With every new law that gets passed, it’s easy to overlook the existing requirements that employers must follow.
After all, if employers are just tracking the new laws down without first nailing down compliance with “older” ones, then they are leaving themselves just as vulnerable to potential claims.
One area that is easy to overlook is sexual harassment prevention, particularly in Connecticut. Indeed, some employers believe that simply adopting a policy is all that is required.
And they would be wrong.
So, it’s time to go back to the basics and make sure you’ve hit the checklist when it comes to sexual harassment prevention in Connecticut. Here are some things to consider:
All employers with 3 or more employees, must post notices regarding sexual harassment. Rather than tell you what it should say, just download the poster from the CHRO directly. And it’s free. (While you’re at it, consider spending some money to buy the all-in-one posters offered by some commercial ventures; alternatively, you can get the notices from each of the agencies.)
The CHRO suggests (but does not mandate) that the notices also include: A statement concerning the employer’s policies and procedures regarding sexual harassment and a statement concerning the disciplinary action that may be taken if sexual harassment has been committed; and contact person at the place of employment to whom one can report complaints of sexual harassment or direct questions or concerns regarding sexual harassment. Those are good ideas. Add them.
The notices need to be posted in a prominent location. A shared lunch room is typical. Don’t bury them in a location that employees will never see.
Employers with 50 or more employees must also provide two hours of training and education to all supervisory employees of employees in the State of Connecticut within six months of their assumption of a supervisory position. If you haven’t done such training, get it done now. Your company’s preferred lawfirm should be able to do it or, in some instances, an employer’s EPLI carrier may also provide that service.
The training has certain requirements, such as that it is done in a classroom-like setting. Some e-learning programs are now allowed under a 2003 informal opinion of the CHRO.
The CHRO recommends (but does not require) that an update of legal requirements and development in the law be given to supervisory employees every three years. Again, that’s probably a good idea; it demonstrates an employer’s commitment to this issue.
The CHRO encourages employers to keep records of such training. I would go further than that to say that employers should strongly consider it. If faced with a sexual harassment claim, such records may be key evidence to support the employer’s arguments that it took steps to ensure such harassment did not occur by training its employees.
Do you have all of these items under control? If so, you’re a step ahead. If not, don’t ignore the issue.
Take steps to get the training done (contact me or others if you need referrals to trainers) and make sure your policies and procedures are current.