Connecticut’s “Act Combatting Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment” Imposes Significant Changes to the State’s Employment Laws

Employee Benefit Plan Review January 2020

Deborah DeHart Cannavino, Carol J. Faherty, Susan Gross Sholinsky, and Peter M. Stein, attorneys in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, co-authored an article in Employee Benefit Plan Review, titled “Connecticut’s 'Act Combatting Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment' Imposes Significant Changes to the State’s Employment Laws.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full version in PDF format):

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed into law “An Act Combatting Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment” (“Act”), which includes a number of significant changes to not only Connecticut’s sexual harassment prevention law, but other employment laws as well. Specifically, the Act:

  1. Expands the sexual harassment training requirements for all employers;
  2. Requires employers to provide information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment to new employees;
  3. Increases the penalties imposed on employers for failing to comply with the requirements of posting notice regarding the illegality of sexual harassment and providing sexual harassment training;
  4. Requires that if any employer takes corrective action in response to an employee’s claim of sexual harassment, such action cannot modify the complainant’s conditions of employment unless the complainant agrees to the modification in writing;
  5. Expands the definition of “discriminatory practice” to include failure to comply the required sexual harassment training;
  6. Extends the deadline for employees to file discrimination complaints of any kind (not just sexual harassment complaints);
  7. Allows the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) to award damages and attorney’s fees to successful claimants;
  8. Allows a court to award punitive damages in discrimination cases;
  9. Authorizes the CHRO to enter an employer’s place of business to ensure compliance with the posting, training, and provision of the sexual harassment information mandates and to examine records relating to such compliance; and
  10. Permits the CHRO to bring a civil action in certain discrimination matters.

The Act took effect on October 1, 2019, except that Section 3, requiring certain actions by the CHRO, became effective July 1, 2019.