Connecticut employers face significant new workplace sexual harassment prevention compliance requirements under legislation introduced this week.

HB 5043 expands current state law to now require all employees at businesses with 15 or more workers to undergo training while broadening the definition of workplace harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment preventionThe legislation, which was referred to the Labor and Public Employees Committee, supports one of a number of workplace mandates proposed by Governor Dannel Malloy in his Feb. 6 State of the State address before a joint session of the General Assembly.

Current state law mandates that a worker in a supervisory role at a business with 50 or more employees attend a training session on state and federal sexual harassment laws within six months of being hired or promoted.

Under HB 5043, all employees at businesses with 15 or more workers now would undergo training every five years.

That training would not be limited to sexual harassment prevention in the workplace, but would include all harassment—including that based on race, color, religious creed, age, sex, gender identity or expression, marital status, and national origin.

Financial, Administrative Impact

The bill also mandates training in bystander intervention and workplace civility.

In addition, businesses with three or more employees must post information about state and federal laws in a prominent place and share it with employees at least once a year.

Connecticut employers of all sizes take measures to provide a safe and harassment-free workplace for their employees.

Under HB 5043, all employees at businesses with 15 or more workers now would undergo training every five years.
While the cost of sexual harassment training can be expensive for businesses, they recognize the merit of incurring those costs to properly train supervisors and managers.

Broadening the mandate increases the financial and administrative impact for small and large  businesses, to say nothing about the costs to the state and municipalities.

CBIA is determining the potential cost implications of the expanded mandate, particularly for small businesses.

Ensuring Safe Workplaces

Connecticut workplaces should be free from harassment, which is why lawmakers must consider giving employers the tools to enforce their own workplace harassment and violence prevention policies.

Under current law, employers can suspend without pay an hourly employee who violates such a policy.

However, state law prohibits employers from suspending without pay a salaried worker who violates the same policy.

CBIA has attempted to change this unfair dynamic during the last few legislative sessions, but the effort stalls in the Labor and Public Employees Committee.

Lawmakers must recongize that employers are already faced with an incredible burden of ensuring a safe work environment for their employees.

While the concept of additional or modified training on harassment issues has merit, lawmakers should not ignore other tools for ensuring a safe workplace.

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