Discrimination & Harassment

Just wrapped up a trial so hoping to get these blog posts with a little more frequency.

On October 1, 2019, the new training requirements on sexual harassment prevention became effective. I’ve recapped them before here in my “Definitive Employer Guide to Connecticut’s New Anti-Sexual Harassment Law” post from June.

I noted then that all

Can an employer ever win a motion for summary judgment on a discrimination case in state court?

The prevailing wisdom is no.  A fool’s errand, some might say.

But a new Connecticut Appellate Court case (Alvarez v. City of Middletown) shows at least what’s possible.

The case has some details that stand out. The

One of the quirks of discrimination law in Connecticut concerns sexual orientation.  Back in 1991, the General Assembly passed a wide-ranging bill that added sexual orientation as one of the protected classes that employers could not base decisions on.

Sort of.

Rather than add sexual orientation to the key employment law statute that bars discrimination

Over the weekend, President Trump tweeted out that several prominent “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” (who, it shouldn’t have to be said but does, are all American citizens, most of whom were born in the United States) should  “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

This language has,

As the dust continues to settle from the General Assembly, bills that didn’t get a lot of press beforehand are continuing to come into the light.

One of them is new Public Act 19-95, which was just signed by Governor Lamont yesterday.

The bill treats being a member of the “Civil Air Patrol”

At the stroke of midnight last night, the 2019 General Assembly came to a close.

I think it’s fair to say that 2019 will go down in history not for the number of bills impacting employers, but for the breadth of the few that passed.

I’ve recapped the bills in some prior posts, but here’s

If you’re a Connecticut employer, new requirements regarding training and posting — as well as changes to the underlying anti-discrimination law — should be a must-read.

On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the General Assembly passed a series of revisions to Senate Bill 3, which itself passed over the weekend. Together, these series of changes (S.B. 1111 and S.B. 3) will impact employers of all sizes and cases at the CHRO. 

In essence, you had a bill that was amended after it already passed. Rather than get into what was in the original bill vs. final bill, I thought it might be helpful just to recap what is in the final version of the bills, as combined.

Governor Lamont is expected to sign these bills in the next week or so.

To be clear, this recap should not be a substitute for legal advice and this recap only addresses some of the most relevant private employer provisions; there’s some provisions in there regarding EEO officers for state agencies that are beyond the scope of this recap. Credit should also be given to the state’s OLR Bill Analysis as well. 

TRAINING

Currently, employers with at least 50 employees are required to give their supervisors two hours of training on state and federal sexual harassment laws and remedies.

The new law will require employers of all sizes to give training to supervisors by October 1, 2020 (or within six months of their assumption of supervisory duties, after that time).

For employers with 3 or more employees, the training must also be given to all other employees also by October 1, 2020 (or within six months of hire, after that time.)

In both instances, the training must be updated every ten years by employers, though it doesn’t seem to be the same two hours — just a “supplemental” update.  Also, any employee (including supervisor) trained since October 1, 2018 is exempt from being “retrained” a second time.

The bill requires CHRO to develop a free online training video or other interactive method. If that’s done on time, employers will have to give the training within six months of an employee’s start date.

If employers don’t provide training, it will now be a “discriminatory practice” that may allow employees to bring an action in the CHRO (or court).  The fine for failing to provide training will be $750.

NOTICES TO EMPLOYEES

The new law (piggybacking on existing law which requires a notice be posted regarding sexual harassment) will require employers of three or more employees to send a copy of this to employees via e-mail within 3 months of hire — so long as the employee has an e-mail address (company-provided or personal).  The subject line should be titled “Sexual Harassment Policy” or words very similar to that effect.  If the employer doesn’t give employees an e-mail address, the information must be included on its website.  If the CHRO develops something on their own, the employer can just provide this link.

The fine for failing to do so will be $750 as well.

CORRECTIVE ACTION IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CLAIMS

When an employer takes prompt remedial action in response to a claim of sexual harassment, the new law requires that the employer can only modify the target’s condition of employment upon agreement in writing from the employee.  That means, transferring an employee to a different department can only be done upon written consent.

BUT, even if the employer did not obtain the written consent, the bill still allows the CHRO to find that the employer’s corrective action was reasonable and not “to the detriment” to the complainant, based on the evidence.

TIMEFRAME FOR FILING DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT CLAIMS
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The so-called “Time’s Up” bill that would make major changes to the sexual harassment and discrimination laws in the state — including adding new training requirements — went through final passage at the House on Saturday.  But don’t start changing your policies just yet.

Various news outlets are reporting that a “fix” bill — that