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New Connecticut law supports employees facing sexual harassment

This past summer, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law the Time’s Up Act. This law offers more protections to victims of workplace sexual harassment. It also enforces stricter training standards and tougher penalties for noncompliant employers.

Most of the new law’s stipulations went into effect on October 1 of this year. Here is an overview of what constitutes workplace sexual harassment – and a breakdown of the changes created by this new law:

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any type of unwelcome sexual advances, comments or conditions that create a hostile or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment may involve:

  • A superior’s offer of promoting a subordinate in exchange for sexual favors
  • A superior’s threat of demotion (or some other negative outcome) if a subordinate refuses a sexual favor
  • Uninvited touching in the workplace
  • Inappropriate sexual comments in the workplace
  • A company culture that permits sexually suggestive messaging, such as emails or posters

Stricter requirements for employers

The Time's Up Act expands sexual harassment training requirements of employers. It requires all companies, regardless of size, to provide two hours of sexual harassment training to its employees by October 1, 2020. All new employees must undergo such training within six months of starting work. There must also be periodic sexual harassment training for all employees every 10 years.

For companies with fewer than three employees, only supervisors must undergo this training. The law specifies that family-owned businesses are not exempt from this requirement – even when employees are family members of the employer.

There are also new rules surrounding the distribution of every company’s sexual harassment policy to its employees.

The monetary penalties a company now faces for noncompliance with any of the above regulations have also increased four-fold.

Added support for victims

The new law gives employees who have suffered workplace sexual harassment more time to file a complaint with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. Previously, victims had 180 days from the date of discrimination. That deadline has been increased to 300 days.

The law also increases the damages an employee can receive in litigation. Previously, a sexual harassment victim could seek the following damages in court:

  • Back and front pay
  • Emotional distress
  • Cease and desist orders
  • Pre- and post-judgment interest
  • Other costs incurred from the harassment

Under the new law, plaintiffs can also seek compensation for:

  • Attorney’s fees
  • Punitive damages

Your rights

Sexual harassment is illegal, and it is not something you should tolerate. Don’t be afraid to speak up and take legal action if you’re suffering from sexual harassment at work.

There are laws in place to protect you from retaliation by your employer. This means that they cannot fire you, demote you, lower your pay or take any other adverse actions against you for filing a sexual harassment suit. They also can’t transfer you to another department or role without your written consent.

In addition, you have the right to seek compensation for your suffering, and make sure this unfair treatment against you – and possibly others – stops.

It can be scary to call out inappropriate behavior and stand up for your rights. But it’s important to understand that you have the law on your side, and an experienced employment attorney can help you seek the justice you deserve.

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