Apr 13 2020
In October 2019, the State of Connecticut marked the effective date of its new Time’s Up Act – enacted in the summer of 2019 named for the national and global movement to oppose sexual harassment and assault. Looking back on the law almost a year later, what changes should we be seeing in the Connecticut workforce?
Signed into law in June 2019 by Governor Ned Lamont, the Time’s Up Act represented Connecticut’s statutory response to the #MeToo movement. The Act includes a number of key features.
One of the most significant is the mandate of sexual harassment training and education in the workplace.
The prior state provision only required sexual harassment training for supervisors in companies with 50 or more employees. The new law expands this obligation, requiring companies with three or more employees to provide training and education to all employees, not just the supervisors. These training sessions need to be a minimum of two hours.
While training for employees must be completed by October 2020, companies who have already met the standards do not need to offer a second round of training this year.
The law also requires employers to provide supplemental training to update all supervisory and non-supervisory employees on the content of training and education no less than every 10 years. Employers must also notify their entire company of the illegality of sexual harassment, and provide resources and remedies to sexual harassment victims.
Employers are able to comply with the training requirements any way they want, but they cannot complain that the training is cost-prohibitive, since the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has developed an online training course that it makes available at no cost.
If an employer fails to provide the proper training, the company can be fined up to $1,000. In addition, an employer’s failure to provide the requisite training and education is considered a “discriminatory practice,” and may result in legal liability.
Changes in sexual harassment litigation
Along with workplace training and education, the law also effectuates a number of significant changes in the procedures for sexual harassment claims. For one, the law extends the time in which to file a complaint of discrimination or harassment under Connecticut law with the CHRO – from 180 days to now 300 days. For another, the law allows employees who have been subjected to workplace discrimination in Connecticut to sue for punitive damages, as well as compensatory damages.
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If you have questions on the Time’s Up Act or are a victim of sexual harassment in your Connecticut workplace, call us. Garrison, Levin-Epstein, Fitzgerald & Pirrotti is here to fight for you.