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Oct 01 2019

Major Changes in Connecticut’s Employment Laws Going into Effect on October 1, 2019

By: Reese Mitchell

Posted in: Workplace Harassment

 

Connecticut employers should know that on October 1, 2019, Connecticut implemented several significant changes to its employment laws. These changes affect both day-to-day business operations and an employer’s long-term liabilities.

Connecticut has increased the State’s minimum wage to $11.00 from $10.10. It will then rise over the next few years until it reaches $15.00 per hour on October 15, 2023. As of January 1, 2024, Connecticut will adjust the State’s fair minimum wage by the percentage change in the annual federal employment cost index for salaries for all civilian workers. The adjustment will occur on each New Year’s Day.

The State’s “Time’s Up Act” went into effect. All Connecticut organizations with three or more employees are now subject to expanded notice and training requirements for preventing sexual harassment. These requirements include, but are not limited to, providing every employee (not just supervisors) two hours of training by October 1, 2020.  From then on, every newly hired employee shall be given the same exercise within six months of hire, and employers must provide periodic supplemental training every ten years. Failure to satisfy these requirements will open an employer to civil liabilities as a “discriminatory practice” and a fine of $750.

Employers are now required to post information about the mandatory sexual harassment training to employees in an easily accessible area and by email or a company’s intranet if doing so by email is not possible. 

The Time’s Up Act also dramatically increases the power of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (“CHRO”) even outside the sexual harassment area. CHRO now has the authority to inspect businesses during the workday if the Commissioner reasonably believes there are violations of this or any aspect of the Fair Employment Practices Act.   CHRO can also now award reasonable attorney fees to complainants who prevail on discrimination claims in CHRO administrative proceedings. The CHRO can also assign legal counsel to bring a court suit, instead of its own administrative hearings, if the parties agree and it is in the public’s interest. If the CHRO establishes unlawful discrimination by “clear and convincing evidence” in such a suit, the court will be required to award the CHRO its legal fees and costs and award up to $10,000 in civil penalties. Finally, the deadline to file any charges of illegal discrimination or harassment with CHRO has been increased from 180 days to 300 days for any discrimination occurring on or after October 1, 2019.  

That’s A LOT of change!


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