provision would have unfairly held companies that follow the law strictly liable.

The amended bill also requires the state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities to develop online training and video courses or "other interactive method of training," which may address some of the cost concerns raised by the business community.

The bill now requires that businesses with 20 or more employees provide training to all staff every 10 years.
With per employee training costs ranging from $100-$150, total private sector compliance costs could have exceeded $130 million under the original bill.

Employers could face a fine of up to $1,000 for failing to comply with the training requirements.

SB 132 also requires businesses to share their workplace harassment policies with CHRO.

The bill, which has an effective date of October 1, 2018, now goes to the state House.

A similar bill, HB 5043, also awaits action in the House. That measure requires businesses with 15 or more employees to provide sexual harassment training to every employee at least once every five years.

For more information, contact CBIA's Eric Gjede (860.480.1784) | @egjede