Both the Connecticut and New York assembly have passed legislation expanding the Sexual Harassment protections in their states beginning in 2019.
Senate Bill 3 and Senate bill 1111 passed changes to the Connecticut Sexual Harassment laws. The laws are expected to go into effect on October 1, 2019, provided that the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has developed training and education materials by that date.
Effective October 1, 2019, employers of any size will be required to provide all supervisors with at least two hours of Sexual Harassment and Anti-Discrimination training. For employers with three or more employees, the training must be provided to all supervisory and non-supervisory employees.
The CHRO will develop a free online interactive training for employers.
The training must be completed by October 1, 2020 and must be completed at least once every 10 years. For new hires, training must be completed within six months of hire. Employers who have provided training to any employee after October 1, 2018 are not required to provide employees with training for a second time. Failure to provide training can result in a $750.00 fine.
The new Connecticut law will require employers of three or more employees to email employees a copy of a required poster regarding sexual harassment within three months of hire. The employee must have an e-mail address, either company-provided or personal. The subject line should be titled “Sexual Harassment Policy” or words very similar to that effect. If the employer does not provide employees an e-mail address, the information must be included on its website. Should the CHRO develops a notice; employers may provide this link as an alternative. The fine for failure to provide notice is $750.00.
On June 19, S. 6577 was approved by the New York State Senate and Assembly, greatly strengthening protections against sexual harassment. While the bill is still waiting for the Governor’s signature, Governor Cuomo supported the legislation and plans to sign the bill.
The changes will take effect 60 days after the legislation is enacted, with the exception of the “employer” definition expansion, which will take effect after 180 days.
Burden of Proof
The burden of proof for harassment claims will be lowered under the new law. Any harassment based on a protected class, or for participating in protected activity, will be unlawful “regardless of whether such harassment would be considered severe or pervasive under precedent applied to harassment claims.”
The new standard for unlawful harassment includes any activity that “subjects an individual to inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of the individual’s membership in one or more of these protected categories.”
The New York State Human Rights Law will expand the definition of an “employer” to include all employers in the State, regardless of their size, and includes the State and its political subdivisions.
The definition of “private employer” will be amended to include any person, company, corporation, or labor organization except the State or any subdivision or agency thereof.
Protections for certain groups in the workplace is also expanded. Non-employees (i.e. independent contractors, vendors, and consultants) were previously protected from sexual harassment in the workplace, the law extends protection to all forms of unlawful discrimination where the employer knew or should have known the non-employee was subjected to unlawful discrimination in the workplace and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Harassment of domestic workers will now be prohibited with respect to all protected classes and will be governed under the new harassment standard.
Employer Harassment Policy Requirements
Employers will be required to provide employees with their sexual harassment policies and sexual harassment training materials, in English and in each employee’s primary language, both at the time of hire and during each annual sexual harassment prevention training.
Additionally, the New York Department of Labor and the Division will evaluate the impact of the model sexual harassment prevention policy and training materials created by the agency every four years starting in 2022 and will update the model materials as needed.
Paylocity will continue to monitor the legislation and adjust training materials as necessary.
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This information is provided as a courtesy, may change and is not intended as legal or tax guidance. Employers with questions or concerns outside the scope of a Payroll Service Provider are encouraged to seek the advice of a qualified CPA, Tax Attorney or Advisor.