Q: One of our employees has complained about sexual harassment, but does not want us to investigate unless it’s kept completely confidential. What should we do?

A: Once an employer becomes aware that there’s a potential problem with sexual harassment, as a general rule there is a duty to investigate. Tell the employee you will keep the investigation as confidential as possible, but don’t promise complete confidentiality. In the event a formal CHRO/EEOC complaint or lawsuit is filed, one of your best defenses would be that you investigated promptly when the employee first reported the problem and then took appropriate corrective action.

Q: We had all our supervisors go through sexual harassment prevention training. Now someone told us that we have to train our non-supervisory employees, too. Do we?

A: You’re not required by law to train non-supervisory employees, but many employers think that it’s a good idea to do so. Training employees on sexual harassment and your company’s sexual harassment policy lets employees know they should inform you about any harassment that occurs and give you a chance to remedy the problem, before they resort to a lawsuit. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court has said an employer may be able to defend itself against a sexual harassment lawsuit by showing that steps were taken to prevent harassment and that the complaining employee failed to use the employer’s complaint procedure. Training all employees helps you fulfill these conditions.

CBIA offers sexual harassment prevention training programs for supervisors and for employees. For more information email Mark Soycher or call the HR Hotline at 860.244.1900.

Q: We just hired a new supervisor who had sexual harassment prevention training at her previous job. Do we have to send her for this training anyway?

A: Yes. Under Connecticut law, employers with 50 or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to new supervisors within six months even if they have been trained previously. In addition, you will want to make sure that the new supervisor is familiar with your company policy concerning sexual harassment, including the complaint procedures.