“Your time is up, my time is now.”
New Englanders likely recognize the above phrase, which is uttered repeatedly in the entrance music for WWE superstar and New England native John Cena. Ironically, with WWE often associated with misogynistic practices towards its female characters, the phrase takes on new meaning in Connecticut with the advent of a law passed in mid-June that greatly expands the requirements for employer harassment training in that state.
Gone are the days when only supervisors must be trained in mid and large organizations. Instead, Connecticut now will require nearly every employee working in that state to receive two-hours of training on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.
According to a law signed by Governor Ned Lamont on June 18, 2019 entitled the “Time’s Up” Act, employers with three or more employees will need to provide their entire workforce with sexual harassment training by October 1, 2020 (unless training was provided after October 1, 2018). For those employees hired by organizations with three or more employees after October 1, 2019, this training must be completed within the first six months of their employment.
Employers with three or fewer employees still must provide training, although the requirements for those small organizations look much like the old law, which required two hours of training for supervisors only. Under the new law, very small employers will be exempt from training the entirety of the workforce, but still must have their supervisors trained by October 1, 2020 (or within six months of hire date if hired after October 1, 2019).
In contrast to many of the other states that have enacted mandatory sexual harassment training in recent years, Connecticut does not require annual or bi-annual training. Instead, the state requires that employers re-train their employees once every ten years, which eases the burden somewhat, an especially important fact given the large amount of time that Connecticut is requiring all employers to invest in training sessions.
Should employers choose not to train, the new law imposes monetary penalties including fines of up to $1,000, as well as the potential for attorney fees and punitive damages when a complainant comes forward to the Connecticut Human Rights Organization with an accusation that his or her employer is not following this new law. The latter could cause a cottage industry within the Connecticut plaintiffs’ bar wherein attorneys seek clients within those organizations that are either intentionally or unintentionally ignoring the training requirement. This of course could cause far greater pain for employers who are not in compliance than the $1,000 fine.
Syntrio is well equipped to help your workforce comply with the new Connecticut training law. We encourage you to contact us immediately to develop a program for compliance.