NEW REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS IN CONNECTICUT
A new law, effective October 1, 2019, imposes additional requirements on employers in Connecticut.
Previously, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (the “CHRO”) could require employers with at least 50 employees to provide supervisory employees with a certain amount of training and education on federal and state sexual harassment laws. The new law (P.A. 19-16) applies to employers of any size and, among other things, expands the training requirement to non-supervisory employees in companies that employ at least three people.
Employers must comply with the new training requirements no later than October 1, 2020. There is an exception for those employers having provided training after October 1, 2018, who will not be required to provide it again prior to 2020. However, all nonsupervisory and supervisory employees hired on or after October 1, 2019, by employers with at least three employees, and supervisory employees hired by smaller employers, must complete training within six months of their hire date. In addition, employers will be required to provide supplemental training at least every ten years. The CHRO is now required to create and provide to employers a free online training video that will fulfill the employer’s training obligations. Failure to comply with the new training requirements carries a monetary penalty of up to $1,000. Further, failure to comply is now considered a “discriminatory practice,” allowing aggrieved individuals the ability to file a complaint with the CHRO, which could ultimately result in additional punitive damages.
Posting requirements have also changed. The prior law required employers with three or more employees to post a notice describing the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims in a prominent place that is accessible to employees. Now, employers will also need to send a copy of the same information to employees by email within three months of their date of hire, if: 1) the employer has given the employee an email account; or 2) the employee has provided the employer with his or her email address. If an employer does not provide email accounts to its employees, the same information must be posted on the employer’s website, if one exists. The CHRO is also required to provide the same information on its website and employers can satisfy this requirement by providing employees with a link to that webpage via email, text message or in writing.
In addition to the above, the new law also expands the definition of “employee” for purposes of compliance with training and posting requirements to include those employed by a parent, spouse or child, and affords the CHRO the ability to enter an employer’s business, during normal business hours, to ensure compliance.
The bottom line is, if you are a business owner in Connecticut, you should familiarize yourself with the new laws, and if you need assistance with compliance you should contact an attorney familiar with employment laws so as to properly protect your business interests