Sexual Harassment Training Connecticut

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On June 18, 2019, Connecticut enacted a new state law, the Time’s Up Act, expanding sexual harassment training requirements for employers with employees working in Connecticut. Employers must now provide two hours of sexual harassment training to all employees in Connecticut, not just supervisors. New employees hired after October 1, 2019, must be trained within six months of hire. All current employees must be trained by October 1, 2020.

In October 2019, Connecticut issued guidance detailing the law’s training requirements.  This article details employers’ posting and training obligations under the the Time’s Up Act and the expanded employee protections under the new law.

 

Which employers must provide sexual harassment training in Connecticut?

All employers of any size must provide sexual harassment training to their supervisors in Connecticut.  Employers that have three or more employees must provide training to all employees in Connecticut.  (The previous Connecticut law only applied to employers who had 50 or more employees and only required training for supervisors.)

Guidance issued by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) makes clear that the law applies even to employers that are headquartered out of state. For example, if a company headquartered in Minnesota has ten employees in Minnesota and one in Connecticut, the employer must ensure that the one employee in Connecticut receives two  hours of sexual harassment training compliant with the Connecticut law.

What is the deadline for providing sexual harassment training to existing employees?

Employers must provide sexual harassment training to all employees in Connecticut by October 1, 2020.  If an employee has received such training since October 1, 2018, he or she is not required to receive the training again, as long as the previous training met all of the training content requirements of the Time’s Up Act.

What are the requirements in Connecticut for training new employees?

New employees hired after October 1, 2019, must receive sexual harassment training within six months of hire. Thus, an employee hired on October 1, 2019, would need to receive training by April 1, 2020.

90-day extension to 6-month training deadline because of COVID-19

On April 8, 2020, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) announced that it would consider giving employers a 90-day extension on the 6-month deadline to provide sexual harassment training to new employees hired after October 1, 2019. The deadline extension will not be granted to employees hired before this date. To obtain the extension, an employer must contact the CHRO and explain why the COVID-19 crisis prevented it from training all of its employees.  The employer, for example, could explain that it was not able to provide sexual harassment training to a particular employee because that employee was sick or did not have access to a computer or the Internet to complete the training. If you have questions and would like to consult with a Clear Law Compliance Training Attorney at no cost, please contact us.

 

What are the sexual harassment retraining requirements in Connecticut?

Employers must provide periodic supplemental training that updates all employees on the contents of the sexual harassment training not less than every ten years. From a risk prevention perspective, prudent employers will provide training more frequently. Indeed, EEOC guidelines have indicated that employers should provide employees harassment prevention training periodically and some states require annual or every other year sexual harassment training.

How long must the training be?

The training must be at least two hours in length for both non-supervisory and supervisory employees.

What must be included in the content of the sexual harassment training?

The training and education shall include information relating to the federal and state statutory provisions regarding sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

Clear Law Institute’s online sexual harassment training courses cover the required content and more. Our training also covers not just sexual harassment, but other forms of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation. We also address Bystander Intervention, workplace civility, and bullying.

Must users of online sexual harassment training be able to ask questions?

Yes. In October 2019, the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) issued guidance clarifying that online sexual harassment training can be compliant with the state’s sexual harassment training law, but only if the online training is “interactive.” In defining “interactive,” the CHRO stated that “the training must be in a format that allows participants to ask questions and receive answers…within a reasonable time period.” The CHRO’s recent guidance is similar to an opinion it issued years ago that online training can comply with the state’s training law as long as the training “provides an opportunity for students to ask questions and obtain answers in a reasonably prompt manner.”

Importantly, Clear Law Institute’s online sexual harassment training allows users to ask questions and have those questions answered within one business day either by a Clear Law in-house legal expert. As required under some jurisdictions’ laws, we also keep a copy of the questions submitted and answers provided.

Posting and email requirements for Connecticut employers with three or more employees

Posting. Connecticut employers with three or more employees must post in a “prominent and accessible location” information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

Email. Connecticut employers with three or more employees must also provide, not later than three months after the employee’s start date, a copy of the information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment to each employee by email.  The subject line of the email should be, “Sexual Harassment Policy,” or something similar.  Employers must email this information to the employee assuming that either (i) the employer has provided the employee an email account or (ii) the employee has provided the employer with his or her personal email address. If the employer has not provided all employees an email account, the employer must post the information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment on the employer’s Internet web site, if the employer has one.

Alternatively, the employer could choose to provide its employees by email, text message, or in writing with the link to the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities web site page that describes the illegality of sexual harassment and the remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.

CHRO allowed to enter an employer’s business to inspect compliance with posting and training requirements

The CHRO is now authorized to enter an employer’s business during work hours to ensure compliance with the posting requirements and to review all records, policies, procedures, and training materials maintained by the employer.

The CHRO can conduct an inspection only when it “reasonably believes” that the employer is in violation of certain legal provisions, or during the 12 month period following the date on which any complaint has been filed against an employer.

Penalties for not complying with the notice and training requirements in Connecticut

Employers that do not provide the required notices and training can receive a monetary fine of up to $750. And, of course, employers who don’t provide the notices and training may have a more difficult time raising a defense or avoiding punitive damages in a harassment lawsuit, as it may be more difficult for them to show that they took “reasonable steps” to prevent harassment from occurring.

Expanded Anti-Retaliation Provisions

In addition to expanding employers’ training and posting requirements, the new law also expands employee protections. For example, if an employer takes corrective action in response to an employee’s claim of sexual harassment, the employer may not change the employee’s conditions of employment unless the employee agrees, in writing, to the modification. “Corrective action” is defined to include employee relocation, assigning an employee to a different work schedule, or other substantive changes to an employee’s terms and conditions of employment.

Deadline for filing claims extended to 300 days and attorney fees and punitive damages made available

Connecticut’s Time’s Up Act extends the deadline for filing a discrimination complaint with the CHRO from 180 days to 300 days. Also, employees who prevail on claims before the CHRO may now recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. In addition, the Connecticut Time’s Up Act now allows employees who prevail in court to recover punitive damages

Why Clear Law Institute?

Hundreds of employers rely on Clear Law Institute to provide online sexual harassment training to their employees across the country because our training:

  • Complies with all 50 states’ laws, including Connecticut law
  • Provides users with the ability to ask questions and have those questions answered, as required by Connecticut law
  • Is kept up-to-date with any changes in the law at no additional charge
  • Utilizes cutting-edge instructional design principles and learning games
  • Efficiently tracks who has and who has not completed the training each year, as handled by Clear Law’s Learning Management System. This prevents employers from having to collect and track certificates manually.

Learn more and view a free course demo now.

About the Author

Michael Johnson, CEO of Clear Law Institute, is a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who brought one of DOJ’s first “pattern or practice” sexual harassment cases. He has provided training and consulting on harassment prevention or investigations to organizations around the world, such as the EEOC, the United Nations, and Google. He is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School.  Read more about Michael here. 

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