Joining the ranks of New York and California, Connecticut has adopted legislation that significantly expands Connecticut employers’ responsibilities with regard to mandatory anti-harassment training and posting requirements. Known as the “Time’s Up Act,” the legislation became effective October 1, 2019.
Under the Time’s Up Act, all employers (irrespective of size) must provide two hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors. Employers with three or more employees must provide the required training to all employees.
Training must be conducted by October 1, 2020, and supplemental training must be provided at least every ten years. Newly hired employees and supervisors must be trained within their first six months of employment. Employees who received training after October 1, 2018 that meets the requirements of the Time’s Up Act do not need to be retrained.
The Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (the “Commission”) has developed and made available, at no cost to employers, an interactive online training video, which is available here.
Employers with three or more employees must also satisfy new posting requirements. Within three months of an employee’s start date, covered employers must provide employees “a copy of the information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.” This obligation can be satisfied either by:
- (i) Email (if the employer provides its employees with an email account, or if the employer know the employee’s personal email account) with a subject line indicating that substance of the email relates to the employer’s sexual harassment policy; or
- (ii) Publishing the same information on the employer’s Internet website.
Covered employers may also satisfy this requirement by providing employees with this link (sent by email, text message, or in writing) to the Commission’s website: https://www.ct.gov/chro/lib/chro/CHRO_Sexual_Harassment_Written_Materials.pdf.
Employers may be subject to fines of up to $750 for non-compliance with the Time’s Up Act. In addition, within one year after a harassment complaint is filed against an employer with the Commission, a Commission representative may enter that employer’s place of business during normal business hours to inspect its records in order to determine whether that employer has complied with the Time’s Up Act’s posting and training requirements.
The Time’s Up Act expands existing Connecticut law in other significant ways as well, including by:
- (i) Extending the deadline for filing a discrimination complaint with the Commission, from 180 days to 300 days;
- (ii) Allowing for recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees by complainants who prevail on their discrimination claims before the Commission; and
- (iii) Allowing for recovery of punitive damages by plaintiffs who prevail on their discrimination claims in court.
Further, in the event that an employee makes a complaint of sexual harassment, the Time’s Up Act bars the employer from changing the terms and conditions of that employee’s employment (e.g., changing the employee’s schedule or work location) unless the employee agrees to such changes in writing.
Employers with employees in Connecticut should prepare now to comply with their new training, posting and other obligations under the Time’s Up Act.