Unfortunately, many instances of sexual harassment in the workplace go unreported, due either to a fear of retaliation or an uncertainty as to whether the conduct constituted sexual harassment. Whatever the case, no employee should feel demeaned in any way while on the job. The following provides an overview of the various laws and regulations concerning sexual harassment in Connecticut, and the various steps employers must take to ensure compliance with the law.
First and foremost, even before consulting an attorney, anyone with questions or concerns relating to human rights or discrimination issues in Connecticut should consult Connecticut’s Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO), which states that its mission “is to eliminate discrimination through civil and human rights law enforcement and to establish equal opportunity and justice for all persons within the state through advocacy and education.” The site provides valuable resources and links. With regard to sexual harassment, the site contains a step-by-step guide on what to do if you feel you have been the victim of sexual harassment.
The Commission gets its authority from Connecticut General Statute § 46a-54, which grants the Commission the authority to “require an employer having three or more employees to post in a prominent and accessible location information concerning the illegality of sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment,” and second, “to require an employer having fifty or more employees to provide two hours of training and education to all supervisory employees [ . . . ].” The statute further provides that the training and education “shall include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment.”
By way of reference, sexual harassment refers to “any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature.”
The information that is required of an employer having three or more employees includes, but is not limited to:
- The statutory definition of sexual harassment and examples of different types of sexual harassment;
- Notice that sexual harassment is prohibited by the State of Connecticut’s Discriminatory Employment Practices Law and Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act;
- The remedies available to a victim of sexual harassment, which can include but are not limited to:
- Cease and desist orders;
- Back pay;
- Compensatory damages; and
- Hiring, promotion or reinstatement;
- Notice that the harasser may be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties;
- The contact information for the CHRO;
- A statement that Connecticut law requires that a formal written complaint be filed with the Commission within 180 days of the date when the alleged harassment occurred;
- A large bold-faced notice stating, “Sexual Harassment is Illegal.”
An employer with fifty or more employees, in addition to the aforementioned requirements, must provide two hours of specialized sexual harassment training, which “shall be conducted in a classroom-like setting, using clear and understandable language and in a format that allows participants to ask questions and receive answers.” The statute provides a long list of the specific topics that an employer can and should include in the training.
It is the hope that the above provides a concise, easy to understand summary of the policies that an employer must abide by when it comes to sexual harassment. If you feel that you have been the victim of sexual harassment, or even if you are not sure, you should consult with an attorney experienced in employment law. The attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. regularly represent employees throughout the Fairfield County and New York City regions, and are ready to advocate on your behalf. If you have questions or want to schedule a consultation, please contact Joseph C. Maya, Esq. at 203-221-3100 or at JMaya@mayalaw.com.