Sandra Bledsoe

Connecticut Sexual Harassment Training

Since 1992, businesses in Connecticut with 50 or more employees have been required to provide supervisors with only two hours of sexual harassment prevention training. Effective Jan. 1, 2021, companies in Connecticut with just three or more employees must issue sexual harassment prevention training to all current employees, while those with fewer than three employees are required to train only supervisors. These amended requirements were outlined in a pair of bills enacted in 2019.

Businesses Required to Provide Training 

Image via Flickr by jjbers

The state of Connecticut now has a statute that specifies that any public and private employer with three or more employees must provide sexual harassment awareness training to all managers, supervisors, partners, and other employees within six months of onboarding. While it isn’t mandated, it’s recommended that employers who have employees working outside the state of Connecticut include those employees when determining whether or not training is required (i.e. include them toward the three-employee minimum).

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Which Employees Must Receive Training

New laws in Connecticut require that all employees, managers, supervisors, and partners receive sexual harassment awareness training within the first six months of their employment. As stated, this applies to companies with three or more employees. Managerial or supervisory employees must receive training and education at smaller companies. As of Feb. 2021, current employees must have received a minimum of two hours of sexual harassment awareness training. Employees who received training after October of 2018 are excluded from this requirement, provided the training they received meets all of Connecticut’s sexual harassment training legal requirements. 

Retraining Requirements

Periodic supplemental sexual harassment training must be provided to update current employees on the subject matter at least every 10 years. However, although not mandated, Connecticut regulations strongly recommend employers provide supplemental training no less than every three years.

Training Requirements

Connecticut sexual harassment training must include information in accordance with state and federal statutes regarding sexual harassment and all remedies available to sexual harassment victims. These provisions require the sexual harassment training need to include:

  • The legal definition of sexual harassment as outlined explicitly by Connecticut law
  • Discussion of ways to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace
  • Descriptions of all types of behavior that qualify as sexual harassment under Connecticut law
  • Reminder that both harasser and victim can be either male or female, and that it’s possible for harassment to take place between people of the same or opposite sex
  • Description of the employer’s policy against sexual harassment 
  • Description of the employer’s protocol for reporting sexual harassment
  • Descriptions of any types of disciplinary actions that may be taken against employees who engage in harassing behavior
  • Description of the company’s internal complaint process
  • Discussion of remedies available to employees who have been victims of sexual harassment (i.e., compensation, back pay, promotion, etc.)
  • Description of the legal complaint process through the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO)
  • Instructions for how to contact the Commission
  • A statement that all individuals who victimize others may be subject to civil or criminal sanctions
  • Descriptions of all state and federal statutes disallowing sexual harassment in the workplace

Additionally, all sexual harassment awareness training, whether in person or online, must be at least two hours in length, and interactive. “Interactive,” as it pertains to Connecticut sexual harassment training, is described as training using a structure that provides participants the opportunity to ask questions and have those questions answered in a timely manner. 

Qualified Trainers

The statute in Connecticut doesn’t specify what constitutes a qualified sexual harassment awareness trainer, nor does it outline what makes one qualified to develop sexual harassment training courses. Most best practices recommend employers commission the services of a trainer who possesses one of the following attributes: 

  • Attorneys whose practice includes employment law and has at least two years of experience
  • College or law school instructors or professors with experience teaching employment law
  • A harassment prevention consultant or human resources professional with experience in harassment prevention training, sexual harassment complaint investigation, and advising employers on all issues surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace

Documentation

While Connecticut’s statute doesn’t outline specific regulations that require employers to retain or maintain records pertaining to sexual harassment awareness training, the CHRO strongly recommends that employers retain records for a minimum of one year. These records should be maintained by the human resources department and in each employee’s personnel file, and should include the following information:

  • Name of employee who received training
  • Date and location of training
  • Type of training received
  • Name of company and facilitator who conducted the training

Additionally, it’s recommended that employers have each employee sign the company sexual harassment policy, confirming they received training and understand what was presented to them, and to keep records for the duration of employment for each employee.

Posting and Email Requirements

Employers are required to post information regarding the criminality of sexual harassment, along with accessible solutions for victims of sexual harassment, in a conspicuous location in the workplace. 

Employers must additionally provide a copy of the same information regarding the illegalities and solutions available to each employee via the employee’s email, the subject of which should be something along the lines of “Sexual Harassment Policy.” This emailed copy must be provided to each employee no later than three months after their start date. If any employee doesn’t have a personal email account and one isn’t provided by the employer, the employer is required to post all applicable sexual harassment information on the company website if one exists. 

An acceptable alternative to an emailed copy is an employer providing employees with an emailed, texted, or handwritten link to the CHRO webpage, which describes sexual harassment illegalities and solutions available to victims of sexual harassment.

Penalties for Noncompliance

Employers who violate Connecticut’s sexual harassment statute may be subject to a fine of up to $750 and an order of compliance issued by the CHRO. Additionally, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is available to employees, the utilization of which may result in civil and criminal penalties, monetary compensation, or convictions. 

Complaints

The Time’s Up Act extended the statute of limitations for filing a sexual harassment or discrimination claim with the CHRO to 300 days in efforts to be consistent with existing federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission standards. Additionally, employees who triumph in court are now able to recover attorney costs, fees, and punitive damages. 

Also in accordance with the Act, an employer isn’t allowed to alter employment conditions (i.e., workstation relocation, shift or schedule changes, etc.) of employees with harassment complaints in the absence of written consent of that employee. Exceptions are made if the employer can demonstrate that the adjustments were reasonable and of no detriment to the employee.

Responsible employers recognize that regular anti-harassment training is a fundamental way to ensure employees and everyone in the workplace is safe and protected from harassment. Whether it’s legally required or not, sexual harassment awareness training serves to educate, comply with laws, and minimize risk.


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